Why You Should Write a Failure Resume

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Did you know that in order to write a good resume you first need to create a failure resume? This is good practice. Read this article to find out why.

Your resume doesn't just help you find a job. It also helps you to contemplate your failures. This is what Tina Seelig first referred to as the “failure resume” in 2009 when she was giving advice to her students on Twitter. But what exactly is a failure resume? Is this something that you send out to employers?

See Also: Why Updating Your Resume is Good


The answer to that last question is no. According to Seelig, a failure resume is a resume that summarises all your biggest screw-ups - any personal, professional and academic failures and it’s not something that you show to employers. The advice she gave to her students, was to keep it for their own use. Seelig said that for every failure, each student needed to describe what he or she had learned from the experience. Keelig wanted to help students view their experiences through the lens of failure. To understand the mistakes they had made and recognize the lessons they should learn.

This is good practice as it helps you recognise your mistakes and so you don't repeat them. But, the main reason for creating a failure resume is to show that you have taken steps to improve either personally or professionally and managed to overcome huge barriers along the way.

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David and Tom Kelley explain it better: “To find success, first write your failure resume.” In their article on Fast Company, they talk about how failure can be a great teacher not only regarding self-development but also when you are looking for a job. More specifically, they support the idea that first you have to figure out what went wrong so that you can do better next time. As they say, “if you don’t, you’re liable to repeat your errors in the future.”

By thinking about what went wrong, you are forced to also think about what good came out of it. In this way, you are required to recognise your biggest successes and admit to yourself that you must have done something great to be able to be where you are today. As soon as you become more aware of what went wrong, you will realise that those past challenges or failures won’t can't hold you back anymore.

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Writing about your failures first instead of achievements, helps you go back and think about what you did and how you managed to improve the situation. Since it’s often harder to remember what you did right – and instead think about your weaknesses and failures, it might be easier for you to create an effective resume for employers to see after you  have written your draft in the form of a “failure resume.”

See Also: 4 Steps to Overcome Your Fear of Failure

If you want to write an excellent resume that will stand out, you first need to write a failure resume that talks about your biggest defeats, losses and screw ups. According to Keelig, recognising your failures will allow you to recognise your achievements and convince employers you are fit for any position.

Would you create a failure resume? Let me know in the comments section below...