Looking for a Job? Try Showcasing Your Failures.

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One copywriter’s interesting approach to getting a call back.

One of the hardest things to do is write your cover letter and resumé. It’s something that you learn in school, but when you sit in front of your blank computer screen staring at the flashing cursor, your mind also goes blank. How can you demonstrate that you’re a creative, hard-working team player? What will catch your potential employer’s attention? What do you do to get an advertising agency to take the next step and call you in for an interview?

The Regular Resumé (including inflated accomplishments) vs. The Relevant Resumé (which is brutally honest)

Jeff Scardino, a Miami Ad School New York teacher and former senior creative at Ogilvy, wondered the same thing so he conducted a resumé experiment. He created two very different resumés to see which version agencies would respond to better. His regular resumé showcased his career successes. His relevant resumé detailed his failures, bad habits, missed honors and bad references.

Here are some of the entries from Jeff’s relevant resumé:

(2012 – present)
Ogilvy & Mather, Senior Creative

  • Worked on three losing pitches.
  • Failed to produce anything worthwhile in my first year here.
  • Didn’t sell a few game-changing ideas to UPS or American Express.

(2004 – 2008)
Ohio University, Bachelor Degree in Journalism

  • Dated a free-spirited girl who ruined my junior year.
  • Wish I spent more time with friends instead of taking twenty credit hours each quarter my senior year.


  • Take my work home with me, which gets me in trouble with the wifey.
  • Have difficulty remembering names.
  • Don’t take the best notes in meetings but look like I do because I’m drawing.
  • Could be more punctual.
  • Need to put more effort into less exciting briefs.

Results:  One of Jeff’s resumés got eight responses and five interview requests. The other got a big fat nothing.

Jeff’s experiment was also featured by Business Insider.
Watch the video of Jeff’s resumé experiment. It might give you ideas on how to make your own self promotion more effective.

Interested in a career that will always have you coming up with crazy ideas?
Check out the different careers in advertising.

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