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Standing Out by Embracing Your Business Failings? Absolutely.

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

Picture of a CV / Resume
Failure Resume

It is always something to admire when people own their mistakes or missed attempts or utter flops. In the manufacturing industry, I find it outstanding. Why? Because when we embrace what went wrong and incorporate that into our ongoing business strategy, we can celebrate when things go right.

This got me thinking about the courage to do it, to own your failings. Not too long ago, I was helping a friend with her resume. She works in logistics for a company and is responsible for managing suppliers and redistributing material to over 200 customers around the country.

While going through her resume, we talked about inserting quantitative values of previous accomplishments she had been a part of. She made note that over the last two years, the COVID impacts directly affected her ability to achieve her targets. Orders were down, disruptions in supply chains and all kinds of payment/credit issues impacted her ability to achieve her targets.

I brought up a story I once read. An executive talked of receiving a resume that showed the candidate's failures quantitatively. It immediately got her to ask the question of why you would put failures on your resume – isn’t it there to highlight your accomplishments? Probably thinking, this should be interesting because it seemed completely illogical.

The candidate indicated how they leveraged the lessons learned from the failures and bridged them into later accomplishments. This not only set the candidate apart, but it also demonstrated how she could embrace growth, even through failure – an attribute any leader would hope to have in a team member. Not brave enough to put them on your resume? Start your own private failure resume.

Still not convinced? Read this story about a Princeton professor’s CV of Failure. Or this. Or this.

And then yesterday, while on FaceTime with my sister, an accomplished HR professional in her own right, my daughter brought up that she wanted to apply for a writing position, but was worried some of her earlier, 14-yr-old work wouldn’t impress the organization. My sister wisely suggested she embrace it when applying and talk about how she’s grown since then in talent, courageous leadership, and maturity. That was the best advice she could have been given.

The bottom line? Embracing your failures is brave, and can often pay off. Oh and, and the executive noted that they hired the person on the spot.


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