The role of the resume is in flux. Today, we must contend with online job postings and applications and electronic applicant tracking systems that screen and our resumes before a human lays an eye on them. This has led some HR professionals to assert that the traditional resume is dead, but there is no consensus. Like so much in life, the answer is, “it depends.” It depends on the industry, the company and the role you’re pursuing.

My thought is that if you’re looking for a job, you need a resume. However, you must keep in mind that the role of the resume is not to get you the job–it’s to get you the interview. Many people have the misconception that the resume will land the position. That’s what the interview is for.

Even if you’re going for a position at a company that doesn’t require a resume, the process of putting together an impactful, action-word rich, authentic record of where you’ve been and where you’re going as a professional is an extremely useful exercise. It enables you to be thoughtful about your past experience, think about the skills you’ve developed in various roles that complement each other, and creates a narrative arc of your professional life that seamlessly hangs together. It allows you to organize your thoughts, see gaps in your skills that you may need to explain, and gives you time to anticipate and prepare for questions an interviewer might ask.

Your next employer wants to know how you’re going to help them get to the next level and if you’ll fit in with their organizational culture and structure. Your resume should demonstrate that, which is why you may need multiple versions depending on the position you’re after.

Over the next few posts, we’ll be analyzing the anatomy of a resume. We’ll start with the resume summary, then move on to the different types of resumes and when to use them, explore dynamic and image-conjuring descriptive words, and understand how resumes have moved from a catalog of roles and positions to a results-driven record of how your work has–and will have an impact on an organization.