5 Reasons Why Every Entrepreneur Needs a Rejection Resume A special document enables all professionals to embrace their trials and tribulations.

By Eli Joseph

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We all can agree that a traditional resume summarizes one's career. A resume highlights the positive skills and attributes that a professional has accumulated throughout his/her career. We are constantly promoting our acknowledgments, but we rarely spend time addressing the lessons that we have learned from our failures. This leads to the question of the day:

What is a rejection resume?

A rejection resume is a document that presents someone's failures over time. A rejection resume breaks down some of the institutions that may have waitlisted or rejected a prospective student who had hopes of enrolling into an elite business school. This document also highlights some of the selected organizations that rejected an entrepreneur's pitch for grants and funding.

Related: She Was Told 'No' 100 Times. Now This 31-Year-Old Female Founder Runs a $1 Billion Business.

Nonetheless, a rejection resume is meant to draw inspiration from a person's misfortune, while giving them the additional skills needed to respond to adversity on his or her path towards greatness.

There are several reasons why it is important to have a rejection resume:

Rent is due everyday

When we are pursuing our goals, we understand that every day must matter. We have no time to sit on the sidelines and wait for life to work out for us. We must work at getting what we need. We also know that there will be days where we will get knocked down. However, we use our losses as learning experiences, gaining the momentum and power to act in ways that help ensure that we are paying the rent every day.

Related: You Tried and You Failed. Here's How to Rebound.

Learn how to blame ourselves

Our rejection resume serves as a reminder that there are things that we can't control. It is not our fault that some things didn't go our way. Nevertheless, we must hold ourselves accountable. When we succeed, who gets the credit? We will most likely credit ourselves, our investors, sponsors and the friends/family members that have contributed to our success. Conversely, who gets the blame when we fail? We must blame ourselves in order to jump-start our path to success.

Related: Why Entrepreneurs Should Aim to Fail -- That's Right. They Should Actively Seek It.

Learn how to bend the rules

After taking so many losses, we accumulate so many tips and tricks that allow us to bend the rules and become the exception to certain policies. For example, the application process for a job, a grant or a fellowship can be expedited based on who has the tools to bend these application stipulations. Since rules are made by people, every rule has some sort of exception. Through networking, we can find ways to connect with people who influence rules. We can also utilize some lessons that we soaked from our mentors and like-minded individuals to become the exception to certain rules instead of following them all the time.

Related: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work

Learn to swallow our pride

A traditional resume epitomizes the awards and accomplishments that we are proud of. A rejection resume epitomizes the failures that expose our false sense of pride. Pay attention to our reaction when we receive an acceptance letter or a congratulatory note compared to the moment when we receive a rejection letter or a regret note. It's important to cast our pride aside so we can get real with ourselves when cultivating our goals. Pride is one of the seven deadly sins for a reason. Instead, we should use our rejection resume to embrace shame and the humbling characteristics that come with it.

Related: 6 Lessons I Wish I'd Known Before My Business Failed

Developing a track record of experiences

Our failure from the past defines who we are today. At first, we may feel embarrassed to express our negative experiences from our personal and professional endeavors. But if we develop a habit of expressing our failures, we will lose that fear of failing publicly and privately. Our track records will make us fearless and strong. Our track record of failure will also provide lessons to others in ways that we could never imagine.

As we continue to develop our rejection resume, we must realize that we are not losing anything by being rejected. We are just getting rid of the ever-growing mistakes that we encounter on our road to success.

Wavy Line
Eli Joseph

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Business Partner and Medical Examiner at Quest Diagnostics

Dr. Eli Joseph is an author, educator and public speaker who serves as a faculty member at Columbia University, New York University and UCLA. Joseph is also a partner at ExamOne, a Quest Diagnostics company. He is the author of the book entitled The Perfect Rejection Resume.

Editor's Pick

A Leader's Most Powerful Tool Is Executive Capital. Here's What It Is — and How to Earn It.
One Man's Casual Side Hustle Became an International Phenomenon — And It's on Track to See $15 Million in Revenue This Year
3 Reasons to Keep Posting on LinkedIn, Even If Nobody Is Engaging With You
Why a Strong Chief Financial Officer Is Crucial for Your Franchise — and What to Look for When Hiring One

Related Topics


5 Questions to Ask a PR Pro Before Hiring Them

You probably haven't considered asking these questions, but they're a great way to find the right PR firm for your business.

Business News

The Virgin Islands Want to Serve Elon Musk a Subpoena, But They Can't Find Him

Government officials would like to talk to Tesla's owner as part of an investigation into the Jeffrey Epstein case.


This Location-Based Marketing Technique Is the Key to Boosting Retail Sales

Let's take an in-depth look at geofencing marketing and how it's helping retail locations drive foot traffic and boost sales.

Growing a Business

The Inevitable Challenges You'll Face as Your Business Grows — and How to Handle Them

There's going to be some discomfort as your business expands, but it doesn't have to stop you from achieving massive success.

Growing a Business

My Startup Scored a Multimillion-Dollar Contract With a Fortune 100 Client in Just 3 Years. Here's What We Learned.

There's no perfect litmus test to gauge if you're ready to go after big business or not — but if you don't take the risk, you'll never realize the reward.


How to Use Pop-Up Advertisements on Your Website Without Annoying Users

Pop-ups are potent tools for web conversions. Here's how to use them without driving your users away.