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Corona virus pandemic - How to handle a large gap in my resume ?

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I do software test automation/QA and I don't have a CS degree. But, I do have some working knowledge of data structures and algorithms which has been enough for me to do my job thus far. I left my job about 6 months ago to get a break and look for new opportunities.

I took a vacation for about one month and started preparing for interviews after vacation. A large part of my preparation consists of mostly practicing for coding interviews (only started a month ago), taking courses and sometimes building small projects (but nothing spectacular), and also revising concepts related to work. A few months into my preparation, the corona virus pandemic happened. After the pandemic, it appears that there are fewer opportunities for my role.

I have applied to many companies in the past few months. But, I hardly get any interviews or I don't make it to final rounds. In some (not all) interviews my weak point is the data structures & algorithms coding interview. I am working on getting better at that and it takes up most of my time. But, the gap in employment has come up in a few interviews. For all I know, some of my job applications might be rejected mainly because of the gap.

I wonder if I would have been at least considered for more jobs if I did not have a big gap. How do I explain this gap to employers and improve my chances of at least getting interviews ?
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You explain it by being open about it when the topic comes up: You quit because you wanted to do something else but the timing was unfortunate because the pandemic hit shortly afterwards. Not much else to say. Any employer you will want to work for would understand that.

I'm not sure if the gap factors in heavily. It might. It might also be the case that it's simply harder to get a job because many companies are taking things slower while the pandemic is still ongoing?
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Stephan van Hulst wrote:. . . I'm not sure if the gap factors in heavily. . . .

But if you supply a good explanation as you did, the gap will mean a lot less.
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You can say that this gap was a great opportunity to develop you skills ( in your field) and a chance to understand what you really need in your life
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When demand in the job market picks up again it would be good if you could say "I studied for (and passed) these certifications during the pandemic".    

Truth is that the computing industry is constantly evolving (or is that revolving) so keeping up to date is just part of the job, and indeed, a good habit to develop.  Any candidate that can demonstrate this will gain an advantage during recruitment.    

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