3: Analyze Your Habits

Strategies to Help You Overcome Barriers to Employment

Anything that continuously distracts you or takes you away from work has a negative effect on your earning capacity, which lessens your financial well-being. So, it is wise to make proactive plans to address any barriers you may have.

Consider these examples to help you brainstorm plans for your own barriers:

  • Could you take public transportation, carpool, walk or bike to work? Could you work from home? Is there a similar job closer to you? Should you move closer to your employer?
  • Does your employer offer reasonable accommodations — arrangements that enable a person to perform job duties despite a challenge or disability, e.g., special equipment, workspace alterations or modified work schedules — for chronic illness or disability? Can the doctor take evening or weekend appointments? Can you use flexible scheduling to attend the appointments? Is there another reliable adult who can take your child to an appointment? Can you work from home on appointment days?
  • Is there another relative or close friend who can help? Is there an adult care facility where he can stay while you work? Can you afford to hire in-home nursing care? Does he qualify for any home health care services through the Veterans Administration? Should he be living in a dementia facility?
  • Can you seek help with your addiction? Does your doctor know about the addiction and have you asked for help controlling it? If there are drug tests or background checks involved with your employment, do you know how long the drug/alcohol stays in your system? Have you sought behavioral counseling? Are there medications you can take to help you get past the addiction?
  • Obtain a copy of your criminal record to ensure accuracy. Make sure that a guilty/nonguilty or dismissed disposition is included for each charge on your record so employers can accurately assess your criminal history. Learn how to write a Letter of Explanation to explain charges or convictions and the circumstances behind them. Addressing your criminal background in a forthright manner is always the right choice.

Special Topics: Your Self-talk

The way you talk to yourself can affect your confidence when seeking a new career. Using positive inner language can help with your self-talk. You might not totally eliminate it, but there are ways to tone down negative self-talk:

  • Avoid inflexible words and phrases like always, should or never.
  • Treat your self-talk as a third person. If a friend were expressing these thoughts, what advice would you give them? Sometimes it helps to write your self-talk down or speak it aloud so that you can observe your thoughts more objectively.
  • Combat negative thoughts with positive responses. For example, each time you notice yourself having a certain thought, such as, “I’ll never finish my training for this job,” you might think, “I’ll take things one step at a time and re-evaluate my training in six months.”

The way your friends and family speak to you also can influence your career. Consider pressures family puts on you to have a certain career or maintain a certain lifestyle. Do the words or actions of those close to you help you? What (if anything) can you do to get your family to support your career choice?

smiley face saying it's OK

It’s OK to pursue your career interests, no matter what Aunt Jenny thinks about it!

Special Topic: Employer Credit Checks

What if a potential employer asks to run a credit check? Several states have restricted or prohibited the use of credit information in the applicant screening process, but employers are allowed to run a credit check if you have given permission.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Credit checks can be part of the background information employers gather, and it is a standard practice for some industries such as financial services.
  • You must give your written permission.
  • An employer credit check does not reveal your credit score, age, year of birth or account numbers. It does list sources and types of credit.

Learn More about Credit

If you think your credit history may be a roadblock in your earnings strategy, take a moment to review SAM’s Money Basics: Credit and Debt course for helpful information about reviewing your credit report and verifying information it contains.

Special Topic: Job-Hopping and Job Longevity

Should you stay or should you go? Besides being the lyrics to a catchy song by The Clash, this question should be considered carefully as it relates to your employment history. Views of job hopping or staying on with an employer are changing in the 21st century. Some questions to consider as you change jobs or stay on with an employer include:

  • Does job-hopping demonstrate that I am flexible/adaptable or does the employer value loyalty?
  • Am I changing jobs because I want to pursue other interests? Are there new opportunities within my existing employment situation that I haven’t considered?
  • Will changing jobs mean I give up vacation, seniority or other benefits (e.g., vesting in an employer-sponsored retirement plan)?
  • Have I been overlooked by staying at my job too long? Do my title, salary, benefits and bonuses accurately reflect the work I have done in my current role?
  • Will I have more professional development opportunities if I change jobs? Is there a defined career path in my current situation?
  • Am I challenged in my current role? Am I making use of my professional connections? Do I need more excitement?

Every decision has pros and cons. Reviewing your work history and offering clear explanations for multiple changes will ease the interview process if you are repeatedly changing jobs. But you also need to consider the risks if you stay too long in a dead-end position — especially when it comes to meeting your financial aspirations.

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