Imagine that you are at the grocery store and that you need several different items in the packaged goods areas, that is, anything in a carton, can or box. If everything you looked at had a blank front on the package and the only information available was the nutrition labeling, how much time and trouble would it take you to make a decision on what to buy, and how knowledgeable would you be about what the product could do for you? Probably not much.
Of course, food is not packaged that way. The boxes of brownie mix have images of fresh baked brownies that look attractive and delicious. Canned goods often have the words "delicious" and "low fat" or maybe "excellent source of protein." In other words, these packaged goods convey to the consumer the benefits they can expect to receive by purchasing and using the product.
The problem with most resumes today is that they resemble the nutritional label on packaged goods in the grocery store. They are what I call "feature heavy / benefit light." They convey all kinds of information about the candidate, but very few, if any at all, benefits that will accrue to the reader by setting up an interview and/or possibly hiring that person. Most job seekers and most universities use and teach this old, tired model that was effective when we were in a strong seller's market prior to the economic decline that began in 2008. Since that time we have been in a strong buyer's market, and one of the primary tenets of successful marketing is that when your demand conditions change, you must change your promotional strategy that is aimed at those you consider to be your target market.
Organizations today are very selective about the candidates that they choose to interview. They can be this way because in a strong buyer's market there is no shortage of skilled, experienced, educated, and qualified candidates for every position (the nutritional labeling). However, when a hiring manager or a recruiter looks at a resume and sees nothing but the ingredients (name, contact information, education, and employment history), they are seeing a document that looks like everyone else who has the same data on their resume, and the candidate has given the reader no compelling reason to choose him or her over anyone else as someone worth bringing in for an interview. That document is either discarded or goes into a tall pile of paper or an electronic file with very little chance of being chosen as a viable candidate worth a conversation.
If you do not provide some idea of the potential benefits that will accrue to the reader or the organization that the reader represents, you have very little chance of ever being invited in for an interview. In today's market, you get one chance to make a good first impression, so you cannot afford to waste it with a poor resume that does not get you into the competition for the job.
You can avoid this by tossing the resume templates you usually find on the Internet and ignoring the guidance of career counselors who have not adapted their thinking to the buyer's market mentality. The best resume writers today know how to present you in such a way that you not only have the right ingredients, as in the food label example above, but also as a candidate who can bring value and benefits to the organization. That is what will separate you from the crowd and greatly increase your chances of getting the interview that you really want.