Jayne Blake is a guest writer on my blog; she has written an informative article on how you can turn your career challenges into your greatest career achievements.

Failure is unavoidable. In fact, most people think failure is necessary for us to learn and grow into stronger, smarter beings. When you feel like you have failed, it can be hard to write your resume and cover letter enthusiastically. You may not know how to turn these so-called “failures” into something that it attractive to an employer. The good news is, you can! The key is viewing your struggles or failures as challenges, and choosing to discuss how you overcame them. Here are the four questions you need to ask yourself while writing a resume using your career challenges.

What were your challenges?

Being ignorant and denying you have ever failed will only cause you problems. If you fail and ignore it – you’re missing out on the lesson. If you’re struggling to find “achievements” for your resume, sit down and write out a list of the challenges you have faced and overcome. Identifying the challenges will be a good starting point for deciding which ones you want to include on your application. It could be as small as having difficulty with deadlines or taking time off and having a “gap” in your resume, to something as big as being pulled off a project or even losing your job. It may even be something that you failed at, time and time again, before producing an incredible result!

How did you resolve the problem? Everyone loves a problem solver! Did you find a way to overcome your challenges? Can you be relied upon to stay calm and manage a crisis – in both work and personal life? Are you persistent? Are you a good listener? Do you have creative ideas? Traits like these may help you to become a great problem solver. For example, maybe you had a conflict with an unhappy client, but you remained calm and communicated clearly, leading to a happy resolution.

What were your strengths? The way you managed to solve your problems at work likely demonstrates your strengths. Perhaps you are an expert communicator or skilled at diffusing heated situations. When working in a team, maybe you’re the one who thinks outside the box, or the one who keeps everyone focused. Part of the reason that some people find it difficult to nail “achievements” in their resume is because they are too humble. You need to sell yourself and your skills!

What have you learnt? The lessons are the most important part of the entire process – and they are the most interesting to your interviewer. Why? Because the lessons shape the type of person you are today, and the type of employee you could be at their company. Interviewers will often give you the chance to discuss any challenges, and this is your opportunity to weave in what you have learnt. For example, “As younger people starting coming to work with us, I realised I was going to fall behind if I didn’t up skill and learn how to use some of the new programs. I decided to undertake a short courses on digital marketing and Adobe Photoshop so I could compete if I ever needed to”. This persons challenge was their lack of technology skills, and despite being older and finding it more difficult to learn, they chose to take a proactive approach and tackle the challenge.

Anyone can turn failures or challenges into achievements – it just takes a different perspective to recognise that some of your “worst” moments might just be resume worthy!

Jayne Blake is a Content Coordinator who writes on a variety of topics including Business and Career Development; Jayne is currently working for eFax, a company which offers streamlined faxing solutions.


Annie Cerone