Addressing Barriers to Employment


Carlotta Daniels-Randolph | 6/1/2013, 6:54 a.m.

As the national unemployment numbers gradually creep downward and job seekers find it a bit easier to find full-time opportunities there are still many individuals that find it difficult to secure employment.

What is standing between those who are looking for work and a good a job?

Cynics might guess that those who can’t find work really do not want to work—at least not in the jobs that are available to them. Or, the individuals may not possess the skills and experience that are in demand. There may be instances where this is true, but in reality it is a little more complicated than that. Skills gaps can be remedied with training and education; however, there are still other barriers to employment for some.

Interviewing hundreds of seasoned displaced workers and novice job seekers through more than one economic downturn has provided some insight into what is challenging them to secure new employment. Many seasoned workers have cited that they had been with their company for many years and the job search process was much simpler when they first started. Some never had a resume or even a formal interview. They knew someone on the inside who gave them a reference, they completed the application then met briefly with the supervisor and that was that.

It’s quite a different process now with drug screenings, deep background checks that for certain positions include credit checks and a lengthy interview process with personality and skills tests.

Both the older worker who had the same employer for two decades or more or the novice job seeker whose youthful indiscretions have negatively impacted that individual’s ability to land a job face unique challenges that are difficult to overcome. These situations are difficult to overcome yes, but not impossible. Here are some strategies that may help:

All unemployed and under-employed job seekers can get support from one-stop employment services center operated by the state. Many are located on the campuses of community colleges. There you can get assistance in putting together a resume, learning how to interview effectively and a variety of job leads. Training and education opportunities for in demand skills may also be available.

For older workers it is important to demonstrate knowledge of and a level of comfort or proficiency in the use of current workplace information technology and personal communications devices. Basic use of a PC or MAC is the least of it. It should be clear that you know how to use a smart phone, and that you know what a Tablet is. If you use or at least know of Twitter and Instagram that’s a plus. Why? Because unfortunately too many hiring managers assume older job seekers are not tech savvy when so many actually are.

Experience and good work ethic are two of the most cited positive attributes of seasoned workers so place emphasizes on this in your resume, cover letter and interview. Unfortunately, older workers are also thought to be change adverse, therefore it is important to demonstrate flexibility and openness to change.