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12 Potential Job Search Roadblocks (and How to Overcome Them)

Topics: Career Advice
job search roadblocks
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Life is full of struggle, which is why we cheer so hard when one of us overcomes adversity and succeeds.

You know how hard it is to navigate a job search or other professional challenges when personal issues come up. Relationship problems, for example, or struggles with money can dominate your mind and emotions and leave little room for focusing on business. At some point, your worries become reality and distract you from the other important things in your life. It could hurt you professionally if you’re not prepared.

During a job search, you need to have focus. Become familiar with these potential roadblocks and learn how to navigate them, and your job search will go more smoothly:

1. Obsessing Over Career Choices

Look for balance when navigating your career choices. Keep your eyes open throughout, rather than obsessing over a single employer or opportunity.

Networking is the single most useful tool in a job seeker’s job search toolbox. Stay engaged in your job search by being active in professional organizations, social networks such as Linkedin and Facebook and add value by referring others.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

2. Paying Enough Attention to Privacy Settings

You’ll hear words such as transparency and vulnerability often without the context of privacy. Although you should be careful about how much you’ll reveal about your personal life, you’ll need to protect any personally identifiable information. Read these two articles on and The Washington Post to help you understand and take action.

3. Taking Care of Your Mental Health (It’s Not a Fad!)

NBA All-Star Kevin Love and all-time great tennis star Serena Williams are the latest athletes who are outspoken about taking care of their mental health. Neglected mental health can affect friends and family as much as drug and alcohol abuse. You are not obligated to make this information public especially as employers are looking for ways to exclude candidates for any reason. Even if you’re in a secure job, public acknowledgment of any negative perceived mental health issues can pause a pursuit of your employment.

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4. Standing Out From Start to Hire

You’ll know you’re navigating your job search well when you remain engaged in the job search even when you’re outperforming your peers.

Sammy (name changed) is a full-tenured science professor at a community college, yet, he has his science show on local cable, and does chemistry-related YouTube videos. His reason for putting his knowledge out there is to keep interest in his work. Since making his branding a priority, he continually entertains regularly from other colleges and conferences, although he has achieved substantial job satisfaction.

5. Using References the Right Way

Some of your references may be irrelevant. If you haven’t worked with someone in more than five years, then it’s unlikely they can speak to your strengths.

Technology has changed and your skills have improved since you worked with this person years ago. Possibly, they can vouch for more of your attributes than hard skills. But then again, if it was more than five or 10 years ago, it’s pouring old wine into new wineskins.

6. Volunteering Is Good for Your Career (Unless It Isn’t)

Volunteering is good for your community and your spirit, but beware: if your cause is perceived as political, it could hurt you in the job hunt. It’s your right as an American to donate your time to causes you value, but be aware of the optics. Unless you’re pursuing a political career, being involved with some volunteer work may be problematic for your career.

Otherwise, volunteering is a potent agent to gain experience and knowledge, especially if you’re changing industries.

7. Keeping Your Physical Health Private

Once you make your physical health issues public, they are fair game for scrutiny by employers. Don’t assume that you’ll be protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act. While it’s illegal to discriminate against disabled workers, it’s not illegal to have health requirements to perform the job. Some companies will go farther to accommodate candidates with disabilities, but many employers are still wrestling with how to provide a friendly environment for them.

Discrimination starts as soon as a status update is published. Maybe as a candidate, you can use it to weed out employers you don’t want to work for, but in a tight economy or recession, your prospects are minimal and work against you.

8. Finding an Employer Who Understands Grief

A close friend of mine and mentee died last year of pancreatic cancer. I know it affected me long after his death last August. While no one wants to dwell on the possibility of loss, it’s worth considering whether a potential employer has a good track record of supporting workers in these situations.

There are even a growing amount of employers who are allowing bereavement time and pay for the death of an employee’s pet. You may consider looking for a company who has this benefit available.

9. Coping With Substance Abuse

You don’t need to be as famous as Demi Lovato to suffer the career consequences of drug problems. Drug abuse becomes a career obstacle once it’s reported and even rumored publicly. Carlos had graduated with honors from a small town in the Midwest but had a drug incident in his freshman year. In a small college town, any drug incident occurring around campus is reported to the school and the media. The local paper includes a blurb about the student’s arrest on or off-campus with drugs. Although it was six years ago, it still shows up in Google search results for his name.

10. Negotiating Strategically and Discerningly

I am afraid people press the snooze button when it comes to negotiating, often without understanding why they do it. It’s not just the fear of the discussion, but the lack of preparedness to talk business when it’s time.

It’s also important to understand that negotiation isn’t just for when you take a new job. You’ll need it when you’re at a job and considering your next career move within the company. Prepare, research and understand what’s important to you in seeking the best compensation package.

11. Finding Bias-less Companies

Many people are opting to work where diversity and inclusion are a reality and not just talk. Melissa Dobbins is CEO of, a company seeking to eliminate bias from the hiring process. She says removing bias from the interview process is challenging because, “No one wants to look in the mirror and think they are part of the problem.”

A more diverse workplace doesn’t eliminate bias. Dobbins says, “Bias is the human shortcut.” Researching personnel through LinkedIn and the company website should help someone targeting a diverse company to see if there is diversity in leadership and to talk to employees about their experiences.

12. Changing the Narrative Around Termination

The new reality is that you work at a company until the job you’re hired for is done. That might come sooner than you expected. This will happen a lot more in the future.

Termination isn’t a show-stopper for our careers anymore. There’s no reason to feel shame after being terminated … or to delay getting back to work. Since tenures will be shorter in the future, the recovery time to decompress from the shock will be shorter.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Termination isn’t a show-stopper for our careers anymore. There’s no reason to feel shame after being terminated … or to delay getting back to work.” quote=”Termination isn’t a show-stopper for our careers anymore. There’s no reason to feel shame after being terminated … or to delay getting back to work.”]

Most employers are looking past terminations — although they still reference check for possible negative patterns and incidents — and will hire on the value the candidate demonstrates. It’s time for you to change the narrative around the meaning of termination and reposition it in other ways so you can move on.

All of us have and will navigate these scenarios but in different ways. Some will need to stop what they’re doing, while others will push through the muck and mire. For sure, we don’t have to struggle alone. We do need to be prepared and ready to reach for the resources we need to shorten or remove potential obstacles for a fulfilling career.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you overcome roadblocks in your career? We want to hear from you. Share your story in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Mark Anthony Dyson
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