There are a ton of questions on Programmers.SE about whether or not taking extended time off is a good idea and what to do during that time off to maintain your skill level:
They've been really helpful, but I still have a question about the logistical details of take a self-funded sabbatical.
I'm coming to the end of a year off from working as a software developer (after 7 years in the field.) I've taken this year to let myself explore interests that I'd never had enough time for: baking, sewing, photography, and making new and interesting friends. During this time, I've also been working on pet development projects in technologies and disciplines that I would never have had the chance to explore otherwise. in addition, I've read all of those software development books I'd never had time to read and kept up with programming news and blogs.
The development projects have all had an eye towards being part of a Micro ISV, but only one of the projects has made it to any sort of production stage. That project is impressive, but not very successful (yet!)
I've got a reasonably active programming blog that I believe reflects a high dedication to software development and demonstrates that I haven't just put my programming skills on a shelf for a year.
My question is: What is the best way to transmit this information to a potential employer at the resume/cover letter level?
I'm reasonably confident that I can explain this sabbatical in an interview setting. I know that at the resume level though, hiring managers will use any excuse they can to throw my resume out (I've done hiring and I would probably have thrown out my own resume if it didn't handle this time off really well, maybe it's karma.) So I feel like the resume/cover letter is the really tricky part in getting a kick-ass new job.
I have a few ideas about what to do, but I'm not sure what the larger community sees as acceptable. Here are the approaches I'm considering:
- Put a special section on my resume for the sabbatical time in which I outline the personal projects. If I do this, what's a good way to label it?
- Create a personal company name and put these projects in the work experience section of my resume under that company. This seems like the most go-getter way to do it, but I'm worried it could be perceived as trickery when I get to the interview stage. Also if I do this, what do I put as my title?
- Leave my resume as-is and explain everything in my cover letter, with a link to my active blog.
- There's probably something I'm not thinking of, I'm open to any other ideas.
I know I've included a bunch of special-snowflake information about my personal situation, but I would prefer answers for the more general case. The personal details are here more as an example than as a request for answers designed specifically for me.