By Ben Butler

We’ve all heard the excuses in college for why someone didn’t have something done when it was due.

Something that continues to shock me, however, is that people are still using these excuses in the workplace. Here’s the bottom line though: hiding behind college-grade excuses in the workplace stunts your growth as a professional and gives you a reputation for being a liar.

Here are four college excuses that don’t fly in the workplace:

1. “I Was Having Computer Problems.”

The scenario: a project/task is due, and when it comes time to turn it it, it’s not available because computer problems of some sort just happened to occur.

If you think you’re fooling your supervisor with this one then you’re in for a grim surprise.  Your professor might humor you in college, and subtract a few points, but your boss most likely will not. In the workplace deadlines are everything. People and projects rely on them.

It’s better to tell the truth (you dropped the ball) or to proactively ask for more time. Your supervisor or team might be a bit frustrated, but at least they won’t begin to distrust you. Of course, the best thing to do is to avoid this by getting things done on time.

2. “I Wasn’t Exactly Sure What to Do.”

The scenario: You’ve been given a project/task. You move it forward, and turn it in on time, but it quite spectacularly misses the mark. You chalk it up to not exactly understanding the scope.

Although this might truly be the case, it should not be a reality. If you are uncertain of the parameters at all, it is your responsibility to ask until you have a clear picture.

3. “I Couldn’t Find ______.”

The scenario: you’ve been given an assignment requiring a resource. When it comes time to present your findings or your work, you blame the incompleteness on not being able to find the resource(s) required. In school, this might’ve been that passage in a text book or a link. In the workplace, it’s that file, that contact information or reference to a guideline.

Resourcefulness should be an expectation you hold yourself to. If you can’t find an aforementioned resource, ask your team or your client again for it. If you need to seek out reference material for your project, do whatever it takes to procure it.

4. “My Printer Was Broken.”

The scenario: you’re in the spotlight to make a presentation. You show up without any reference materials to hand out, although your boss specifically asked for them. You claim you were having printer issues.

I heard this excuse more than any others while I was in college. In the workplace, I still hear it.

Using this is a sin that should be avoided at all costs, especially since most workplaces have an abundance of printers handy. Don’t procrastinate on completing the task at hand or giving yourself enough time to print it.

What college excuses do you continue to hear in the workplace?

Ben Butler headshot Ben Butler, APR, is the founder and client services director for Top Hat—an award-winning marketing communications firm in Pittsburgh. In his past life he served as a public relations guy for a motorsports complex, director of inbound partnerships for an inbound marketing agency and head of communications for a software startup. He’s been named a Top Under 40 Communicator and is Accredited in Public Relations (APR)—a distinction held by less than 20-percent of all practitioners.