Two New Sections for Your Resume

In graduate school, one of my professors explained the difference between plagiarism and research. “Plagiarism,” he told us, “was when you steal from one author. Research is when you steal from more than one!” (It was his attempt at humor, but the point was well taken!)

Not wanting to be accused of plagiarism (which I can’t even spell without Bill Gates), I got the idea for this article reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s excellent book, The Black Swan, available wherever fine books are sold, etc., etc., etc.

I never make guarantees. If you come to me for career counseling, I can’t guarantee that my advice will get you a job. I can only guarantee that I will keep my promises. But, in this case, I absolutely am almost certain (that’s for the lawyers) that I can pretty much (again, the lawyers) guarantee that if you add the following two sections to your resume, it will be read, noticed and may even get you an interview.

As my readers know, I believe that the first section of a resume, literally front and center, should be “Selected Accomplishments” – bullet points highlighting what you have done for other employers. The idea is to make prospective employers, the recipients of your resume, comfortable, at a minimum, to bring you in for an interview. The logic is, they will think, “If she did it for them, she can do it for us,” or “We better bring him in or our competitors will!”

But what if, following “Selected Accomplishments,” you had a new section? A novel section? An unprecedented section? I have been a recruiter for 17 years and this is something I have never seen.

What if you had a section, “Selected Failures?” It would have two or three bullet points of your failures – we have all had them – and, most importantly, highlight what you learned from them. “Tell me about your failures,” in one form or another, is a common interview request. So why not make it a common section on a resume?

So you begin your resume with your accomplishments, continue with your failures, and now comes the second new section. Admit to your ignorance. As with anything else, knowing you have a problem is the first step in solving it. Admitting ignorance is the first step to knowledge. We all know that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. So here’s the second new section, to follow “Selected Failures:”

“What I Want to Learn.” If you are applying for an entry level IT job, let’s say a Help Desk position, maybe you would list, again as bullet points, Cybersecurity. Perhaps a foreign language. Perhaps learning to play a musical instrument. What does it matter? The important thing is that you want to show the prospective employer that you want to better yourself. What’s not to like about that? And, as with “Failures,” I have never seen this on a resume so it is sure to grab someone’s attention.

So after showing the employer the good you have brought to others and that you admit to and learn from your mistakes, tell them how you want to improve yourself. If a resume like that does not resonate with an employer, my guess is that that is not an employer for whom you want to work.

Good luck, and as this post is being published May 25, have a Meaningful Memorial Day.


Bruce Hurwitz, the Amazon international best selling author of The 21st Century Job Search and Immigrating to Israel, is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that! A five-star rated speech writer on Fiverr, he is the host and producer of the live-interview podcast, Bruce Hurwitz Presents: MEET THE EXPERTS