Why You Should Consider Making A 'Failure Resume'

Sure, keeping a list of all of your successes is important—that’s what your resume is for. But what about your failures?

Growing up, we are all pushed to achieve, achieve, achieve; however, no one warns you about the failures you might endure while achieving your goals. The journey is never without struggles. The failed tests, the lost games, the unfinished projects. While they may not seem important, they are all a part of making you who you are. We all remember the first time we failed a big test or did poorly on a project—it felt like the end of the world. But we’re all still here, and our failures did not kill us. If anything, our failures made us work harder and strive to be greater next time. Even the most meticulous planning can’t prevent failure. 

This is a call to action: start a Google Doc right now and start listing some things you may have failed at. Making a failure resume can be just as important as making a regular resume. List anything and everything you can think of. It can range from little things, like failed Pinterest recipes, to big things, like when you got rejected from your dream internship. Make the failure resume a document that you can always go back and add to. Do not be afraid to share it with others. We all have struggles.

By knowing what caused you to fail, you are more likely to do better the next time. 

Writing your failures down also allows you to let them go. That one-page rule for resumes? Forget about it. Make your failure resume as long as you want.

Making a failure resume allows you to recognize failure as an essential part of your experience.

It also humanizes your experience. Sometimes we create unnecessarily high expectations for ourselves and what we can do. No one is a superhuman. We can’t all manage jobs, school and social lives perfectly. Failure is inevitable. 

No one has experienced success without also experiencing failure. Take Oprah Winfrey, for example. In her Harvard Commencement speech, she talked about how when she launched the Oprah Winfrey Network, “every media outlet had proclaimed that my new venture was a flop. Not just a flop, but a big bold flop they call it.” Oprah is viewed as one of the most successful women in the world, and even she experienced failure along her journey. Oprah continues in her speech to say, “if you’re constantly pushing yourself higher, higher, the law of averages—not to mention the Myth of Icarus—predicts that you will at some point fall.”

A failure resume is a good reminder that we should not immediately give up when we hit bumps in the road. Perseverance is a skill that is only perfected through practice, so making a failure resume is a good reflection.