Ditch the Excuses!

3 min read
Excuse #1 – I’m Underqualified

Do you know how many of my clients are currently making six figure salaries without a 4-year degree? Or how many have landed “Master’s Degree Preferred” positions with only a bachelor’s degree? Look around… there are plenty of people out there with great jobs that didn’t have a dream list of qualifications.

Excuse #2 – I’m Overqualified

I have clients with advanced degrees or impressive histories state that they are getting the “overqualified” excuse as they are being turned down for positions. After a bit of probing, I often uncover other reasons that they are being rejected. The overqualified label is regularly used to politely reject candidates with other issues.

Excuse #3 – I’m Too old or Not Old Enough

In any given week, I’ll have a 55-year old client claiming she is too old to land the best jobs, and in the same week, a 30-year old complaining that the older generation gets all the best jobs because of their experience. Age is a factor, but don’t let it be your excuse.

Excuse #4 – My City / Town is Too Small or Too Big

My career coaching business is located in New Orleans, with a metro population of 1.2 million. I sometimes hear that “New Orleans doesn’t have enough jobs,” and other excuses. After a little coaching, my clients land great jobs. Those who move to DC, NYC, LA, SF, etc. quickly learn that there is a trade-off… larger job markets mean stiffer competition.

Excuse #5 – I Am the Wrong “Type” of Person

Believe it or not, there are white, male, 40-something clients who cite that their careers are not progressing because they are not minorities who they say “get all the breaks.” Sometimes, women and minorities let labels hold them back, saying that a certain employer would definitely prefer to hire someone else for a specific position. While discrimination can and does exist, never assume a door is closed until you knock… loudly! Opportunities to succeed are available.

Excuse #6 – The Economy Is Bad

This one crops up totally independent of actual employment figures. Back in 2008, when our economy suffered its greatest setback in generations, there were steep challenges, but many of my clients still found great positions, despite the conditions. Currently, the nation’s unemployment rate is 4.4%, the lowest it’s been in a decade. Signs are now pointing to an increasingly favorable job market for jobseekers.

Excuse #7 – I’m Not Attractive Enough

Yes, when we coach clients, we find some who believe their appearance or weight is keeping them from attaining career success. While there are some studies showing that height or attractiveness can affect hiring, the overall effects are minimal and the studies are far from conclusive. Simply look around, people of all types can and do succeed.

So…. What Should You Do?

As with all other endeavors in life, try not to worry about those things that you can’t control – for example, the economy, your ethnicity, or your age. Within the bounds of what is possible, yes, change the things that you can – take a few classes, improve your health and appearance, check out a local career coach with a good reputation, and arm yourself with the latest “best practices” in career search to maximize your results.

Grant Cooper won the national Career Directors International President’s Award at the CDI Conference in Orlando, FL.

Grant Cooper, president of Strategic Resumes & Career Coaching, has appeared as a career expert on CBS, ABC & FOX, has published more than 300 media and journal articles, teaches seminars at major industry conferences, and annually serves as a panelist judge for national resume writing competitions.

Grant has assisted the U.S. Air Force, Kinko’s, the State of Louisiana Dept. of Labor, the City of New Orleans, the NFL, the NBA, as well as universities, regional banks, medical centers, celebrities, nonprofits, and corporations. Grant’s clients have landed positions at top Fortune 100 firms. Email Grant at

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