How to Overcome Common Barriers to Employment

How to Overcome Common Barriers to Employment

When you're looking for a job, the odds can seem overwhelming. Finding work takes work, and it certainly doesn't happen overnight. If you want a job offer, you need to understand the barriers to employment and to know how you can overcome those barriers. Here's a closer look at what you should do to improve your chances of a job offer.

The Common Barriers to Employment

If you want to improve your chances of a job offer, you need to understand what's standing in your way. While everyone faces different challenges when it comes to employment, there are a few obstacles that plague most job seekers.

Here's a closer look at the common obstacles to employment:



Criminal record

Domestic violence


Housing instability


Employment gap


Social media




Before you start applying for jobs, think about which of those issues might affect you. For instance, you might have an old felony on your record. Your record could keep you from a job offer. It's important to address the possible issues and be ready to overcome them.

How to Overcome the Obstacles

Each specific obstacle is surmountable, but you need to know what to do to take on the challenge. Here are some of the barriers and a few tips to moving past them:


Unfortunately, employers tend to have a bias with regard to age. If you're elderly, an employer might assume you don't have the technological prowess to succeed. And, if you're too young, they might see you as inexperienced. You can make sure your age doesn't play a role by overcoming stereotypes. If you're older, highlight your experience and include a few advanced certifications. Meanwhile, new graduates can overcome an age bias by discussing their college work experience and projects.

Criminal Record

More than one in every three Americans has a criminal record. Sadly, that record often keeps people from finding work. As soon as an employer runs a background check, you could lose your opportunity. To minimize the impact of your record, try to have it expunged. At the very least, be ready to explain your changed ways. An employer wants to know that you won't make the same mistakes you made in the past.


According to the CDC, one out of every four people has a disability. So, it's safe to say that about 61 million Americans have a disability. Although there are protections in place to prevent discrimination from happening during the hiring process, discrimination still happens. If you ever have a situation where you feel as if the employer discriminated against you based on a disability, you should speak with a lawyer. Unless the disability would keep you from performing the tasks, you deserve an equal chance at employment.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics released research that showed education has a direct impact on employment. If you don't have a high school degree or a college education, you might struggle to find work. Fortunately, you can get your GED or take online courses to make up for your lack of degrees. If you take industry-relevant courses, you can even the playing field.

Gaps in Employment

Most employers will hold employment gaps against you. Whether you took off a year to help a loved one or you took three months to switch careers, you might not have many job offers. Since Covid, employment gaps have been particularly common. Because children couldn't go to school, parents found it difficult to return to work. Now that there's more stability, these parents can return to work. But employers don't like seeing the gap on the resume.

If you want to overcome your employment gap, explain it. On the day of your interview, be ready to discuss your intermittent employment. Most employers are understanding of the circumstances.


Believe it or not, your finances could keep you from working. If you have a lot of debt, an employer might not hire you. Some employers run credit checks and disqualify candidates with poor credit. You can prevent your debt from being an obstacle by taking measures to improve your credit score. Pay off as much debt as possible, and you may be able to boost your credit.

Social Media

Before hiring you, an employer might check your social media accounts. If you have photos of you doing illegal activities or partying, an employer may not hire you. Long before you go on an interview, make your social media more presentable. Remove pictures of you with your college friends or anything else that seems unprofessional.

No Childcare

You can't work if you don't have someone to watch your children. If you can't afford daycare or aren't sure who to turn to for help, consider looking into public assistance. There are some programs dedicated to offering low-cost childcare. Another option might be a work-from-home position.

Not Enough Skills or Training

You can build up your own skills by taking free online courses or by working as a freelancer. As you learn skills, include them on your resume. The more industry-related skills you have, the better your chances of finding a job.

No Experience

If you're a new college grad, this is a problem that may seem to plague you. Employers want people to have degrees, but they don't want to hire someone with no experience. While you're in school, you should take advantage of internships and volunteer opportunities. You don't need to have an actual job to gain experience.

Now, you can put what you know to the test. Instead of seeing these obstacles as barriers, think of them as small speedbumps. There are simple things you can be doing to move past them and to get a job offer.

As you search for jobs, look for positions that will minimize your troubles. For instance, someone with a convicted felony might look for jobs that don't run background checks. A college graduate might look for entry-level positions.

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