Career Advice

How to Overcome the Odds as a Low-Income Job Seeker

It isn’t usually easy to find a new job. After all, a lot goes into it – creating an amazing resume, writing the perfect cover letter, looking professional during the in-person interview, and so on. The whole process can be highly stressful for anyone – even those who have lots of support and are in a secure financial situation.

But what if you’re looking for a job and don’t have the money to buy a new interview outfit? Or you don’t have a car to drive to the interview? While job hunting is challenging for anyone, it can be especially hard for low-income individuals. There are additional obstacles (on top of all the existing ones) that they must overcome to find and land a new job. Let’s discuss these difficulties in more detail and explore how one can jump those hurdles and get ahead.

Finding a Job as a Low-Income Job Seeker

What Challenges Do Low-Income Job Seekers Face?

As mentioned above, if you’re finding it hard to put food on the table, how exactly are you expected to purchase new business attire for an interview? Suits aren’t cheap! Or how will you get to the interview if you don’t own a car? In reality, there are many financial aspects to job searching that more affluent individuals don’t think twice about but that can certainly diminish another less-affluent person’s odds of scoring the job.

Another downside to being in a lower-income demographic is less access to quality education and training opportunities across the board. This creates an unfair playing field whereby people with less money tend to have less of the skills and knowledge that an employer seeks – simply because they weren’t given the same learning opportunities as others in more affluent areas.

Similarly, their access to the Internet and technology might be more limited than richer folks, making it harder to search and apply for jobs.

Finally, someone with financial means can likely afford to pay for a nanny or babysitter to watch their child(ren) as they go on interviews and even after they secure a job. Lower-income individuals don’t necessarily have this same ability, which can make it nearly impossible for them to attend a job interview, let alone take many types of jobs.


How Can Low-Income Individuals Overcome These Barriers?

While the odds are arguably stacked against those folks who don’t have an enviable financial background, there are clear strategies they can take to achieve their career goals anyway. For example, there are programs out there that donate professional clothing so you can look the part without breaking the bank. Alternatively, you might shop for an interview outfit at thrift stores or low-cost department or discount stores.

Not having your own car can make things very challenging indeed. To combat this, consider public transportation, carpooling, or even riding a bike. Remember, if you can make do in the beginning, once you obtain a higher-paying job, you’ll eventually be able to graduate to a more dependable mode of transportation.

If you feel that a lack of skills is preventing you from getting the job of your dreams, explore alternative options. From taking free/inexpensive online courses to shadowing a mentor to taking advantage of low-cost community programs, there are many ways you can acquire the knowledge you need without spending a fortune.

And don’t shy away from using the public library – there’s a ton you can learn there, in addition to obtaining free access to computers and other technology.

Finally, to tackle the childcare issue (which is a biggie, we know), try to think outside the box. Do you have any family or friends who can watch your child(ren) for free while you attend interviews? Are there any affordable childcare options in your area? Be sure to inquire about potential discounts and scholarships.

Alternatively, you might look into jobs that offer flexibility, and/or you might research relevant government and state programs and subsidies (e.g., Head Start). This isn’t necessarily an easy nut to crack, but keep in mind that you’re definitely not alone (lots of others are facing the same exact problem), and where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Finding a Job as a Low-Income Job Seeker

So there you have it – several ways to tackle the common obstacles that low-income folks can run into while on the job hunt. Nobody will say that it’s going to be easy, but if you’re determined, there’s absolutely no doubt you can make it happen – now get to it!