The Worst Phrases to Hear When Applying for Jobs

I graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University a year ago in April 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts Honours Journalism with a minor in Contemporary Studies and have been applying for jobs ever since. As a 22 year old university graduate, I had hoped to find something in my field. My university education taught me the appropriate skills for my career as a journalist and even allowed for opportunities to have work published in various news outlets, including the local paper, The Brantford Expositor.

However, since graduating, I have yet to find a job, in any field, for two main reasons. This leads me to the two worst phrases to hear when applying for jobs: “you’re overqualified” and “you need more experience”.

You’re Overqualified

This phrase is a bunch of bull. I’ve found that I hear this phrase when I apply for any job that is not in the field in which I hold a university degree.

Starting in February of 2013, I applied to as many part time (and full time) retail or other jobs outside of my field as I could. I knew that in today’s times, most students don’t get a job in their field right out of university, so I had hoped to land a decent part time job. This would allow me to start paying back my debt and keep looking for a job that in my field.

Unfortunately, the most common feedback I keep getting (when a company is nice enough to at even let you know you didn’t get the job), is “you’re overqualified”.

Overqualified. Seriously, what does that even mean? How can being overqualified for a job be a hindrance? Wouldn’t that make me a better worker? So what if I have a university degree. That doesn’t mean I can’t do a job that isn’t in my field.

Until I can find something in my field, I need to start making some money so I can hopefully start paying off my debt. Regardless, this seems like a major cop-out for companies nowadays, who don’t want to lose workers when they eventually go on to bigger and better things. So, if you hear this phrase after applying for a job, don’t worry, it’s not just you.

You Need More Experience

This phrase is perhaps even more frustrating than “you’re overqualified”. As well as applying to part time jobs, I’ve been applying for jobs in my field since I graduated last year.

In high school, I co-oped at the local newspaper (the Ajax Pickering News Advertiser) for five months. I conducted interviews over the phone and in person, and then was able to write my own articles, which were then published in the paper. I helped create page layouts for certain sections, performed basic clerical work, attended events, and was a valued part of the news team.

After high school, I attended university where I perfected my skills and had work published in the Brantford Expositor, as well as the school’s paper, The Sputnik. I took every type of writing and publishing class that my school offered, as well as all the law classes that were necessary for journalism students (to make sure we don’t accidentally break any laws when interviewing subjects).

However, when it a job calls for experience, none of this counts. Every journalism job I have applied for calls for 1-3 years of experience working in the field. If my experiences at university don’t count, and every job calls for experience, how am I supposed to ever find a job?

I cannot receive work experience until somebody will hire me, but nobody will hire me until I have work experience. Do you see what I’m getting at? It’s a never-ending cycle.

The only way to get credible experience nowadays is to complete an unpaid internship. As a recent university graduate, I have massive student debt that I need to start paying back. How can I afford to take on an unpaid internship when I’m already in debt? Not to mention, that there aren’t really any internships near where I live, so I would have to pay to take public transportation downtown, only to make no money.

Essentially, I would be spending money instead of making any, putting me further in debt. This is one of the options I have struggled with. Is it worth putting myself more financially at risk, to hopefully get some experience which will allow me to find a job in my field later on?


As you can see, finding a job nowadays can be incredibly difficult, but I will never stop trying. I have to find something eventually, right? Here’s to the hope that I’ll find a job, pay off my student debt, and eventually move out of my parent’s house! One can dream.

One thought on “The Worst Phrases to Hear When Applying for Jobs

  1. I’ve found (here in the UK) that employers are reluctant to state openly that you’re overqualified – they’ll come up with some other reason for turning you down. But they will be happy to tell you that you don’t have the required experience. They’re offering more and more internships, which is a bit of a cheek as these roles would once have been filled by people being paid a fair wage for their time and effort. Good luck to you, anyway.. .

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