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My Shadow Resume: the Jobs I Didn't Get

Everyone gets rejected...and that's ok.


You try to put your best foot forward in the the job search. You share about the jobs you've had in the past, you highlight your accomplishments, and you focus on your strengths. This is exactly what you should be doing...in interviews, networking conversations, on your LinkedIn profile, and in your resume and cover letter. You should focus on how great you are, because you are great!


But you are also human. You fail. You have weaknesses. You don't always get the jobs you want. That's ok! It's not just you. Nobody kicks butt all the time. Nobody. If it looks like they're non-stop rocking it (That incredible resume! That amazing new job they just got!) I guarantee that they just aren't putting their failures out in the world for you to see. As a result, you don't put your failures out in the world for them to see either. Then everyone struggles along hiding their failures and thinking everyone else is so much more successful than they are.


Ugggh. I don't like it. Hiding all of our failures isn't really helping anyone, is it?


The Shadow Resume

A number of years ago I stumbled across this article, Me & My Shadow CV by Professor Devoney Looser in the Chronicle of Higher Education. In it, she tries to prepare her students for the wave of rejections they'll most likely face by sharing the highs and lows of her professional life. She lays out the many rejections accompanying or preceding her great successes. I love that she did this. I love the message it sends, and I love that her students left their degree prepared to work hard and fail and yes, also to succeed. They learned that rejections will happen. They are a part of the process. They keep us moving forward toward something better.


In the spirit of Professor Looser sharing her failures with her students and the world, I've created my own version of a shadow resume for you to see. I'll be honest, I feel a bit nervous putting it out there. I mean, do I really want people to know all this? What if people say, "A career coach shouldn't have failed to get so many jobs. Maybe she actually doesn't know what she's doing." Welp, think what you will I guess. I feel like being brave. Here goes...


My Shadow Resume (the jobs I didn't get)

*This list starts post-grad school. I'm sure it would be twice as long if I included post-college jobs.


2009 Community Organizer, ACLU Philadelphia

2009 Director of Community Engagement, Adler School of Professional Psychology

2009 Marketing Internship Coordinator, Australian Embassy

2009 Career Counselor, Carlos Rosario Public Charter School

2009 Program Director for the Latino Studies Program, Goshen College

2009 International Student Advisor, Indiana University

2009 Assistant Coordinator for the Civic Education Project

2009 Program Officer for the Visitor Exchange Program, World Learning

2009 Associate Director at the Kernodle Center for Service-Learning, Elon University

2009 Program Associate for Global UGRAD, East Asia & the Pacific, World Learning

2009 Assistant Director of Education, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

2009 Program Associate, Summer Search

2009 Roving sales, Sweetriot Chocolate Company

2009 International Student Advisor, Montclair State University

2009 Senior Coordinator of Youth Activities, Rotary International

2009 Co-Leader for LearnServe Fellows Program, LearnServe International

2009 Summer Program Instructor for the National Peace Essay Contest

2009 Coordinator for Community Service-Learning Immersion Experiences, University of Maryland

2011 Director of Global Studies, Watkinson School

2011 Spanish Teacher, Four Rivers Charter School (interviewed)

2011 Assistant Director of Global Education, Hampshire College (interviewed)

2011 Assistant Director for Multicultural and International Student Services, Hampshire College

2011 Assistant Director of Civic Engagement for Community Programs, Western New England University

2012 Career Development Counselor, Holyoke Community College

2012 Assistant Regional Director of New England, Church World Service (interviewed)

2012 Director of International Experiential Learning at Mount Holyoke College

2012 College and Career Navigator, Greenfield Community College

2012 Public Service Internship Coordinator, Amherst College (interviewed)

2012 Coordinator of International Programs and Latino Academic Success, Elms College (interview)

2012 College & Career Navigator, Springfield Technical Community College

2015 Academic Counseling Coordinator, Carnegie Mellon University (interviewed)

2015 Program Coordinator at PULSE (interviewed)

2015 Senior Academic Program Advisor for the Information Systems undergraduate program, Carnegie Mellon University

2015 Immigrant & Refugee Program Supervisor, Jewish Family & Children’s Service (interviewed)

2015 Program Coordinator for Student Academic Support Services office, La Roche College

2015 Program Manager at the University Center for International Studies, University of Pittsburgh

2015 International Internships Coordinator in the College of Business Administration, University of Pittsburgh (interviewed)

2015 Executive Assistant to the Dean, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy

2015 Program Manager, World Affairs Council (interviewed)


What I learned from creating my shadow resume

The experience of creating this shadow resume was actually really positive. I smiled a surprising amount, considering that I was listing out the jobs I failed to get! Here's what I learned through the process:


I wasn't always applying for my dream job

Some of the positions I applied for surprised me. They don't align with what I wanted at that time. There is usually a bit of desperation in the job search, and I definitely wasn't immune to that. There were moments when I started doubting whether I could actually get something I'd like and started applying for some random stuff. Example: Sales for Sweetriot Chocolates in 2009. What?!


I had forgotten about a lot of the positions

I completely forgot about a handful of jobs that seemed great in the moment. Being the Director of International Experiential Learning at Mount Holyoke College sounds awesome! But I don't remember applying for it. If you told me that I applied for the position of Senior Academic Program Advisor for the Information Systems undergraduate program at Carnegie Mellon University, I would've called you liar. But then, there it was: a full-on, completed job application in my archives proving me wrong.


I always ended up in a job that was better (for me) than the positions I failed to get

The jobs I did get were such great experiences, and I wouldn't trade them for any of the those on my shadow resume. Sure, there were a few rejections that hurt more than others, but in hindsight I can see why they wouldn't have been the perfect job I thought they were at the time. Knowing what I know now about myself, I can also identify a few jobs that I think I would have hated. So I'm grateful for the experiences I have had. They led me where I am right now, loving my work as a career coach!


Creating your shadow resume

The experience of creating my shadow resume taught me a lot about what motivated me at certain points in my career and made me so grateful for the jobs I've had. It was also pretty darn entertaining! I recommend trying it yourself at some point. You might even feel like sharing it with others! Just think - it might help us all to start accepting rejection as a natural, necessary part of the job search.


I would love to hear how the idea of a shadow resume lands on you. Share with me and others in the comments below or send me an email at coach@lauralitwiller.com.






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