Stop Shuckin’ and Jivin’: How Some of Us Are Letting Excuses Hinder Career Success

So the job market is tough. What are you going to do about it?

Businessman jumping over hurdles in stadium

(Image: Thinkstock)

I was recently thinking about more ideas for Career content, which is part of what I handle here at BlackEnterprise.com, and I became frustrated. With all the resources available to the public on how to gain employment and make themselves more marketable to find job seeking success, the fact still remains that black unemployment stands at more than 16%.


I thought to myself, “Lord, what more can I do to provide resources for people who are unemployed? How can I be of help in this national epidemic?

I know there are a plethora of factors that contribute to the current unemployment problem in this country. I also know that I can’t save the world.

But the one thing I can say is this: Though there are valid reasons many are out of work, some people are riding on the excuse train — young people in particular — crying about not being to get a job but doing nothing exceptional about it.

They’re using the same methods they used before the recession and expecting different results.

Some of us have heard the usual excuses:

The [White man/racism/sexism/classism] is holding me back.

The government needs to help me. Obama isn’t doing enough.

I’m too old to get back in the game.

It’s too expensive to invest in services that will maximize my job seeking success.

I’ve sent out so many resumes and got no call backs. I give up.

They want experience for the position, but nobody will hire me, so I can’t get the experience needed to be marketable.

True, it can be frustrating and challenging to be unemployed. I’ve experienced unemployment myself, and let’s just say it wasn’t the best time of my life. I was forced to put pride and anger to the side, take a job making less than the one I previously held, and strategically make moves that would position me for the job I ultimately wanted.

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  • Carlos M. Parker

    It bothers me that I’m trying, and I still get questions about my circumstances. Here’s a little background. I have a B.A. in Language and International Trade; I can speak Spanish. I have earned 18 hours towards a M.B.A. I’m from a small town, so most of the jobs are not great paying, professional, salaried jobs.

    Right now, I’m not able to move because I’m making just enough, if that, to cover bills. People tell me to use my network. I don’t mind moving, but why move to a new city if the job market is tough everywhere? Trust me, I’ve been ready to move. I always get questions about why am I living in this town? Or why are you not working overseas? Or why don’t you work for the government/ have you tried the government? Honestly, sometimes I feel like drafting a contract and keeping it with me at all times. It would read that “I (insert your name) will allow Carlos M. Parker to reside with me for a year without paying rent and utilities, while he looks for employment.”

    Sure I’ll move. But will you provide a living space for me? If I don’t find employment in your city, what’s going to happen? To answer the government question, yes. I have applied to government jobs, but their hiring process is long, and multi-faceted. One cannot apply for the government and expect to hear from them a month later. What’s a little frustrating is the online application process for all jobs, not just the government, but I’m use to it though. Sometimes one is able to call to check on the process, and other times one cannot make a phone call. For example, some confirmation e-mails read “do not reply.” Or, the companies, agencies, and institutions do not accept calls. I haven’t applied to every company that exists, but the companies where it’s easy to check on the process by calling are in the retail industry. So…my venting is over. I KNOW that I’m not living in the best location, but I really do try.

    • Ashley Vaughn

      Hey Carlos,

      Let me first commend you for achieving as much as you did. Don’t let the current hiccups hinder you from continuing to persevere. Just a few suggestions. Continue to work on that M.B.A at all cost. That will definitely increase your competitiveness over your peers. Also, I don’t know how old you are but have you considered military service? Going reserve or national guard should be considered. Working in the Defense and Aerospace sector, I’ve noticed that it will definitely help you stand out.

      The biggest suggestion for you would be to benchmark the market. What is in high demand? Health Care? Technology? Finance? Whatever is in high demand, find something that will interest you. Then, find out what is the best way to get the training and experience. While continuing to network, you will see the many doors open. Just make sure you know an opportunity when you see it. Too many people pass them by.

      Just my suggestions. I hope something I mentioned helps.

      Ashley V.

      P.S. I went to college with someone with your name. Good luck with your search.

    • Linda

      Maybe you should leave your small town WITHOUT FEAR … there are always options! I moved from a small town in North Carolina to Philadelphia (and didn’t know anyone). Sell yourself … believe in yourself and make others believe in you! In this era, those letters behind your name won’t sell you to a company like your own words and character!

    • Carlos, I commend you for telling your story openly and, I assume, honestly.
      In your whole comment, I see nothing about what you expect out of life or your passion. I see a lot of issues and reasons, but where is the passionate action?

      You say, “I haven’t applied to every company that exists, but the companies where it’s easy to check on the process by calling are in the retail industry.”

      The word that stuck out for me is “easy.” And that was the whole point of my blog: That yes, it is hard. It’s never going to be easy. And I don’t believe it has ever been easy for minorities in the job market since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

      Carlos, I’d say first, tap into your passion. What do you expect to offer the world that is something you were given a talent to exhibit? Maybe this is something you could do on the side to generate residual income. You say you’re making “just enough to cover the bills.” Have you checked out our resources on money management and budgeting? I think they would be of great help to you to alleviate stress and help you focus more on finding your passion and maximizing on it in the job market.

      Check out: http://dev.blackenterprise.com/2010/08/25/budgeting-insider-5-ways-to-trim-your-budget/


      You say you are questioned about your circumstances. But the true, and most important question is: Are YOU happy where you are? And if not, are you purposefully and passionately pursuing what will ultimately make you happy?

