A roadblock is something that blocks progress or prevents accomplishment of an objective, according to Merriam-Webster. With regards to our career, roadblocks are things that keep us from new opportunities, advancement, raises and bonuses, new jobs and recognition. These obstacles keep us from getting the rewards we seek. They can be internal or external. Some we can see. Some we don’t.

One year ago we began to take a look at the roadblocks many of us face in reaching our career goals. We conducted a survey on-line, asking individuals what they felt were their greatest obstacles to achieving the level of success they desire. This survey was repeated again this year to assess any changes in these perceptions by business professionals. The top 3 results of the two surveys are shown below.

Establishing Goals
Improving Skills

The Economy

The obstacles identified last year indicated that most respondents felt limited by their own abilities, or lack of them. It wasn’t that they didn’t have opportunities. They were just unable to take advantage of them by limitations they put on themselves.

This last survey doesn’t totally conflict with the previous results since respondents still identify themselves as a potential barrier to their own career success. Some respondents felt that we are all still in control and have the power to impact our future. Maybe they are right. Reaching our goals may require a little creativity and development of different paths.

Not too surprisingly, the results for 2009 also imply that the perceptions of the current economic conditions are impacting how we see our future. With all of the mergers and acquisitions, workforce reductions and Chapter 11 filings, the opportunities are being reduced. Competition will become a greater force that will require unique methods of differentiation. How do we differentiate ourselves? The top result may hold the key.

Lastly, networking was identified as an obstacle to success. Why? Could it be that there is so much competition for opportunities now that the system is breaking down? Consider a job opening that has 2000 applicants. Obviously, not everyone can get a fair consideration. Companies just can handle that many applicants. If they can’t use the system they have established, alternate methods will be used, even if unintentionally. Respondents seemed to rest their hopes with other individuals in companies as opposed to the corporate systems put in place to fill new opportunities.

These results aren’t intended to be the definitive answer to what’s happening in our environment. However, it does point out a few things we should consider in planning our career. First, planning will need to be done. The path is not always clear. You may need to take different routes to get there. Second, it’s all up to you. That just doesn’t seem to change much, year after year. Lastly, we should consider the power of influence from those outside of our normal circles.

Author's Bio: 

Todd Rhoad, MSEE, MBA is Director at BT Consulting, a career consulting firm in Altanta. He is also the author of Blitz The Ladder and can be reached at todd.rhoad@blitzteamconsulting.com.