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Taking time off between jobs is a real option for most programmers. Depending on how long you stay at each company it can even add up to a few years of time off without having obvious gaps on the resume.

You have to have the stomach for that... Personally, I couldn't get any real enjoyment out of a time period where I didn't know when/where/whether I have another job lined up, and opportunities to get truly trustworthy commitments on start dates that are a significant period of time in the future are rare.

I do that all the time - like literally my CV has probably 5 or 6 gaps of varying duration (between 3 months and two years). Often, during those gaps I spend some time working on something tech related, so I put that into the gap in the CV.

Even with those gaps, I'm having zero problem finding well-paying jobs. I think it's because, despite those gaps, I represent good value to the employer - I know the latest tech, have done good work in the past, can present coherent and mature opinions during the interview etc. Also, I only do long-term contracts where they explicitly don't care that I'm a job-hopping mercenary that is not ever going to believe the "company mission", because the assumption is that the whole arrangement is temporary anyway. In practice, they always want to retain me and I end up quitting out of boredom after a year of two.

To summarize, the gaps are probably important only when you're in close competition with lots of folks similar to you. But, if you're a bit of an expert in a specific niche (mine is Big Data - Hadoop and related crap, applied in enterprise IT context) and there aren't that many competent candidates around, the gaps suddenly don't matter.

I’m similar. I have one multi year gap and a number of smaller gaps. Nobody has ever commented on or asked me about them. I do put any relevant projects I’ve done in that time on my CV, if I have any, but I done’t always have much technical stuff to show for the time. I have started startups though and run a programming meet-up, in mostly asked about those.

Are you over 40 yet? It changed for me this last job hunt.

I'm 38. We'll see what happens in a couple of years. In any case, these enterprise companies usually have a position of architect on their teams, where grey hair are even an advantage. I don't like this job, as it's more headaches than coding in a lot of ways, but when if ages turns out to be a thing, then I guess I'll be architecting (I've done it several times already, so I have the CV for that).

If you are still hopping by 40 they probably don’t get what they want any more, which is an experienced, stable worker.

I agree with you.

Unless you had like, a lot of money.

Speaking of signaling mechanisms, if you take time off from working to travel to “interesting” places, and mention it in the interview, you are indicating a clear lack of financial pressure, which I have found to be quite helpful in price negotiations.

You aren’t jobless; you are successful. Even as a bluff, with a now-empty bank account.

If not for the fact that I need to have health insurance for my family and the only way to do that without breaking the bank is through an employer, I'd agree with you.

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