101 Handy Excuses for Job Hunters, Career Changers,
and Consultants. Salespeople, too.

by William S. Frank, President/CEO of CareerLab®
Pencil Writing Excuses
I've spent more than 35,000 hours as a consultant in one-on-one career counseling sessions. Most sessions are fun, exciting, and productive. But, like any counselor, I've had clients who sink in quicksand, and don't want to get out. These are the whiners, negative thinkers, tantrum-throwers, and excuse-makers. They see the glass as half empty, they "yes, but" every suggestion, and they believe Paul Harvey's humorous dictum, "There's no sense worrying, nothing's going to turn out alright."

I listened to die-hard pessimists for ten years until I got sick and tired of hearing why things couldn't be done. I listed the excuses on paper to clear my mind, writing as fast as I could, barely keeping up with my racing thoughts.

Years of whining and complaining poured out onto the page—my hand cramped—and this entertaining list is the result. It comes from all levels of the working world, from the blue collar laborer on the loading dock to the residents of the C-suite (the executives), and everything in between. It applies equally to job hunters, career changers, and consultants. Salespeople, too.

  As you'll see below, money—or lack of it—is a common theme in the excuse manufacturing business. Time, or lack of same, is another common raw material in cooking up handy, believable excuses. It's fun to blame time, because it can't fight back. Time and Money are two big factors in excuse-making. No surprises there.

Here's the famous list, below. It's not complete, by any means, but it's a good start toward stagnation, procrastination, irresponsibility, and all-out failure. Take it for what it's worth, pass it around, and add any handy excuses I've missed.

  1. I'm too old (or, too young) to find work.
  2. I don't have enough money.
  3. I don't speak enough English/Spanish/Russian/Navajo for them to hire me.
  4. I fail at everything I try. Why bother?
  5. I don't have a car/smartphone/laptop/iPad/computer/alarm clock.
  6. I'm too shy.
  7. I don't know where to start.
  8. I don't have a degree (or, the proper education).
  9. It's impossible. I've tried before.
  10. No one would want me (or, my skills).
  11. It's too late in the day (or, the season, or the year, or in my life) to find a job now.
  12. It would take too much effort.
  13. I don't have the time.
  14. I'm engaged to be married; once I'm married my problems will all be solved.
  15. I'm not strong enough.
  16. It might ruin my health.
  17. I can't take rejection.
  18. I'm registered with a temp service (or, employment agency, or union, or major employer) and they haven't called me yet.
  19. I've applied already, and they turned me down.
  20. There's too much competition for jobs.
  21. I don't know how to look for work.
  22. There's no point in starting a job search.
  23. I'd lose my shirt. I'd lose my kids' medicaid, and what happens if they get sick and need to see a doctor.
  24. I don't have any work clothes (or, I don't have any good clothes, or steel-toed shoes, or dress shoes, or a hard hat, or necktie).
  25. I don't have any family here (or, where the jobs are located).
  26. The economy is terrible here (or, the housing situation is terrible here, or where the jobs are located).
  27. I already sold all my tools.
  28. I'm pregnant (or, trying to get pregnant).
  29. It would spoil my vacation.
  30. The timing isn't right.
  31. I'm waiting until the kids get out of school (or, back in school, or until they graduate from school).
  32. I can't sell.
  33. They don't offer enough benefits.
  34. I need more of a challenge (or, it's too much of a challenge).
  35. I'm not a morning person.
  36. I worked and paid taxes for two (or, five or ten) years, and it's high time for me to relax and get the benefit of what I've paid in.
  37. This is the wrong time of my life.
  38. It would mean starting over.
  39. I might fail.
  40. I don't have the energy.
  41. I don't drive on the freeway/at night/in that neighborhood/ in ice and snow on narrow roads/out of my part of town.
  42. I don't have any auto insurance.
  43. I'm not into the eight-to-five scene.
  44. I'm barely making it now, and I can't afford to waste time and gasoline searching for a job all over town.
  45. I'm too fat (or, thin).
  46. I'm a rock musician (or, poet, or writer, or painter). I haven't got any gigs yet, but I have to be free when they call.
  47. A new necktie (or, magazine subscription, or briefcase, or mailings) would cost too much.
  48. I'm not feeling well.
  49. I'm planning to go back to school some time in the future, so I can't work.
  50. I don't want to think about my problems right now.
  51. The weather is too hot (or, too cold).
  52. It doesn't pay to work in this town.
  53. There's nothing within walking distance of my house.
  54. It won't work.
  55. Anybody could do that job; I want something challenging.
  56. It's too much of a challenge.
  57. I don't want them to make me cut my hair, or tie it up.
  58. My husband wouldn't let me. My wife wouldn't let me.
  59. Public transportation doesn't run that early/that late/that far/that reliably.
  60. I can't find any free day care.
  61. I can't stand the smell of plastic (or, bus exhaust, or flowers, or machine oil, or food, or people).
  62. This town's too small (or, too big) to find a job.
  63. There's no jobs out there. (sic)
  64. If I work around food, I'll start eating, and there will be no stopping me.
  65. The boss will start talking some trash, and I'll lose my temper and get fired again, so why bother?
  66. I just arrived in town, and you want me to start looking for a job already?
  67. I just got married/got divorced/broke up with my lover.
  68. They're not hiring.
  69. I'm a woman (or, I'm a man, I'm an Anglo, I'm a minority . . . etc.)
  70. It's raining (or, sleeting, snowing, blowing) outside.
  71. I can't stand (or, sit, or walk, or lay down) for long periods of time. And I don't like talking on the phone, using computers, or meeting people or cats . . . , etc., etc., etc.
  72. I'm not in the mood.
  73. I had surgery last year.
  74. I have a headache/backache/neckache.
  75. The tires on my car are bald.
  76. I'm not strong enough.
  77. I'm not gonna drive sixteen miles, morning and evening, through freeway traffic, for a lousy $15.15/hour (or, $16.50/hour, or $32.50/hour, or $150,000/year).
  78. I'm worth more than they could afford to pay me.
  79. It's been tried before.
  80. They say I'm overqualified.
  81. I've got 12 weeks of unemployment benefits left, and if I don't use them I lose them.
  82. It would be too hard to start.
  83. I'm not about to lower myself to take the kinds of jobs they're offering.
  84. I couldn't do it alone.
  85. They always want a drug test, and I'm not going to give them the satisfaction.
  86. All they have are dead-end jobs, with no hope for quick advancement to upper management.
  87. My kids are never going to get dumped into day care if I have anything to say about it.
  88. I've got a "thing" about traveling on public buses.
  89. If I work, my ex will garnish my wages for child support, and I'll just have to quit and start over again.
  90. I don't work at any job that isn't fun. When it stops being fun, I leave.
  91. I don't use public restrooms.
  92. It would take too long.
  93. I don't look for work outside my field.
  94. I'm not a risk taker. It's too risky.
  95. It can't be done.
  96. It's summer vacation! (or, the Holidays, or Spring Break, or the championship playoff season.)
  97. It's too damn far.
  98. If they don't like the way I dress, screw 'em.
  99. It's not practical. I've got to be realistic.
  100. I don't want to drive two hours for a one-hour meeting.
  101. Nothing would come of it.

    :: Return to index of articles.


Home : Search CareerLab : Contact Us : Birkman® Method : Cover Letters : PhysicianCareerNetwork
+1/303/790-0505 : Copyright 1996- William S. Frank : All Rights Reserved : Web Design by DATA