Career Advice

What are Employment Barriers?

A barrier to employment can be any challenge that may prevent a person from getting or keeping a job, or advancing in their career. Learn more here.

Leila Le
Published: (Updated: ) - 6 min read
As an Operations Lead, Leila oversees Simplify's blog & newsletter, reaching 100K job-seekers monthly, where she brings experience curating resources for candidates to help them land their dream job.

Photo by Unseen Studio / Unsplash

Employment barriers refer to the challenges and hurdles that individuals face when seeking employment or striving to advance in their careers. These barriers can take various forms, such as limited access to education, discrimination based on gender, race or age, language barriers, and socioeconomic factors such as poverty or lack of access to resources.

It's crucial to recognize and address these barriers to create a fair and equitable job market that benefits everyone. In this article, we'll explore the different types of employment barriers and provide practical advice on how to overcome them. By doing so, we hope to help individuals facing these challenges achieve their career aspirations and unlock their full potential.


As an older worker, it's disheartening to face employment barriers due to age discrimination. You may feel like your experience and expertise are being undervalued, but it's important to keep in mind that age can actually be an asset in the workforce. Employers are starting to recognize the value that older workers can bring to their organizations, and laws like the ADEA protect workers over the age of 40 from discrimination. To overcome age-related employment barriers, it's crucial to highlight your experience and skills when applying for jobs. Be sure to focus on your achievements and explain how your experience can benefit potential employers.

Another strategy to overcome age-related employment barriers is to stay current with industry trends. Keeping your skills relevant by staying informed about industry trends and new technologies can demonstrate your willingness to learn and adapt to new situations. This is especially important in fields that are constantly changing, such as technology or social media. Attending conferences, workshops, and other training opportunities can help you stay up-to-date, positioning yourself as a valuable asset to potential employers, regardless of your age.

Having a Disability

Disabilities can range from physical to mental health conditions and may affect your ability to perform certain tasks or work in specific environments. This can make it challenging to find and maintain employment. However, there are resources and support available to help you overcome these barriers.

To overcome physical barriers related to disabilities, it's important to communicate your needs and requirements to potential employers. Be proactive in requesting accommodations that can help you perform your job to the best of your abilities. This can include things like assistive technology, flexible work arrangements, or modified workspaces. Additionally, it's important to research employers that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion and prioritize companies that value and support individuals with disabilities.

Another way to overcome attitudinal barriers related to disabilities is to connect with support networks and resources. This can include disability rights organizations, vocational rehabilitation services, or disability employment services. These organizations can offer job coaching, assist with job search and placement, and provide resources to help you build your skills and confidence. By connecting with these resources, you can gain the support you need to overcome employment barriers related to your disability and achieve your career goals.

Criminal Records

If you have a criminal record, finding employment can be challenging due to the stigma and barriers that come with it. Employers may have concerns about safety, liability, and reputation, which can make it difficult for you to secure a job. This can lead to a cycle of poverty and criminal behavior that can be hard to break. But don't let this discourage you.

It's important to know that having a criminal record doesn't automatically disqualify you from employment. Some states have implemented "ban the box" policies to prevent employers from asking about criminal history on job applications. Furthermore, some employers have recognized the value of hiring individuals with criminal records and offer second chance hiring programs. These programs provide training, support, and job opportunities to individuals with criminal records, helping them reintegrate into society and avoid further criminal activity. By taking advantage of these resources, you can overcome the barriers you face and find meaningful employment.

Lack of Education

If you're facing employment barriers due to a lack of education, it can be frustrating to feel like you're not qualified for the job you want. However, it's important to remember that education is not the only measure of success. Many individuals have achieved great things without traditional education or degrees, and employers are starting to recognize the value of skills and experience in addition to formal education.

To overcome employment barriers related to education, it's important to highlight your skills and any relevant training you may have received. Focus on demonstrating how your experience can benefit potential employers and how you can contribute to their organization. Additionally, there are many resources available to help individuals improve their skills and gain the education and training necessary to succeed in their desired career paths. Consider reaching out to career counselors or educational institutions to learn more about the options available to you.

Remember, your education or lack thereof does not define your worth or your ability to succeed. Focus on your strengths, seek out resources and support, and keep working towards your goals. With perseverance and determination, you can overcome education-related employment barriers and find success in your career.

Are you looking for a career change? Check out our piece on important things to consider when choosing a career here!

Long Employment Gaps

Finding employment can be difficult for individuals who have taken a break from the workforce and have long employment gaps, as it may be perceived as a red flag by employers. While there are many understandable reasons for taking time off work, such as personal or family reasons, employers may view long gaps in employment as a red flag. It's important to address these gaps in a way that doesn't raise concerns for potential employers.

One effective way to address long employment gaps is to be transparent about the reason for the gap and any steps taken during that time to develop skills or stay current in your industry. You can also consider using a functional resume format that highlights your skills and experience rather than a traditional chronological resume that focuses on your work history. Volunteering or taking on freelance projects during the employment gap can also demonstrate your continued commitment to your field and keep your skills fresh.

By proactively addressing long employment gaps and highlighting your skills and experience, you can increase your chances of finding a job that is a good fit for you. Don't be discouraged by the gap in your employment history; instead, focus on your strengths and take steps to show potential employers that you are a qualified candidate.

Want to make your resume stand out? Check out our blog for tips and tricks on how to upgrade it creatively here!

Money Issues

If you are struggling with financial constraints that are preventing you from finding employment, there are resources available to help you overcome these barriers. Don't let financial difficulties limit your ability to access transportation, appropriate work attire, or resources for job training or education. Take advantage of government programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that can provide financial assistance to eligible individuals.

You can also seek out nonprofit organizations and community-based programs that offer financial assistance or job training programs to help you gain the skills and resources necessary to secure employment. Don't hesitate to connect with these resources and seek support to help you overcome financial barriers and achieve success in your job search.

Remember, individuals who have experienced financial insecurity or poverty may face additional challenges related to mental and physical health, which can impact their ability to secure and maintain employment. Prioritize taking care of yourself and seek out resources that can provide support for your overall well-being. By taking proactive steps and seeking out resources, you can overcome financial barriers and achieve success in your job search.

Inappropriate Social Media Content

Many employers now use social media as a way to screen job applicants, so it's important to be mindful of what you post online. Posts that contain offensive language, discriminatory remarks, or inappropriate content could make you less attractive to potential employers. Even if you delete a post, it may still be accessible through screenshots or archives.

To avoid this barrier, it's important to clean up your social media presence before starting your job search. Take the time to review your profiles and remove any content that could be deemed offensive or inappropriate. You may also want to adjust your privacy settings to limit who can see your posts. Remember, your social media presence can say a lot about you as a person and as a potential employee. By being mindful of what you post online, you can avoid creating unnecessary barriers in your job search.

Land Your Dream Job With Simplify Today

Simplify is a powerful tool that can help you overcome employment barriers and land your dream job. With features like personalized job recommendations, resume optimization, and job application tracking, Simplify makes it easy to find and apply for jobs that fit your skills and experience.

Whether you're facing age discrimination, a criminal record, or other barriers to employment, Simplify can help you navigate the job search process and find opportunities that match your qualifications. Don't let employment barriers hold you back from achieving your career goals. Sign up for Simplify today and take the first step towards landing your dream job.

Which job is right for you? Sign-up on Simplify and get matched with jobs that fit your skills and interests. More than 1 million applications were submitted using Simplify this year – check it out!