A fundamental rule of writing a resume rests on the unspoken prescript of omitting anything that didn’t go as planned or actually didn’t worked out. This principle is doubly valid and relevant with regard to preparing an academic CV. Each academic CV is a festive celebration and highlighted list of personal victories and achievements!
Well, is our professional path really brimful only of successes? Or whether sometimes and somewhere there were some failures and downfalls? Yes, absolutely! There is simply no trace of them in CV.
A Princeton Assistant Professor of psychology and public affairs Johannes Haushofer has decided to show that our “invisible” failures and setbacks are important parts of a winding way to a successful professional career. For this purpose, Haushofers has compiled a list of failures during his own academic career and posted online his CV of Failures.
The document organized under sections: “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”, and “Research funding I did not get”. There are a lot of “did nots” here — like all of us always have.
“Most of what I try fails”, Haushofers honestly writes in the introduction to his resume, “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.”
Without exaggeration, I find this daring act of Prof. Haushofers inspiring and encouraging, especially for junior scholars. In fact, this reminded me an amazing story of rejection Mark Granovetter’s seminal paper. The lesson of both is similar: pull yourself together, get over, grind away and keep up! Rejections and failures are an inseparable part on the course to self-realization.
See also: “Ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write?” // Probably the best “Acknowledgments” ever // Albert Einstein on the power of ideas and imagination in science // The Art of Writing // Overly honest reference: “Should we cite the crappy Gabor paper here?”