How to get a hiring manger's attention with a gap in my employment history?

I have an incredible depth of knowledge. I have built up this knowledge over the course of thirty five plus years. It has been from the time I was a teenager in 1984. Although I have not held a professional position in sometime. I have stayed active in the technology world. Writing code is more than a profession for me. It has been a life long love affair with technology. I write code everyday, build my own PCs both for myself and friends and family. I can code in both OO and functional styles using almost any modern programming language. I recently graduated from Rhode Island College with a degree in computer science. I am familiar with all the basic searching and sorting algorithms and their run times. I also know as some very advanced algorithms. Besides that, I also know all the cleaver and data structures that go along with them.

Hi, would you care to explain the above post? The title, for example.

Also, you never asked a question in this post. What is this post’s purpose?

I do not know what happened to this post but every time I to post to this site it is getting corrupted. This was part of a longer post and this is what is what went through. It is not my system, I have been posting to other sites both before and after I tried to post here. I have scanned my system for viruses and it is completely clean. I have never had issues before so I have no idea what is going on here.

This is what I originally tried to post (does not have a link in it)


Hi everyone, my name is Scott and I am new here. I have a 18 year professional history as a software developer. I started coding when I was 17 years old when my dad agreed that if payed half the cost for a computer he would pay the other half. That was way back in 1984 and the computer was manufactured by the now defunct toy company Coleco and the computer was the Coleco Adam which as computers go, not very good. However it did have a GW-Basic compiler and I was off and running. My career started several years later at the age of 22, with no formal training or education other than high school. I was employed to do telephone technical support for Microsoft on the MS-DOS 5.0 team.

My last professional engagement was at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections as their lead developer. I was there for ten years but do to an illness I left the position. That was in October 2008. I have not held any job since. However, I did go to college and I have earned a BA in computer science. I graduated in 2017. I have been looking for work ever since without much success. Although I send out many resumes and am contacted half a dozen times a day by recruiters. As soon as the potential employers figure out I have not worked since 2008 the process abruptly ends.

My question to the group is what would you as the hiring manager get your attention? What do I need to do to get through this seemingly impossible situation?

I feel like I have been blackballed from the industry because of a gap in my employment history. In the two years since my graduation I have only had two in person interviews. For those two interviews, I had to practically beg… well yea really I did beg like a desperate person to get those in person interviews.

What do I do to break through?

I have updated your title and re-listed this post.

You call those your “freelancer” years. The early part of your gap was during a black hole in many people’s careers anyway and then you were a student, so they should care more about what you did in school. If you did any interesting personal projects during the gap or did get a little freelance work or volunteering done you tell them all about that. If you’ve got the skills now, you help them make the correct decision by handwaving over the irrelevant part of your history, even if it seems dishonest.

Hi Susan,

Thank you for the advice. However, I never get that far. For companies I apply to directly by responding to job postings, all they get is my resume. I even send a cover letter sometimes. In the letter I tell a story similar to what you are saying. Other times I tell the truth about getting sick and having to leave my career for a while and hope to get sympathy points. In the end I never hear back from anyone, ever. Then there are the recruiters who send me e-mails all day long but the first thing they want is an updated version of my resume (they think the last position in 2008 is an old resume). To the ones I do respond to it is the same story, I never hear back. I do not know what to do. I feel like just walking into one of the companies I want to work for and just asking to speak with the hiring manager (you would be amazed who you can find on LinkedIn). So the third avenue I have tried is LinkedIn but it seams that hiring managers do not appreciate being directly contacted that way so I stopped doing it. I’m at my wits end. I see kids just out school, my classmates, getting hired into the same jobs I apply for and I cannot even get a call back. Should I just give up on this? Like I said, I feel like I’ve been black-balled from the industry.

Do you have any of your project’s code on GitHub so people can view what kind of software you are capable of creating? I am not sure what stacks you are familiar with, but if you don’t have Java, C++, Python, Ruby, PHP or JavaScript as working projects you can display, it would be a tough sell in my opinion.

Do you know anyone working in tech who could vouch for your skills? You will find that firing off emails to strangers will result in only about a 1% - 5% response rate. You need to have others pass your resume on directly to the companies they work for to give you a better chance of being seen.

Don’t give up… I’m in nearly the same boat as you are (my gap is about 4 years less than yours but still…)…I have the same problem of getting attention- I’ve had some good interviews but never get further than that. I don’t know if there are other factors at play with that- age and my deafness). I’d like to think that no they’re not- trying not to beat myself up lol. Luckily I was able to add in some volunteer work then later a bootcamp- and currently a job that’s so far away from IT and programming/developer work it may well be on another planet ;).

I have talked to a few others who have looked for Web Dev or similar jobs for more than 6+ years so we aren’t alone.

I was going to ask if you were on LinkedIn but saw that you are from your post.

Don’t know what else to tell you… there’s lots of advice out there- create a portfolio site (I have one but waiting to resolve the cPanel issue on my web host), don’t create one, be super active on Git, don’t worry so much about Git, lots of conflicting advice but I do think showcasing some projects big or small would be a nice touch. That’s one thing I have- even though I can’t seem to get my React + Rails app to work on Heroku :/.

And… yep… I have that feeling sometimes… "Was I black-balled or something? Is there a network with a list of “don’t hire this person!”? Then I tell myself to shut up and keep going :).