      At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.

      Thanks again for reading, and please let me know if I can send any other helpful resources your way.

  • Vernetta F.

    I am currently underemployed. It does suck not having the same pay and benefits I did 6 months ago but I am using this time to start a new business venture. I know only better from me will come of this. I pray for all those who are currently going through this as well. It is tough. Bills don’t stop coming but we muust press on. Now is the time for people to really get creative and make things better for themselves.

    • Ashley Vaughn

      Hey Vernetta,

      I couldn’t agree more. The only person who is going to make it better in tough times is themselves. Hopefully people will get the message.


    • Linda

      I absolutely love your way of thinking and I’ve done the same thing with my life! We have to be creative and MAKE things happen for us!

      • Thanks ladies. I sooo agree. We all have to continue living out our dreams, by any means necessary. I feel, if our ancestors did it, so can we. Thanks fo reading ladies, and keep the feedback coming.

  • abvaughn2@gmail.com

    Hey Janell,

    First, I love your work. Thanks for this article. I really hope it is read by many and shared with as many who need to hear this message.

    If you get a chance, provide your business e-mail address so we could give direct feedback.



    • Hi Ashley. OMG, your responses to these readers are phenomenal. I will email you directly. Thanks so much for reading and being a supporter 🙂

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  • Kimberly


    Though I’m currently working part time, I’m still having a difficult time searching for work in my field. I’ve posted my resume in several different job sites, including the state job site. I stay on top of it daily, checking in to see if there are new job postings that I can apply for. I haven’t limited myself to searching online, I’ve been in touch with staffing agencies, I’ve been with at least three or four within the past two years, but nothing has really popped for me. It’s getting frustrating because I don’t know what else to do. I’ve had help improving my resume and cover letter, post my resume daily on the job sites and I sought help from staffing agencies, I’ve been getting nothing but dead ends. It feels like I’m not doing enough, but regardless of how frustrating my job hunt can be, I haven’t given up, I know that there’s something out there for me, so I just keep going. What can I do to improve my job search?

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  • I’m so glad everyone enjoyed reading this and thank your for your comments. Please, if you have any career questions, would like to share your story, or would like job-seeking issues address, please send an email to careerquestions@blackenterprise.com. Best of luck to all of you who are looking for career opportunities. We, at BlackEnterprise.com, will strive to bring you more resources — as well as encouragement — in your career advancement journey.

  • Shevonica M. Howell


    Thank you so much for this article. As you can see, I am about two weeks late reading it, but it came at the right time.

    First, I would like to tell each of the other readers that responded to the article that although, you all are going through with finding a job, you are definitely not alone.

    I am a 37 year old single-mother, mentor, motivational speaker, and author of an inspirational/motivational book titled: Girl, they Ain’t ready! I am PROUD to tell you that I lost my full-time job in February of this year after my book was published because my boss felt that I was doing too much!

    No one could have told me that publishing a book that I know has enough testimony to make anyone feel a whole lot better about themselves would allow me to lose a job that I adored so much (TEACHING).

    Anyway, to make a long story short, I relocated August 22, 2011 to Tacoma, WA from Jackonville, FL to earn my Ed.D in Educational Leadership. Although, I had already applied for and received a part-time position a month before being let go from my full-time job, the pay was not allowing me to pay even a third of my many expenses.

    My last day as a part-time Business Management and Business Math Instructor at Heritage Institute was August 19, 2011, and before leaving that position I taught students how preparing a business plan could be worthwhile in the long run should they experience losing a job.

    My ultimate goal has always been to open my own private school, and I am confident that my doctorate and the business plan that I created not only as a guide for my students, will help me be a successful, private school owner within the next three to five years.

    Carlos, Kimberly, and Vernetta, please know that God does everything in time and as long as you believe in him and continue to push forward you will be just fine.

    Janell, OUTSTANDING ARTICLE ma’am! Keep them coming :*)

    • Thanks so much Ms. Howell. I’m glad you enjoyed. I’m happy you were able to find purposeful alternatives to unemployment and found your niche. Please continue to check out the site for resources on entrepreneurship, motivational speaking and self-publishing.


    Great article. We would only add that it might be time to get our inner entrepreneur on. This past Thursday, University of Michigan Economics Professor Mark J. Perry published a chart showing the recent new record high in GDP…compared to a loss of 6.6 million jobs over the same period. Growth in Employment and GDP have historically tracked very closely…however, the continued explosion in productivity is finally coming home to roost. While data interpretations may vary, one thing seems incontrovertible… The U.S. economy has lost a lot of jobs at a time when output has risen to historic levels…and the bad news is, the lost jobs are not coming back. The sooner we accept this and prepare ourselves to succeed in the new economy, the better off we will be. And for the record, when we say entrepreneur, we mean providing value for a fee, even within the context of a Full Time employment position. Like as not, salaried positions are going away faster than we care to admit. Like most things, that can be viewed as a challenge or as an opportunity… if you only want a salaried position, that news may not make you happy. However, if you are happy to extract a premium using your skill set for more than one company at a time in more of a consultant capacity, this change in circumstances might be a boon for you. Either way, the faster you get out in front of this change in reality, the better off you will be.


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