5 Career and Life Lessons Learned from Failure

Failure Lessons Learned“Failure.”

Such a hard word to say… such a hard thing to admit.

But then, as we all learn at some point, sometimes things just don’t work out the way that you had intended.

I have experienced failure a lot in my personal life and professional career. One of the most trying times for me? When was when I was trying to change careers.

I had finished my Master’s Degree and thought that people would be jumping out of their chairs to hire me. I left a stable, well-paying job to become an HR Generalist. I had no experience in that field, but I was convinced that since I was now degreed, I was qualified.

That’s what we’re told, right? That a degree certifies us employable?

I went on interview after interview and kept getting rejected. I was terrified. My wife was pregnant with our first child… and I could not get a job. The economy was not bad at the time, but I wasn’t willing to settle for another sales job. I had been an outside salesperson for years and was miserable. knew I needed a change. A real change.

Nearly 6 months later, a friend took a chance and hired me as a corporate recruiter. I hadn’t recruited in years, but he gave me an opportunity. I was relieved. I have never looked back. I am no longer fearful of being unemployed. I have found my career passion. It turns out I was never meant to be an HR Generalist.

I am a recruiter. That is my calling.

Without failure, I would not be the man I am today. I have learned from my experiences and have become a better person, stronger Christian, and a better parent because of what I did NOT achieve.

Here are 5 career (and life) lessons that I learned in those months of unemployment and what you too can learn from failure.

1. Failure Taught Me What I WASN’T Meant to Do

I learned a lot about myself when I failed. I realized that some things I am good at doing, some things I am great at doing, and others I am not so great at doing. I am a much better recruiter than I would have ever been as a Human Resources Generalist. Sometimes when I have heard “No” it ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me.

2. Failure Taught Me Resiliency

You aren’t going to succeed at everything you do the first time. You have to practice. You have to perfect your art. Do you remember going on your first interview? Do you remember how horrified you were? I learned that some things are out of my control. You have to get up, dust yourself off, and go at it again. Failure gives you patience.

3. Failure Taught Me I Am Not The Only One

When interviewing, I thought I was the only one on the planet interviewing. How wrong I was. There are others that are in the exact scenario that I was in. I am not the first one to fail, and I certainly won’t be the last.

4. Failure Gave Me a Different Perspective on Life

You know, I often got down on myself when I have failed. Who doesn’t? Right? Then, I took a step back and realized how blessed I am. You should do the same. Even when things seem to be spiraling out of control, things just aren’t that bad. I would do something to take my mind off what I DIDN’T accomplish and spend time with the family, go for a walk or simply take a big breath.

5. Failure Taught Me Areas I Needed to Improve

I realized that I was getting interviews, but not getting second round interviews. I realized my interviewing skills needed to be better. I realized the areas where people were concerned about my background. I spent time with people who had used applicant-tracking systems since I had never used one before. I took failure as a positive and improved in my weakest areas.

Failure isn’t easy. But the lessons we learn… well, sometimes that makes failure worth it.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at BullsEye Recruiting!


Bullseye Recruiting


Will ThomsonAbout the Author: Will Thomson is the global sales recruiter for Rosetta Stone and the Founder of Bulls Eye Recruiting, a globally recognized blog that discusses recruiting trends, job search advice, and social media.  He is an Austinite who has 20 years in recruiting and sales experience. Will was recognized in 2015 as one the Top 100 Most Influential  People in HR & Recruiting on Twitter.  He is a keynote speaker who speaks around the nation about recruiting and would love to talk at your next event. reach Will on LinkedIn and Twitter! He’s eager to hear from you. 



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