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career research blog

The latest career research insights to grow your career

Filtering by Tag: graduates

Failure can enhance career success

Andreas Hirschi

There are a numerous anecdotal examples of how a failure can lead the way to longer term career success. As illustrated in a nice infograph on, this list of people includes illustrious names such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Michael Jordan.

In a scientific study with US graduates, researchers found that those who experienced an unexpected positive career event that helped to achieve their career goals (e.g., got an unexpected promotion) were less likely to attend graduate school. On the other hand, those who experienced a negative career event  (e.g., did not get an expected promotion) were more likely to return to university to get an advanced degree. Although that study did not investigate this, maybe the early disappointment will be the foundation for success in the future that the more "lucky" colleagues will be missing.

Seibert, S. E., Kraimer, M. L., Holtom, B. C., & Pierotti, A. J. (2013). Even the best laid plans sometimes go askew: Career self-management processes, career shocks, and the decision to pursue graduate education. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(1), 169-182.