Build Career Resilience to Overcome Your Career Barriers

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Your capacity to adjust and adapt to a changing work environment indicates your career resilience. It reflects the intimate interactions between your job functionality, the inner workings of your mind, and your relationship with the world that surrounds you. Your career resilience depends upon your confidence, sense of control, independence in decision making, risk-taking ability, ability to appraise events and circumstances, need for achievement, and quick-response attitude. Now, that is a mouthful, but you cannot afford to neglect to foster any of those strengths if you want a resilient career that can withstand and shatter common career barriers.

In his definitive study published as Career Barriers: How People Experience, Overcome, and Avoid Failure, Manuel London identifies and categorizes the following examples of common career barriers:

General organizational/environmental barriers:
  • Limited career opportunities
  • Technological change
  • Changing business climate
  • Early career ceiling
Specific organizational, environmental, and situational barriers:
  • Job demands
  • Poor supervision
  • Organizational change
  • Business failure
  • Multi-role conflict
  • Uncertainty about the future
  • Disapproval by others
  • Lack of information
  • Company relocation
  • Underutilization
  • Electronic monitoring
Organizational actions that affect specific individuals:
  • Job loss
  • Whistle-blowing
  • Job stress
  • Denial of tenure
  • Demotion
  • Passed over for promotion
  • Job transfer
General individual barriers:
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Low motivation
  • Desire for a non-traditional lifestyle
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Indecision
  • Overqualification
  • Late-life career transition
Job-specific individual barriers:
  • Job mismatch
  • Disaffection
  • Inadequate experience/training
  • Physical disability
Non-job-related individual barriers:
  • Discrimination or unfair treatment
  • Status-dependent complexes
  • Non-work losses
In order to overcome career barriers, it is necessary to understand that a career barrier is not simply an objective event. To tackle it, the affected person must be able to perceive the career barrier as what it is: something that is obstructing his or her career. The same event can have very different meanings for the lives of different people. While some people may be devastated by job losses and lose the reins of their careers, a person who is able to recognize a job loss as a career barrier and work around it might find the loss of that particular job to be the best thing that has happened in his or her life. How one is able to perceive a career barrier determines how he or she will react or respond to the barrier.



You may find yourself obstructed by a single career barrier or run into a combination of them. They can come from inside you, due to your personal attributes, or they may be external in nature. Career barriers can often arise from factors that are external even to the employer organization, such as economic trends, globalization, new technology, and competition. Thus, there is no single technique or strategy for dealing with each and every type of career barrier aside from building career insight, career identity, and career resilience.

However, research has proven that people can tackle career barriers effectively only when they can reformulate their career insights and career identities according to their circumstances. Their ability to do so depends upon their career resilience. Without high career resilience, people cannot appraise career barriers properly and create strategies for coping constructively with such situations. While career insight (i.e., accurately understanding the nature of one's career) and career identity (the development of specific goals associated with one's career) can be built with less effort, building one's career resilience requires a higher degree of mobilization and utilization of personal and external resources. This is why one should constructively focus on building career resilience; it is the foundation upon which his or her career depends.

Source: London, Manuel. Career Barriers: How People Experience, Overcome, and Avoid Failure. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998.
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 lifestyles  environments  technological changes  risks  transitions  careers  climates  physical disabilities


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