What is a failure resume and should you have one?
The following is a response to a question I received on Quora regarding a failure resume.
What is a failure resume and is it a good idea to have one?
A failure resume is one that lists all of a person’s failures with high emphasis on “lessons learned” from failures. It is supposed to highlight the candidate’s ability to overcome obstacles while being “interesting.” I don’t recommend anyone to submit one to a company unless it matches the company culture from a creative standpoint. The risk is too high.
The key to a great resume is to emphasize “What’s in it for the company.” While there’s something to be said about a failure resume; transparency, honesty, and humility, how would the company benefit and accomplish their goals? The candidate may have learned their lesson, but what action caused them to actually accomplish a goal? What is the action besides learning a lesson? A company wants to know what a candidate can do and has done, not what the candidate has proven they can’t and didn’t accomplish.
I think it can be a good idea to have a private failure resume with lessons learned to help the candidate realize the good that can come from the experience and help him/her be able to talk to those failures during an interview, but I definitely don’t recommend submitting one to get hired.