CV of Failures

Public domain. Placed on Wikimedia Commons by Fry1989.

Public domain. Placed on Wikimedia Commons by Fry1989.

We live in a market economy – a market economy in crisis, where jobs are scarce – which means that in our work, just doing our job is not good enough. We have to ‘excel’, ‘stand out’, in short: be the best. Employers are spoilt for choice. In many sectors, a single vacancy will routinely receive a hundred applications.

How can workers make sure they don’t lose their heads in these circumstances? (‘Workers’, that’s most people in this case: everyone who earns a living through working, rather than through winning a million and living off the interest. Even small entrepreneurs have to compete in ruthless market and application processes.)

One worker in the academic sector has just shown how: by demonstrating that no one is perfect – that no one is ‘the best’. Alongside his ordinary CV, economist Johannes Haushofer published his CV of Failures online. (Other academics have done similar things, some of them inspired by this article by Melanie Stefan.)

Have a look. It will

  1. make you feel better about your own failures;
  2. show the marketeers of ‘excellence’ how misguided their concept is: as Haushofer explains, his successes and failures have always been largely a matter of chance rather than a matter of belonging to the best or not;
  3. inspire solidarity: if employees share their failures, corporate employers have less ammunition to play them off against each other (as in ‘look, Haushofer has had a 100% success rate, so why don’t you?’);
  4. make us rethink whether the current system of grant and subsidy applications that governs many sectors of work, is really the most efficient system we can come up with: a lot of productive time is wasted by it.


    Public domain. Placed on Wikimedia Commons by Fry1989.


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