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My story in a nutshell:

Some time after college, after many months of working on my portofolio and job hunting, I got a junior programming position in the games industry. But since I had to move to an expensive city in another country, my financial situation became quite terrible. Also I wasn't happy with the job itself. So, when after 1.5 year something unpleasant happened, I decided to leave, without securing next job. A day after I handed in my resignation, the news broke out about mass layoffs in the industry... I still managed to land a few interviews, but they were rather strange and not successful - it's like they weren't really interested in evaluating me. Also I got the impression that they suspected me of being fired (because I was already out of job) and therefore - not good enough. Since I wasn't happy about how the interviews were conducted and they were a big strain on my time and money, I gave up with job search.

Over the last two years I had some non-development related, part-time jobs, that I would be ashamed to put on my resume. But I didn't give up on programming. I started a project, that turned out to be very difficult on many levels. Working on it got me burned out and depressed a few times, but I overcame everything and now I'm in beta phase. I believe I can monetize it, but I don't expect big income.

Still, the experience made me think that I would rather have a "proper" career in a company and climb the ladder, than work for myself. I'm thinking about applying again for some positions, but I fear this may not be easy:

  1. The HR people are very predictable. I'm sure they very much dislike 2 year gap on my resume.

  2. The project that I have been working on, is quite unique. It takes very specific expertise to understand what problems I had to solve, how complex and laborious it gets, how many areas it spans. I fear the devs, who are going to interview me, will automatically assume it's something that they can complete in a 2 months time (I believed that too...), therefore - not impressive.

  3. I do poorly in interview chats, both over the phone and face to face. Well, that is consistent with how bad I am at conversations in general life.

Do you have any advice on what can I do to improve my chances of getting a job, under the circumstances? The thing that worries me most is the 2 year employment gap - is it a deal breaker?

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closed as off topic by maple_shaft, Yannis Rizos, Tim Post, ChrisF Dec 28 '11 at 16:46

Questions on Programmers Stack Exchange are expected to relate to software development within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

you are alright in converstion. I am really impressed in the manner you have put your question. nice job.....hope you get better answers soon –  Pankaj Upadhyay Dec 28 '11 at 12:49
Welcome to Programmers. My heart goes out to you and I wish you luck, but unfortunately this isn't a good forum for this kind of conversation. This is a Q/A site for conceptual problems facing software developers, but this situation can really apply to any career. Consiser looking at the Careers and Advice section of Area51 for help or advice on career related matters. Good luck with your project. –  maple_shaft Dec 28 '11 at 13:05
Off-topic, but you've been working on a project you think you can get money from. Another way to phrase that is that you've been working on a startup. HR isn't going to care what it is, and isn't going to care that much about whether it's successful or not. Never lie on your resume, but put the best face on things. –  David Thornley Dec 28 '11 at 17:48
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2 Answers

I agree with maple_shaft on the fact that it should be placed into the Careers and Advice but since it's in the area51 section I'll attempt to answer anyway.

The 2 year gap on your resume is a concern for the interviewer and actually is a significant one but not for the reason you think the concern for the interviewer would be more of the fact that you may lack Software Development skills and knowledge and that is why you haven't been able to land a job in the industry. But these problems are difficult but solvable. The only thing that you would need to concern yourself with is that you will basically be starting from scratch and the company that might hire you may not be the one to your liking.

Depending on the country you are in and the area you live in there are IT recruiters available that might take you as a client to place you for the job. One thing that these people all have in common that if they decide that you are worth their effort they would help you for the lack of the better word "spin" your resume so it won't get into the junk pile. Just make sure that if you choose to go this route you pick a recruiter that doesn't charge you up front. Those ones are thieves.

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You did not say if you prefer small or large companies. The problems you describe (gaps in employment etc) would primarily be issues for large companies.

Your background would make you ideal for a small startup. They would most likely be much less concerned with such things. You should be prepared to demo and discuss the program you have been working on for the last two years. The things you have learned:

what problems I had to solve, how complex and laborious it gets, how many areas it spans.

are exactly the issues facing a startup and experience that someone from a large company rarely has.

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