Crafting a Streamlined Resume When Everything Seems Relevant

Ira writes:
I have been asked to create a brief resume for a friend who has
an extensive career history.
He has a professional background that is varied and I feel that
everything he has done is very relative to the situation he is applying for.
I feel the resume needs to combine both functional and chronological
aspects of his career and expertise; however the same problem arises –
it ALL seems relevant.
How should I target/focus this resume? What could be deemed
unnecessary if anything? How can I condense a 20-year-work history
and list of achievements into 1-2 pages?

The Career Doctor responds:
The No. 1 rule of resume writing is focus. You must have a focus
when you write a resume. A resume is not a work summary; it is
however a marketing document that clearly shows why a job-seeker
is the perfect candidate for the job.
If your friend truly has a varied work experience you could categorize
those experiences within the resume — but why not just do a standard
chronological resume? (A side note for inexperienced job-seekers:
everything goes in reverse chronological order with the most recent
information first.)
Also the rule-of-thumb is that you do not want to spotlight work experience
that is more than 15 years old partly because you do not want to
emphasize information about age and partly because technologies
in most fields have changed greatly in the last 20 years.
As for page length you can certainly go to two pages for someone who
has that much experience.
As you are writing the resume remember to focus on quantifiable
Other key resume rules: make it perfect/avoid all errors; use traditional
fonts/sizes; avoid graphics and excess colors; provide detailed contact
information; do not include salary information names of supervisors or
One other tip for someone who has a lot of experience. If you have done
a number of projects or consulting work you might consider an
addendum to your resume that focuses on them specifically.
Bottom line? This resume sounds like it may be too much for an
amateur to tackle. I would probably recommend that your friend
invest in a professional resume writer.