Princeton Professor's Resume Lists Only Failures

Brutally honest CV is 'attempt to balance the record,' says Johannes Haushofer
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2016 8:44 AM CDT
Updated May 1, 2016 12:27 PM CDT
Princeton Professor's Resume Lists Only Failures
Failure is a thing to be acknowledged, not hidden, Haushofer says.   (Princeton)

The point of a CV—or resume, in more American parlance—is to highlight all of your finest awards and accomplishments, right? Johannes Haushofer takes a different approach: Although the Princeton psychology professor has a standard resume he sends out, he's also compiled something a bit more unusual, per Quartz: a "CV of Failures." "Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible," he writes at the top of his documentation of defeats, which he tells the Washington Post he started compiling in 2011 as a show of support for a friend having some bad luck professionally. The intro to the CV notes that when people see others' string of successes, "they are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves," while in truth, "the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days."

Categories on his resume include "Degree programs I did not get into" and "Paper rejections from academic journals," and there's scientific precedent for such documents: Melanie Stefan published a 2010 article in the journal Nature in which she says people who always see the "constant, streamlined series of triumphs" of others can end up feeling "alone and dejected." She advises everyone to keep an alternative CV of failures to "remind you of the missing truths," and Haushofter says the idea for his CV came from her "wonderful article." Haushofer says his own list of failures may be shorter than it should be because some crash-and-burns may have slipped his mind. But thanks to the media spotlight, it's now one item longer: Listed for 2016 under "Meta-Failures," the prof writes, "This darn CV of Failures has received way more attention than my entire body of academic work." (Avoid some common resume mistakes.)

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