Understanding barriers to change and when you may encounter them

Top tips to help you identify career barriers (barriers to change) and how to knock them down.

What you will learn

  • About common obstacles faced by people changing jobs or careers 
  • Steps towards overcoming barriers to your progress

We all know that changing job can be exciting but sometimes it can also be daunting. You get to learn about the new workplace; the culture, meeting new colleagues, tackling new duties and getting to grips on management. You also have to learn how things are run are all things that can be difficult at the beginning. Although scary it is great that you have made the leap into changing career or job. 
 
A career change is a big jump for anyone but it can be a positive new beginning. Whether you are looking to move into a completely different sector or just want a new challenge, it is always important to ask yourself a few questions before you take the leap. Ask yourself why you are seeking a new job/career? Are there other companies that are a better fit for your personality and values? 
 
Changing employers or job might not be the only option. Many people move on without considering their emotional links to their current workplace.  You might have been working there for a while, made strong working relationships or just like the work your company does. Perhaps you do not need a change of career but a new role with a different focus.  
 
A lot of consideration goes into your decision to change career or adopting a new role. This can lead to mental obstacles and self-doubt. You may not have the direct experience in the career you now want to pursue, however you can acquire wisdom and experience wherever you work and whatever you do. A surprising amount of your skills and experience can be transferred and applied wherever you go. One of the most important things you can do is to identify your career barriers and how to break them down.

Barriers to change

Here are 8 common career barriers most people have when making a new job or career change and how to overcome them.

“I don’t have the skills or experience”

Focusing on what you cannot do and on the resources you do not have might be stopping you from making a career or job change. It is essential to note that no employer will hire you based on the things you do not know or have. To make your dream of changing job come true be sure to identify your specific (plus transferable) skills and knowledge that can contribute to the new position. By doing so, you should feel more empowered to take the necessary steps towards a new role.

“I don’t know what I want to do?”

You might be considering changing your job, however when you sit down and work out what this means (re-education, different commute, reduced/increased salary, different impact on family/children etc), you may find yourself rethinking the whole situation. Therefore, it is important to dig deep within yourself to understand if the move is truly what you want. By doing this, you will gain more clarity that will enable you to overcome the fear of changing your job.

“What does career change mean?”

You might be cautious when making your career/job change because you do not know much about that new position (hours, salary, skill set, career progression etc). Make sure to research more about that opportunity either online, in books, or from people in that profession. You could also attend job and career fairs to learn more regarding the job you want. Just make sure to get the most out of these events (see our article on networking). The information you gather will go a long way in boosting your confidence ahead of that job shift.

“What if the job/career change will have an impact on my finances?”

If your new job/career is going to have a negative impact on your finances, it is best to plan for this. Having a higher salary does not always equal a happier work-life balance. Make sure you are comfortable and are able to live on the new salary, or even start saving to make sure that you can sustain yourself when you don’t have a job or are hunting for another. Doing this will keep you from money worries that might be stopping you from moving from one job to the other. It may be wise to discuss this with other members of the household who may be affected, and together work out a plan how to achieve this.

“I don’t have the confidence to move into a new career”

You might have been rejected from a position before and this dented your confidence. As such your fear of rejection or failure might be keeping you from looking for a new job. So, take some time to overcome any job search issues you might be having, and then when the time is right, start again and begin looking for the new job.

“Now is not the right time”

It is not possible to plan your entire career in your mind. Unexpected things can happen that can impact your career e.g. redundancies, COVID-19 etc, but it is part of your journey. Be optimistic in your future and accept that a career journey is a gradual process that begins with one step at a time will help you to overcome some self-doubt.

“I don’t know anyone within the industry”

Lack of people to support you as you seek to shift your job can be what is undermining your progress. Make sure you are finding the right people to mentor you on your career journey, whether it is friends, relatives, work colleagues or people you have met from networking events. Find people who are in similar roles and learn from them, remember that someone has always been in your position, you do not have to go at this alone.

“I haven’t been successful in the past”

What happened in your past will may not repeat itself in the future. If you had a rubbish boss or were underpaid at your previous job, you might end up with a decent employer and salary by accepting that these things are in the past. If this does happen again, face the future with what you have learned from what has happened in past.


Remember that your career is a journey and every step you take will only add to your experience and skill development. Be open to change and stay positive for your future.

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