Seven Obstacles to Getting Hired

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What obstacles have you encountered when changing to a new job or career?

When I work with clients who want to change jobs or careers, we always spend some time addressing their individual obstacles to getting hired. At some point in the search process, almost everyone feels that they are too much of this or not enough that, and they have no idea how to deal with the obstacle in the way. The good news is that there are specific things you can do to minimize the obstacles you encounter when looking for a new job or career.

Here are Seven Obstacles to Getting Hired, along with some tips to overcome each one.

1. Age

Age is about perception, not reality. Don’t telegraph your age or state it outright. The desirable employee is a professional adult who can clearly communicate who they are and what they offer a company. The desirable employee also expresses a genuine interest in working and a passion for contributing to a company. Make sure your appearance, attitude, and words communicate this image. Consider editing your resume to remove dates more than 10-15 years old for work experience and dates more than 5-7 years old for education.


2. Job hopping

Job hopping is when you change jobs frequently, every 1-2 years or so. This is often an issue for contractors or temp workers. It is important to reframe this obstacle as an asset, showing your ability to adapt quickly to new situations and be productive right away.


3. Gaps in employment

Gaps can be caused by the economy, family issues, personal health issues, or even going back to school. How you address the gap in your job search tools depends on the length and nature of the gap. As a general guideline, it is good to be proactive in the job application stage, and address the gaps. Many people fill the gaps in work history with volunteer or unpaid work experience. If you are in a gap right now, consider training or volunteer experience to demonstrate an interest in keeping your work skills current.


4. No clear career path

If you have never really decided on a career, your work history may include a variety of jobs, without an obvious career path. In this case it is up to you to target a specific job in your search. Update your job search tools to highlight your qualifications to target that specific job. Be able to clearly communicate how your unique experience has prepared you to succeed in the target job.


5. “I was fired.”

First, be very clear about why you were terminated. Being fired means terminated with cause. Losing your job due to layoffs or position elimination is not the same as getting fired. If you have been fired, the only time to address it is when you are specifically asked in an interview. Then say “Yes.” Follow up with a brief a description of the lesson you learned, and how that makes you a better employee today. For instance, “Yes I was fired from Job X. And from that experience I learned to be proactive in my communications with my boss and my peers. Today, I make sure that I keep all key persons informed about relevant progress or problems on my projects.”


6. Out of date skills

If your skills are out of date, or not current, do some research on what skills or tools you need to succeed in your job, then go seek training. There are many options today for training and developing skills online, at community colleges, and at your local office of employment services.


7. Attitude

I spoke with a woman the other day that was very angry about losing her job. Unfortunately, anger and frustration pervaded every conversation she had about looking for work. Even if she didn’t say the words, I could hear it in her tone of voice and see it in her body language. She also tended to blame everyone and everything around her for her situation. This woman’s feelings were valid. But because she hadn’t sought the support she needed to deal with them, they were now infecting her job search. People want to hire people who are passionate and enthusiastic, and genuinely interested in working for and contributing to a company. When networking, people also tend to want to help those who have a great attitude and energy. It is important to focus on keeping a positive attitude when you are networking and interviewing.


Everyone encounters some sort of obstacle when looking for a job. I know I have. But you can take actions to minimize the obstacles you encounter when looking for a new job or career.

Experienced an obstacle not on this list? Please share it with me on my blog, and I’ll give you suggestions on how to deal with it.


From the workshop “Overcoming Obstacles to Employment” created by Deb Berger and Lori Howard. Copyright 2012.  All Rights Reserved.

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