Canadian Resumes: Turning Your Failures Into a Winning Resume

By Simeon Wong

We chatted again with our resident resume expert Simeon Wong of Elevate.Strategy  about some tips and tricks for resume building. 

Today he’s taken us through the concept of using failure as a guide to creating your resume. He’s done a compelling TedxTalk on the subject as well. In the TedTalk speech he talks about taking a situation of failure as an opportunity to embrace what skills you do possess and ultimately discern what you are good at and how past failures can highlight your growth.

Simeon suggests that weaknesses in our career are a part of our personal journeys and that one of the biggest obstacles his clients face is working in fields that are unfulfilling to them. For immigrants coming to Canada looking for work, he suggests taking this opportunity as a chance to reinvent yourself in your career, starting with past instances of failure.

According to Simeon, reflecting on what ways you can make your career align with something fulfilling to you starts with identifying your failures. What may have been the reasons for this failure? What skills did you fall short on that led to this failure? From here, we can focus on the skills we do possess and can then lay down a framework to find a career that more aligns with these skills and that is ultimately more fulfilling.

“Usually what you’re good at is also what you’re passionate about,” says Simeon.

Simeon urges new-comers to Canada not to come in with the expectation that they need to secure a job that requires knowledge of many roles and use of many different skills, a common aspect of work-life in South Africa. Canada instead is much more of a skill-based economy where employers tend to hire those who specialize in one particular area. This gives immigrants an opportunity to assess and evaluate their work history and skillsets, allowing them to pinpoint what areas they are most passionate about.

It’s important not to waste time applying to jobs that might not be relevant to these skillsets that you’ve decided on pursuing. Be specific about your resume and your job search, ensuring they focus on these skills.

A helpful way of utilizing your failures as a positive in your resume is looking at them as challenges that you were able to overcome. Describing a task you had and how you provided a positive outcome looks good on a resume. However, completing this task in spite of a challenge or roadblock you encountered looks even better, and also displays your problem-solving skills. Showing a recruiter that not only can you acknowledge your challenges or failures, but also that you learned from them and generated a positive outcome can be really impactful on your job search as it highlights your skills in leadership and humility.

Simeon proposes that inner motivation and what your passionate about should align with your resume as well as your LinkedIn persona. He says that highlighting challenges and admitting overcome failures depicts one’s persona as having that underdog story. Showing this growth and vulnerability has the capability to positively differentiate you from another candidate that might have even more work experience than you do.

It’s important to recognize that our failures are never something to be ashamed of, and instead can be representative of our resilience and growth. In this case, these challenges are used to tell the story of our career journey, how much we’ve learned along the way, and what value we can bring as a result.


Did these points raise even more questions? Let’s help you get more answers – reach out to us to chat!

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