CV of failures

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CV of failures

Post by Maddy » Thu Apr 28, 2016 9:21 pm

Hello all,

I came across this article which I thought fellow ClinPsy applicants would appreciate. A professor from Princeton (along with others) has posted his 'CV of failures' ... o-see.html prompted by this article in Nature: ... j7322-467a

It's difficult not to take failures personally, especially when your peers seem to be so much more successful! (I speak from experience). So it's nice to get a bit of perspective. (If only I could read my lab mates' CVs of failures...). A quote from the Nature article: "So here is my suggestion. Compile an 'alternative' CV of failures ... It will probably be utterly depressing at first sight. But it will remind you of the missing truths, some of the essential parts of what it means to be a scientist — and it might inspire a colleague to shake off a rejection and start again."

Luckily, I think this forum is already particularly good at encouraging applicants to shake off rejections and start again! :D

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Re: CV of failures

Post by SuzC » Fri Apr 29, 2016 9:30 am

I think this is actually a brilliant idea. As a first time applicant, 1 interview but no offers, it has been hard to not take the set back personally. Immidiately my first thought was "I'm not good enough" and then very quickly all my other set back sprung to mind as well, and there have been a number.

I spent a while listing these in my head, and then noted them down - not formally as the article shows, but similarly.

But by writing them down, one thing has come through -that every time I have picked myself back up and carried one. Granted not always immidiately, but I always have.

I'm sure I will feel a little dejected for a few more days - my rejection email was but 2 days ago. But I am already formulating how to make myself a stronger applicant for next year. The article showed me that, even those in aspirational positions didn't get there overnight, and their journey wasn't easy.

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Re: CV of failures

Post by BlueCat » Fri Apr 29, 2016 11:02 am

What a fab idea! I actually wish I'd done this, as there are far too many to remember. I can add my failures:

A level sociology
Driving test (twice)
My two preferred undergraduate degree choices
At least fifty assistant posts
At least twenty research assistant posts
Three doctorate courses
Several 8a posts
Several 8b posts
Most sporting endeavours
There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. Billy Connolly.

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Re: CV of failures

Post by sarahg » Fri Apr 29, 2016 12:05 pm

An awesome idea :)

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Re: CV of failures

Post by Monroe » Fri Apr 29, 2016 3:43 pm

Haha I also love this idea! Just a few that come to mind:

- kicked off A level biology at school and forced to take art instead
- 3 universities at undergrad
- failed stats exam in my first year
- any drama audition ever in my life. The best I ever got was (no lie) 'weasel number 3' in Wind in the Willows
- endless assistant post applications. Literally too many to remember. When I eventually got an AP post I was later casually informed that only two people turned up to interview (one of them being me) and the other candidate was 'completely terrible'
- doctoral interview where I apparently failed to demonstrate any 'people skills' (am now a trainee)

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Re: CV of failures

Post by lingua_franca » Fri Apr 29, 2016 5:36 pm

My academic job application failures: three postgraduate research associate positions (the only three I've applied for), a lectureship, and a junior research fellowship.

My non-academic job application failures (only counting ones I was interviewed for as otherwise my list would be far too long): trainee PWP, trainee mental health advocate, employment adviser for people with learning disabilities, speech and language therapy assistant x 3, family support worker for children with SEN, and school chaplain (sent home on interview day halfway through due to being 'just unappointable' - I can laugh about the wording now but I was upset at the time, as I think the head was wrong to single me out like that in front of all the other candidates. I'm sure of them wondered if I had a dark criminal past that had only just come to light!).

Course application failures: the speech and language therapy MMedSci at Sheffield (which I really wanted!) and then the speech and language therapy BMedSci at Sheffield (which I thought I might have better luck with as it's less competitive than the postgrad).
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

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Re: CV of failures

Post by lingua_franca » Fri Apr 29, 2016 6:01 pm

..and within minutes of posting in this thread I had an email from a journal editor rejecting my paper. Clearly I jinxed myself!
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

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Re: CV of failures

Post by Pixie » Fri Apr 29, 2016 8:03 pm

Brilliant idea.

My edited highlights (as there are too many failures to recall) include:

- Multiple drama auditions
- Netball team trials
- 1st driving test
- A level French (spectacularly so that it's almost an achievement!)
- 3 UG course applications
- Internship at well-known accounting firm (another abysmal performance that left both me and the interviewer cringing at my answers!)
- 1st application to join the Navy Reserves
- Lecturing job at good uni
- Research assistant post on longitudinal study
- 2 clinical psych course rejections (including the uni I went to as an UG and PG student)
- Rejected offer on dream house

Although gutted at the time, I am so glad that each failure motivated me to try harder, persist or follow a different direction that lead to a better than expected outcome. I can honestly say I'm pleased that these failures have brought me to clinical training and not French accountancy!

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Re: CV of failures

Post by kaaatt » Tue May 03, 2016 5:01 pm

ha, this is a wonderful idea, However I think my list would be far too long to post in full. A worrying amount of people tell me they enjoy having me in their lives, as my misfortune makes them feel better about themselves haha. I do my bit to help people feel better about themselves!

I thought I'd expand out from just in my career so far.

