A CV of Failures

Ours is a world that follows a strange convention: It forces us to change ourselves according to its needs, and in case we don’t follow, it outcasts us, even when what we do may become a convention itself in the future. Finding a job is the accepted convention for the world, the procedure for which is well defined and quite accurately available for our perusal through various resources: Present yourself as a person who can add value to the company you wanted to be hired by, in a way that helps the company understand that you are fit for them. The best presentation is a list of your achievements, which is more commonly called a resume/CV.

CVs are kind of make-or-break documents as far as the hiring process is concerned, if you have a bad CV, or an ordinary CV, or may one that doesn’t have the right achievements to show for, you would be thrown out of the whole procedure at the first stage itself. There won’t be any second chances unless you fit the requirement, or specifically, their requirement. Those guys in the HR department of your sought-after company have a set of parameters for a quantitative measurement of your talent, and your CV is the best description of your talent they could possibly get.

Talent is a highly subjective topic to talk about, because it isn’t based on your passing or failing a particular exam, or succeeding or failing in a particular project, or your ability or inability to get admitted to a university/scholarship. Talent is attitude. It’s your attitude towards your interest no matter how much you suck at it. It’s your attitude towards doing something; whether you put in as much effort as possible without thinking about the final result of the process. It’s your attitude towards your environment; whether you are affected by it to the extent that you are unable to survive and follow your heart’s desire, or you are not affected at all, no matter how harsh the situation may be.

So when we discuss talent for hiring someone to a company, why is it that we think about achievement as the direct indicator of the amount of talent one possesses? Failure is, and should be, an equally important contributor for this entity!

Every experience in life, whether good or bad, is bound to provide us with invaluable lessons for the future. the more number of experiences we have, the better the understanding of those lessons. So who cares whether a specific experience didn’t go so well and turned out to be a failure instead of a glorious success? What we should, and in turn the companies should care about is the amount of knowledge one could extract from all the events he/she was a part of, and whether he/she was smart enough to gain as much as possible so as to grow on an individual level.

Johannes Haushofer, an assistant professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University recently posted a document highlighting his career’s lows. Popularly being called a CV of failures, this resume-of-sorts focuses on degree programs the professor wasn’t able to get into, his papers that got rejected, the scholarships and awards he did not get, and the like. Following is the first paragraph from the CV:

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. This CV of Failures is an attempt to balance the record and provide some perspective.

The Professor, through this paragraph, attempts to make us aware of the fact that we sometimes we fail not because of our own faults, but because of faults of the world and it’s components. But failure is mostly taken by us as our own shortcoming, and eventually, the same mindset has been inculcated in the minds of those currently hiring us or may hire us in the future.

If we could actually have a document that could explain what we have gained rather than what we have achieved in our life, and if those hiring committees are considerate enough to interpret this document in a sane and unbiased manner, we could be looking at the end of a convention that has been followed by many since a resume for jobs came into existence. But for that, being an outcast is the burden we’ll have to bear for while, before we see this radical change being implemented wholly and with an open mind.

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