Though resumes are typically opportunities to show off the very best of your life accomplishments, a Princeton professor made it a point to put together a CV of his life failures for all to see.
While an individual’s successes are highlighted and shared with the world, the failures they encounter along the way are often invisible to others. Professor Johannes Haushofer wrote in the intro of his “CV of Failures” that he hopes to provide some insight and balance the record by sharing the trials and rejections he had to go through to get to where he is now.
Haushofer, an assistant professor of psychology and public affairs, wrote:
“Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible. I have noticed that this sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me. As a result, they are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves, rather than the fact that the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days.”
He moves on to list details under the categories “Degree programs I did not get into,” “Academic positions and fellowships I did not get,” “Awards and scholarships I did not get,” “Paper rejections from academic journals,” “Research funding I did not get,” and “Meta-failures.” In his Meta-Failures, Haushofer wrote:
“This darn CV of Failures has received way more attention than my entire body of academic work.”
He credits the idea to an article piece written by Melanie I. Stefan, a lecturer at the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. She argued that keeping a visible record of your rejections can help others cope with their own setbacks. Stefan wrote:
“My CV does not reflect the bulk of my academic efforts — it does not mention the exams I failed, my unsuccessful PhD or fellowship applications, or the papers never accepted for publication. At conferences, I talk about the one project that worked, not about the many that failed.”
Haushofer also notes that he isn’t the first professional to share his CV of failures. However, he hopes that in sharing one more it will help change people’s perceptions of failure and success.