- Not making the netball team in year 6
- Failed PE multiple times (I was excellent at forging my parent's signature at school).
- Splitting my trousers on a trampoline on one of the few occasions I did do PE at school
- Failed my Cognitive Psychology module in first year (because I got the times mixed up and turned up 4 hours late).
- Managing to accidentally cause harm to someone in an incident in my first ever job, only to be essentially told by the manager, it's OK we've all done it at some point. They were ultimately fine but it will haunt me forever.
- Surprisingly, also a rejection for my application to work there over the next summer.
- Rejection from an interview at Toys R Us whilst at uni.
- Multiple Psychology related job application failures, and a few RA.
- 2 failed driving tests (although no minors on the third attempt!)
- A rejection for a job application to work somewhere where I was already working full-time as a bank HCA.
- 4.5 years of DClinPsy Rejections (13 full blown rejections, 1 reserve interview rejection, 1 rejection after interview, and one success story)
- accidentally getting a direct train to London after my successful interview, and having to wait on the platform at St Pancras on my own whilst people stared at me until another train came, only to go back on the same line for 50 minutes
- A failed systematic review at MSc level (And hence, terrified about getting my grade back in the next week for my first year ClinPsy lit review!)
- Managing to lock my keys inside my car, in the process causing me to be locked in my house after my ex-partner went to work, and having to get him to leave work to free me from the house.
- Constantly breaking and losing everything without trying.
- Multiple failed attempts at flatpack furniture.
- locking myself in, and getting stuck in bathrooms multiple times as a child.
- Locking myself in, and getting stuck in a bathroom as a 25 year old, at which time they had to get tools to get me out.
- Continuing feud with stairs.

The list really could go on for days!

See, there's hope for anyone trying to get on the Doctorate! ;)

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Re: CV of failures

Post by Volta » Tue May 03, 2016 6:24 pm

Oh I love this!

- A-level Critical Thinking
- Research methods in my undergrad; 4 times! I got 16% for one of them..
- Over 100 AP and other relevant jobs
- I often take the wrong train or bus
- I cannot read directions, including satnavs and map apps
- I mispronounce most words over 6 letters
- I often trip, fall and slip in public places
- I often forget people's names and have developed the very inappropriate habit of calling everyone "babes"
- I once patted the bum of a random guy in the gym thinking it was my friend (he was very kind to me considering I almost assaulted him)
- One of my old managers at a new job asked me if I was permanent, I replied, "no, I just like to eat a lot" - I thought she had asked me if I was pregnant
- Years ago, I was on the tram across a really hot guy and was thinking about how beautiful he was, didn't realise I was thinking out loud until everyone in the tram, including him started laughing
- Once in town, the wind blew my dress over my head and I was wearing disgraceful-keep-in-the-back-of-drawers underwear
- Perhaps my biggest failing of all is that I often forget to lock the door in toilets, including public toilets. The last time, I was in Starbucks and a man walked in with his son whilst I was sat on the loo. When I came out, they had left the cafe; they literally ran at the sight of me in the toilet..

There is no shortage of my daily failings in life.

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Re: CV of failures

Post by LearnLiveDream » Mon May 16, 2016 8:29 pm

I LOVE this! So many though...

- A part in a school play in junior school (haven't held onto that!)
- A science exam in secondary school
- Lower GCSEs than predicted
- Painful Chemistry AS Level Grade (did pass though which was more than my teacher expected)
- First practical driving test
- Walking in heels... ever
- Walking AT all after a few drinks
- Doing the splits... even after drinks
- Fancy hair do's/make up
- Tanning
- Keeping indoor plants alive
- PhD Studentship
- Many assistant psychologist and research assistant posts
- 2015 clinical applications/interviews
- 2/3 2016 clinical doctorate interviews

:D :shock:

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Re: CV of failures

Post by miriam » Tue May 17, 2016 1:19 am

all sports related things at school
2 driving tests
some second year psychology BSc exams
an application for doctoral courses I filled in as an undergrad
numerous grant applications for research funding
an impulsive application to review miscarriages of justice
being founding clinical director of a parenting charity
getting my successful diabetes service commissioned

See my blog at

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Re: CV of failures

Post by eponymous85 » Tue May 17, 2016 9:49 am

I love the professor's last one - 'metafailures: this CV of failures has gained more attention than my entire body of academic work' :lol:
The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure. Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, to be perused by any invader. The mind is a complex and many layered thing.

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Re: CV of failures

Post by eponymous85 » Tue May 17, 2016 9:52 am

the name of that conference has certainly stuck with me (I think it was advertised here for a while). I have to remember/remind myself occasionally that it's not true!
The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure. Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, to be perused by any invader. The mind is a complex and many layered thing.

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Re: CV of failures

Post by hanb3 » Thu May 26, 2016 12:08 pm

Love this idea... let's see how many from my murky past I can remember...

- some rather disappointing GCSE and A Levels
- performance graded as 'U' for unclassified within A Level music
- auditioned and rejected for County Youth Orchestra
- didn't get past 1st round of local Music Centre's soloists competition
- fell up steps onto stage at Royal Albert Hall in front of full concert audience
- didn't make university hockey team (not even the 3rd team!)
- failed my 1st driving test
- transferred course and did not complete teacher training
- made a complete mess of 'coffee chat' (which I realised later was clearly an interview) with potential PhD supervisor
- withdrew from PhD that I attempted to self fund within the first year
- PhD studentship application rejected without an interview from the department I was working in at the time
- sent numerous Assistant Psych applications off without ever getting a reply
- 2 x AP interviews where I came 'a close second'
- didn't get an interview from first DClinPsy application
- locked my housemate in the house and then took both her key and mine on a week residential to the Lake District
- needed help getting off Jack's Rake after becoming 'gripped' by fear of heights half way up
- split my trousers playing the cereal box game with work colleagues on a team building course
- cut off numerous phone calls when working as a receptionist because I couldn't get the hang of transferring them


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