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I'm planning longer pause (about 1 year) after current contract (IT - programmer). I have about 8 years of experience, and I haven't made such a long pause yet (maximal - 3 months). However, there are some private-sphere things I'd like to accomplish, and I want to strengthen my health, weakened by factory caging.

My question is, does such long pause have some negative impact on my chances of getting job and the rates I can negotiate? If so, how to minimize that effect?

I don't plan to completely escape from programming, I'm planning to do in that time a small, probably open-source project, by which I would learn new technologies. So theoretically I could put it in CV as making custom product (in case somebody would like to buy customizations or support). Is it a good idea to do that?

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One year is a long time in the world of a programming. You idea to work on the private open source project is the best thing you can do. It will help your mind feel like you're actually working.

I also suggest you make a good list of website which cover your programming area and monitor them regularly. This will help you be in touch with all new things. Also monitor good programming forums like Stackoverflow.

The bottom line is that thou you're not working, make your mind think you are working. It's pretty hard to warm up cold brain.

You may also try to read multiple programming books and do coding only as a practice from that book, but I know no one who can confirm what kind of an impact this approach may have.

Now, from the experience of my own workers, 3 months is the max time they can take off without having impact on their programming pace. Nowadays, I am also not coding as much as before. I also noticed that if I don't code 3 months, I can still code at the pace of 90% from time I was on peak.

My friend took a year off from programming (a freelancer as well), and when he tried to return he told me that he felt like he was starting from the beginning.

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In my sense, a long pause may cause problem if you are completely not working, because world is changing day to day, even minute to minute, but as you said that you will look for some freelancing during your pause time. That sounds good and its a good option if you really want to have a longer pause.

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    In pure freelancing maybe yes, but in contracting you often work with 10-years old technologies, therefore you also get out-of-touch with new technologies. – Danubian Sailor Aug 22 '13 at 5:27
  • Yes off course you are correct @ŁukaszLech, but it is better working on old technologies than not working at all. – G K Aug 22 '13 at 8:06

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