Guest post by Leslie West.

There are a lot of reasons people don’t get jobs. Sometimes the guy or woman, who came in after you, just blew you out of the water. It happens. So we just have to push forward and onward to the next opportunity. There will always be some aspects of the job hunt that we can never change, and there will always be a few barriers that keep doors locked. The good news is, in some cases, it’s within your power to obtain the key.

A Criminal Record

Unfortunately for some people a little bit of bad judgment can go a long way into their future. Some mistakes we can learn from and move on while others continue to haunt us for much longer than we could have anticipated. For many people a criminal record is that ghost.

In addition to applications which always ask about a criminal past, background checks are becoming more and more of a common practice in the work place.  Online criminal checks make it easy and affordable for companies to screen any potential employee, which means that, aside from traffic tickets, any previous infractions could be red flags. That’s why it up to you to take steps to control what’s on your own report.

If you have a major conviction in your past, this may be a moot point. But for some smaller indiscretions there are options. If you have any concerns the first step is to run a background check on your self. If you can find it, so can a potential employer. The next step is to find out if you qualify to have your record expunged. There are several criteria which must be met to qualify for this, so it’s probably best to seek legal to determine if you meet the requirements. If you are a Canadian citizen, you will want to look into the record suspension and pardons process. In Canada you may be able to have your slate wiped clean without an attorney.

Wherever you live, a criminal record can be a huge deterrent for employers, especially with an increasingly competitive job market. It’s important to know what a record search will turn up on you and whenever possible, take steps to make that as favorable as possible.

Skill Limitations

Not everybody can be an electrical engineer or a master carpenter. There are some talents which take years to acquire and even longer to master. It’s hard to make a career change into a highly specialized trade without substantial education and training periods. However there are some abilities you can acquire in months or even days that can help make you infinitely more marketable to potential bosses. There are a number of skills like typing, html, management, and Microsoft office proficiency, which will always be useful, and will always look good on a resume. Then there are other competencies like a second language, Adobe Photoshop or other advanced computer programs which are more tailored to specific career tracks.

The first step is to identify the holes in your resume, or what skills are needed to land your dream job. Then you need to determine the best way to go about acquiring the knowledge you need to become a standout candidate. The fact is some training can be done through a weekend certification program, while others may require online schools or even a semester at a local community college. Finding out what you can afford in terms of time and tuition can feel stressful, but in the long run it’s far less stressful than remaining in a dead end job or unemployed because of a lack of education.

Personality Issues

This is a big one. Every company has their own sort of atmosphere. More and more business are beginning to look at new hires in terms of how they will assimilate into the corporate culture. In order to get hired interviewers must feel confident that you will “fit in” at the office. That doesn’t mean you have to be the person that everybody wants to sit with at lunch. It’s not a popularity contest. It’s about making day to day operations run smoothly. If a lot of verbal communication is required among team members, a job candidate must be able to articulate themselves. If the environment is fast paced or competitive, newbies must be able to run with the pack and not crack under pressure. Anger management, organization, time management and even hygiene are all personality issues which can be deal breakers in an office setting.

If personality issues have been a problem in the past, make sure you address them on your own time before you go into a new situation. It’s impossible to think that everyone is always going to get along. To imagine there will never be any head butting or friction on the job is delusional, the trick is to find a way to deal with whatever comes at you in a professional manner. If issues with co-workers have ever cost you a job, spend some time doing serious introspection before trying to get back on the job horse. Because if you don’t get to the root of your issues, then it’s likely history will repeat itself.

The most important thing is not to shoot yourself in the foot from the word go during interviews. It’s never a good idea to bad mouth anyone from your former job. Even if he was a real jerk. Unfortunately hiring staff are just as likely to question your version of events as they are to take you at your word. Just to be on the safe side, be diplomatic and kind and never mention any interpersonal issues, or try to place the blame on “the other guy”. In the end it only makes you look just as bad, or worse.

While some things will always be left to fate when it comes to our career paths, there are some aspects which are well under our power to control. In order to maximize your potential for employment it’s important to recognize what parts of your self you can work on to become as marketable as possible. If you focus on self-improvement over self-pity you will have taken the first and most important step toward your new future.

About the author:
is a writer for Canadian pardons a site specializing in assisting Canadian citizens in obtaining pardons and record suspensions. She has served on numerous interview panels and has been a team manager for several years.