Overcoming the Barriers to Employment
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Overcoming the Barriers to Employment

The following is a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the program’s website.

By Ake Saethia, Student Services Coordinator

Becoming gainfully employed is one of the biggest goals and challenges our students face. In order to achieve this lofty goal, students must identify and overcome internal and external barriers to employment. In this article we will identify some of the most common barriers, and give you tips to overcome them and find the job of your dreams.

External barriers to employment:

Lack of perceived opportunities

No access to open positions, not wanting to apply for a specific type of job despite an interest in the industry, and/or a belief that the job market is not favorable.

Social capacity

Concern that you don’t know enough people, or the right people to cultivate employment opportunities.

Overcoming job barriers

Internal barriers to employment:

Overcoming internal job barriers

Lack of knowledge, skills, or expressive ability

Perception that your own knowledge about a specific topic is high, but the actual applied knowledge is not quite as high or supported through tangible experiences.

Difficulty adequately sharing your experience with a potential employer, or describing your skills and abilities as it related to the position.


Anxiety about failure and about the process of meeting new people through interviewing are all common.

Some ways that you can overcome these barriers are to:

1. Focus on a job goal and break it down into smaller objectives rather than looking at a broad career or life plan. This well help you stay on track with achievable tasks.

2. Understand that the job search process is difficult and can often be an emotional journey with some successes and some challenges.

3. Stay positive and celebrate any success, or completion of a goal.

4. Create a community map highlighting the places you frequently go (i.e. grocery store, Game Stop, library, church, etc.) – inquire with these organizations about potential jobs, mentorships or volunteer opportunities to expand your social networks. Even if they do not have anything when you ask, stay in touch.

5. Contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation Departments to seek resources and opportunities for development. Another alternative is to look into AmeriCorps which offers long term service opportunities (10-12 months) and will provide you with a stipend in exchange for your commitment.

6. Examine your strengths and look for creative opportunities to market yourself, such as creating a blog or podcast about your possible industry or area of interest.

While there are challenges for individuals with disabilities in seeking and obtaining employment, implementing some of these strategies can help you circumnavigate and overcome the barriers.

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