A Princeton professor has published an eye-opening ‘CV of failures’

Photo: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images.

A Princeton University academic has published a revealing “CV of failures” as a poignant reminder that most of our mistakes are often left buried under the carpet.

Johannes Haushofer, assistant professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, posted his new “publication” on Twitter last week to show that “the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days”.

It has since garnered a huge response on social media with some calling his list of failures “impressive” while others have praised him saying it shows the “power of persistence”.

The idea first came from Melanie Stefan, a lecturer in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, via the journal Nature in 2010.

She suggested compiling an “alternative” CV of failures saying that although it would be “utterly depressing at first sight”, it would “remind you of the missing truths” and even inspire others to pick themselves up again following a rejection.

Haushofer took this on board and published his long list of failures online which included degree programs he did not get into, award and scholarship rejections, paper rejections from academic journals and even research funding he missed out on.

He said:

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 list of rejections includes those from the PhD Program in Psychology at Harvard University, MIT Brain & Cognitive Sciences Assistant Professorship, Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professorship and Swiss Network for International Studies PhD Award.

There’s now a meta-failure to top it all off: “This darn CV of Failures has received way more attention than my entire body of academic work.”

Here’s his “CV of failures” in full.