How to deal with hidden barriers

In our last post we defined hidden barriers to employment. In this one we are once again going to rely on Larry Robbin to help us determine how to deal with those barriers.

Here are a few tips:

  • The way for job developers to get people to talk about their barriers is to talk about their own first. A successful technique that Larry Robbin uses is to tell people his own hidden barriers to employment, such as the fact that he’s hard of hearing, is a cancer survivor and has PTSD.
  • Talk about common hidden barriers you see in your program. When you bring up the hidden barriers early, it starts people on the process of recognizing and working on them and can help lower their denial and resistance.
  • Talking about how you and your program helped people overcome these barriers gives a person hope. They will be more likely to be successful in eliminating the barrier.
  • Have people who have overcome hidden barriers speak in your group orientations.
  • Distribute a list of the most common hidden barriers to employment seen in your program with information on how they were overcome.
  • Work from a social systems model to get the input of others who know the jobseeker. Find out what these people know that you don’t know and what they see that you don’t see.
  • Have program participations, staff or other people who have overcome hidden barriers teach you how to spot them.
  • Celebrate the strength it took to acknowledge the barrier. Talk bout how this strength will help the jobseeker deal with that barrier. It’s important to celebrate the breakthroughs. Many people only concentrate on the negative stuff, not the good stuff.
  • Talk about how dealing with the barrier will not only help the individual but also the other people in their lives.
  • Conduct workplace tours and employer panels to get people comfortable with the idea of going back to work.

In the past two blog entries, we’ve dealt with defining and dealing with hidden barriers to employment. In our next entry, we’ll discuss how to close the referral gap.


$10-$20 can make a difference and provide funding to send job search books to prison and jail libraries and expand our tattoo removal outreach.

Posted in Job Development.

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