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Write A Failure Resume To Really Learn About Yourself

By Gerald Walsh ©

If you are like everyone else, your resume shows off your best side—your qualifications, skills, successes, and accomplishments.

And that’s quite understandable. You want others to get a favorable impression of you and conclude you are the right person for the job.

But what about your failures? Haven’t they played a significant role to getting you to where you are now?

If you are like most people, you keep them hidden because they are usually a source of shame and embarrassment.

Yet your failures are often an abundant source of learning and growth. This is where real change can happen.

But change will happen only if you are honest with yourself and willing to take steps to avoid the same situation happening in the future.

So why not try writing a failure resume?

(No worries—I’m not going to suggest you send it to employers. It’s for your personal use only.)

Make a copy of your regular resume and go through it, section by section, listing those things that didn’t work out the way you had hoped, or things that did not have a favourable result.

Under Education, perhaps you:

- Applied but did not get into the school you wanted.

- Failed a course that prevented you from making the Dean’s list.

- Bombed a class presentation because you didn’t prepare properly.

Under Work Experience, perhaps you:

- Got fired once because you didn’t manage the relationship with your boss well.

- Lost a big sale because you didn’t return your telephone calls on a timely basis.

- Missed out on a great job opportunity because you blew the interview.

No doubt, focusing on your failures will initially make you feel bad. But instead of spending time on how you feel, take a step back and analyze what went wrong.

Did you read a situation incorrectly? Did you not prepare fully? Were you avoiding conflict? Were you too arrogant?

Then ask yourself: “If I had the chance to do things over again, what would I do differently?”

The learning lies in your answers.

Most likely, you have experienced more success than failure in your life.

But don’t rest on your successes. Seek to understand your failures—and why they happened. You’ll be presented with a great opportunity to grow and advance your career.

* * * * *

A final note: “Tell us your greatest failure and what you learned from that failure” is a common interview question. So, be prepared. Saying you’ve had no failures will not be received well. Everyone has failed at one time or another.

To share your thoughts on this blog post, please write me at walsh@geraldwalsh.com


Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career. You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh