Just about everybody has had the experience of creating a resume. But yours may be stopping you from getting that interview you desire.

Case in point: I was recently helping a friend update his resume as he was planning to apply for a high level new job. When I first took a look at the document he had created, it took me a while to digest everything: his resume ran for more than three pages. My friend was a seasoned and experienced guy and he had made it a point to create a bullet point for every position and major project he had tackled over the course of his entire career.

A lot of people approach creating their resume in a similar way--treating it like a catalog of everything you have done since graduation from high school.

But this is a mistake. You're missing the real purpose of the resume.

The ultimate purpose of a resume is to communicate the basics of your skills in a way that convinces the person reading it that you are someone they want to talk to. In other words, the goal of the resume is to get you an interview.

A side note is that your resume plays an important part in a sequence that hopefully ultimately lands you a job. That process usually begins by submitting a cover letter along with your resume. The letter purpose is to encourage someone to read your resume. Your resume's job is then to get you to the interview. The interview is then your opportunity to land the job.  Each of these documents and events build to an offer.

Since your goal is to stand out enough for someone to want to talk to you, treating your resume as a detailed catalog is the wrong approach. It's easy to see why resumes have evolved along these lines. Just think about your school transcript, which cover every grade you ever had, or even a European style CV--or curriculum vitae--which can be translated from Latin roughly as "the course of your life." The temptation is to list out everything you have ever possibly done.

While such a catalog of where you've been and when can be valuable as you look back on your career, it's less valuable to someone trying to decide to interview you or not. What they'd rather see is a more concise summary of the kinds of results you've achieved in your positions--like how you've increased revenue and profits, cut costs, opened new markets, and grown the business. If you can show through your experiences that you can do all that, who wouldn't want to talk to you?

For example, imagine two resumes: one that states in very generalized language that you supervised 150 people and delivered on your client's needs. The other states that you increased revenue by 40%; profit by 30%; and customer satisfaction by 15% by leading a cross-functional team of 150 people. Who would you want to interview?

Not only will this kind of approach help you dramatically shorten your resume--you'll also be much more focused on what someone who might hire you really wants to know. That will also help you stand out among the hundreds or even thousands of other resumes someone might be trying to weed through that all look the same--except yours.

Another aspect of your resume you should be thinking about it is how you tie the results from your career to the professional objective you might list at the top of the page. Your goal should be to paint a clear picture about how your past experiences build you up to deliver on that objective. In the case of my friend, he was looking for a job as the COO of a large international company. So he made it clear when he shared his experience to demonstrate how at each level of his career, he was building the skills needed to perform that role, such as: global diplomatic experience, roles in running large-scale operations, and the ability to lead a large number of people and every position in the resume started with the results he delivered.

In the case of my friend, he was able to prune his accomplishments down to about 2  pages while tying them all back to his objective. And because he highlighted the big wins he had brought about in his career unlike the people he was competing against, he landed the interview for the dream job he was seeking.

When you can draw that clear line that shows that your experiences and your objectives are aligned, people will want to talk to you and, ultimately, make you an offer because people hire for results.

Published on: Dec 26, 2018