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Write a Failure Resume

Today someone told me about Tina Seeling who is a Stanford professor and author of What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20. In this book, she introduces the idea of a “failure resume” which I found to be so fascinating. As she mentions in the video, you always hear that companies want to hire people with experience. Experience means failure. Ask any CEO and they will tell you that they learned way more from mistakes and failure than they did from their successes. 

I love this idea of taking a different approach of looking at your resume. Take a moment now to look at your resume and where you see your successes listed, write out your failures for that position. Instead of “Grew company profit by 12 percent,” think about the time when you, “lost $20k in company profit due to product failing testing protocol.” Or maybe when you, “organized workshop and had very low turnout.” This is where you get the most learning and where you grow not only as an employee but as a person. They make up the fabric of who you are. 

This also helps you in interview situations where they ask you to tell them about a time where you had a challenge that didn’t go well and what you learned from it. There is a reason that is a standard interview question. Embrace your failures, they meant that you took a risk. And if you don’t have many failures to speak of, you’ve been too safe!