Article after article talks about a "talent shortage" in the software industry. Supposedly, the unemployment problems of the past few years don't exist in the tech sector. Anybody looking should be able to find a job if they can program their way out of a wet paper bag.
One of two things must be true:
1) There is no lack of good programmers, and all the news stories, blog posts, tweets and articles that say otherwise are wrong. The CEOs who post to news.ycombinator.com are simply unable to bother sifting through the vast numbers of qualified applicants, so they write posts claiming they can't find anybody, but in fact they can't be bothered to look much. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and NPR can't do basic research, and accept the idea that programmers are somehow extremely rare. The world is awash with capable software developers, and the unemployment rate *isn't* different for programmers vs. non-programmers. There is no tech boom, much less bubble, and the widespread frustration good programmers feel over not being able to find work is somehow not being expressed, anywhere, despite the internet being ideal as a medium for expressing this - the unemployed just don't blog, or comment. I'm probably just one voice among many that are silently frustrated.
2) The journalists and CEOs are right- there aren't enough good programmers, and it's increasingly difficult for employers to be very picky when they are lucky enough to learn of someone actually looking for work who can write code at all. Therefore, my existence as a rather persistently unemployed programmer, given that I've been actively looking, entails that I'm not employable. There's something about me that is reprehensible to potential employers, and nobody who is aware of it has the stomach to bring it to my attention. Maybe because it's something I'm unable or unwilling to change, or maybe because I wouldn't accept it, so there's no point in telling me and making me unnecessarily upset. I just need to take what little evidence I have, turn away from the tech industry, and stop looking back. The problem really *is* me.
Is there a third option? Why else would an even *adequate* software developer be unable to find work when everyone seems to be screaming about there not being enough good programmers to hire?
I have two options:
1) Try harder. Do more to demonstrate my abilities, keep applying, something will change eventually, but it's apparently not something I have much control over. Maybe I can manage to get a job, as soon as I can beat my way past all the other candidates out there. Take *one* of my projects and make it something good enough that it can't be ignored, so I'm more obviously worth hiring. The news is wrong. The CEOs, blogs, twitter, they're all wrong.
2) Find a new path. Stop looking back. Don't let a computer hobby get in the way of finding a job I can actually be considered capable of doing, ignoring whether I actually am or not, since it won't matter outside of the hobbyist context anyway. Time to go back to college for something that will actually work for me, because this apparently isn't it.
I know that depression makes for rather black-and-white, binary judgments on things, but really, is there anything else? Stick with it, or start over?