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