I didn't really know where to post this question, but I guess this sub-forum could do. I apologise in advance if I missed the right forum for it.
for the TL;DR; people out there, I need some advice on how to promote my SQL Server skills apart from MS Certifications.
Just to give you a bit of background, I started years ago (13) as junior SQL developer (Oracle, but that doesn't really matter), and over the years I gradually moved towards software/web development and other tasks, reducing the exposure to SQL Server to little.
I tried to keep up to date with the latest features and improvements (I'm MCTS SQL 2005 and I'll be taking the 70-461 exam for SQL 2012 in a couple of weeks) and I did (and do now) develop and administer various DBs and instances for my company and its clients, but since I work for a web development agency the DB-side-of-things is not really "challenging".
After a years of meditation I think it's time for me to go back to full time DB development since web development is not "my thing", but of course I have no hands on experience in BI and my times on Datawarehouse are long gone.
Since I'm out of the loop a while, I can't find a job in those positions that easily since most of them require X years of experience (in order to maintain the salary level consistent to my current one) and I don't really want to start as Junior again.
Also, given all the new features that SQL Server ships with now, I don't think my years spent as C# (and asp.net for that matters) and sysadmin should go wasted either.
The question is, apart from certifications (which don't really mean much I guess - don't take me wrong, I value them but I don't think they can be my only "selling point") is there a way to further promote my skillset?
Many friends recommended to "work on some side project". In the world of web development people seeking for a new job would roll out some cool website or collaborate on some other project to display their skillset. But DBDs & DBAs are different breeds (at least, I reckon so) and I reckon I can't make up a database from nothing (and for no reason). And even pretending I could, how could I showcase it? This doesn't seem like a viable way... or maybe I'm wrong?
What's the best way to get "back in the loop" according to you?
I hope this makes sense
Thanks in advance!