Turning Challenges Into Strengths: Overcoming Barriers to Employment Ashley Barber
June 6th, 2022
Finding a new job is difficult, no argument here. Trying to break into a new career is challenging when you have no relevant experience. The amount of time and energy that you spend trying to just get an interview is astonishing. There are several barriers that can prevent you from landing the next job or starting in your dream career, but it’s knowing how to navigate through them and turning them into strengths that is the trick!
According to Indeed, there are 4 common barriers that may be keeping you from getting the job.
- Lack of experience (new graduates, changing careers)
- Gaps in employment
- Insufficient education or training
- Absence of reliable professional references or referrals
Lack of experience
Maybe you are a high school or college graduate with only theoretical knowledge, changing your career, or entering into the workforce for the first time. Either way, the first thing that employers look at is experience. Unfortunately, a lack of experience could indicate to employers that hiring you will be costly. Training takes time and starting from scratch will take more time.
What is the phrase, “time is money”? The time it will take to train you from scratch is more time to train and ultimately, cost more. Now a lack of experience isn’t always a bad thing. Some companies love to hire people with no experience. There are no bad habits to unlearn. This allows them to train people to do the job exactly the way they want . So if you don’t have the experience, try applying for an entry level position where training is available. Update your resume and cater to the audience you are trying to reach. Capitalize on what you do have to offer; make sure to include transferable skills or personal experiences that are applicable to the job. If you can, follow up with the company or hiring manager you sent your application or resume to. Take this time to introduce yourself and ask if they have received your information. Inquire if there are any other materials or information that is required. Be respectful and patient. If you are not selected for an interview or offered the position, that’s ok. You have already made the strides to make a connection with the company and they will most likely keep you in mind for future opportunities.
Gaps in Employment
Life happens, right? Although there are times that you were unable to work, leading to gaps in employment history, you’ll need to account for the time away. Employers may see the gaps as indicators of lacking motivation, being unproductive, or simply the inability to keep a job. If this is
you, start by determining why you are unemployed to begin with. Based on the reason for unemployment, you can start to compile skills, qualities, and perspectives from that experience. You could also include this information in your cover letter to address the gap and give an explanation as to why. Another avenue is to include the gap in your resume with an explanation and skills gained during that time. It’s a good idea to submit your resume using a format that forces the reader to look at the skills and overall experience to avoid focusing on any gaps in employment.
Lack of Education
The great thing about education is that it’s never too late to learn! If you are seeking a career that requires a certain level of education, make a plan to reach that goal. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement programs and as long as you complete your education within a certain period of time. Of course, this is something that should be discussed with your employer.
In the meantime, search for jobs that are willing to look at a combination of education and experience. Your experience shows your knowledge and ability to apply that knowledge. So even though you may not meet all of the education requirements, you may not be out of the running! Employers tend to look at your commitment to self-improvement as an indicator of your dedication to fulfill their requirements.
Absence of references or referrals
Don’t know where to start? Think of all the people you have worked with that could vouch for your experience and skills. Reach out and share your goals and professional background with them and ask them to do the same. Quid pro quo, right? Make the effort to be active on networking sites like Linkedin to increase your network. The more interactions you have, the larger your network will grow. Continue to cultivate your network by attending networking events in person and online. There are so many avenues available to expand your network, and yes, it will take a little work on your part. The people you meet and grow relationships with could potentially be your next employer!
There are other barriers that could occur to include:
- Criminal Record
- Financial Trouble
- Inappropriate Social Media Content
- Lack of Childcare
Oftentimes, there are agencies that are available to help you with said obstacles. Do the research before you apply so you’ll be able to navigate the employment process easier. Speak with an employment agency like VP Total Solutions to see if there are any positions available that fit your skill set. They can also help you get your resume in order and even practice interviewing. Ultimately, it’s up to you to take action and prove you’re the right candidate for the job!
Conquering Obstacles in the Path Toward Getting a Job. (n.d.). Bonney Staffing. Retrieved June 6, 2022, from https://bonneystaffing.com/blog/barriers-to-employment/
Frazer, L. (n.d.). How To Overcome 4 Common Job Search Barriers. Indeed. Retrieved June 7, 2022, from
- Michigan - Unemployment rate 2021. (2022, May 2). Statista. Retrieved June 6, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/189438/unemployment-rate-in-michigan-since-1992/
Thork, J. (n.d.). Overcome Common Barriers to Employment | Monster.com. Monster Jobs.
Retrieved June 7, 2022, from