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Barriers to Employment

A physical condition or personal situation can make it hard to find or keep a job.

Many job seekers experience one or more barriers to employment during their careers. Although this makes finding or keeping a job more difficult, it's not impossible. Some barriers, such as lack of transportation, are temporary and easier to address than others.

Common Barriers to Employment

  • Age
  • Criminal record
  • Disabilities
  • Disadvantaged background
  • Domestic violence
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • Education
  • Employer biases
  • Has a child with special needs
  • Housing issues or homelessness
  • Job search skills
  • Lacks basic and employability skills
  • Limited English proficiency
  • Long-term welfare recipient
  • Mental illness
  • Needs training
  • Needs child care assistance
  • No high school diploma
  • No transportation
  • Gaps in employment

Don't be afraid, ashamed, or embarrassed to seek or ask for help. There are ways to overcome these barriers:

How to Find Resources to Help

If you can't overcome your barriers on your own, work with an employment advisor to learn about the resources and support available to you. An employment advisor can also provide a well-coordinated, overall support system to help you find training, counseling, basic needs assistance, help to find a job, and with continued support in the workplace and at home. Job counselors, WorkForce Centers, and case workers can serve as coaches and help you find out if you can get help for your particular situation.

If you are struggling with more than one barrier, you may need to connect with different resources to help with each barrier.

Addressing Barriers in the Job Hunt

In order to be successful in your job hunt, you need to be the type of employee that employers want to hire. This is true for every job seeker, not just those with barriers. Employers want people with the right skills to do the work, a personality that fits the company culture, and a good work ethic.

All job seekers need to focus on their qualifications and positive traits, not on their barriers. If an employer asks about your barrier in a job interview, be prepared to talk about how it will not affect your ability to be a good employee:

  • Identify the barrier. Sometimes the employer doesn't understand what the barrier is or how it does and does not affect your ability to work.

  • Get some perspective on the barrier. Only talk about how the barrier might affect your ability to do your job or interact with people. If the barrier does not affect your job, then make sure the employer knows this.

  • Come up with workable solutions and goals. Be proactive and give the employer suggestions as to how you can minimize your barrier or find ways for it to not affect your job. Talk with an employment advisor to get suggestions.