The other day I had an interesting conversation with a client. She is both president of a business (landlord of commercial real estate) and a researcher. Very different skill sets, but she's a savvy job hunter who has found positions that require her unique blend of skills and experience.
Also an intellectually gifted person, my client, let's call her Cynthia, spelled out for me specifically what she loved about her new resume.
One of the first differences Cynthia mentioned was that her new resume didn't follow the "rules" as she perceived them. It didn't stick to a dry recounting of duties or general accountabilities; rather it reframed these in a way that would be more meaningful and appealing to the reader.
It's like selling fast food burgers with a slogan (think "I'm loving it") rather than with a list of ingredients (each burger contains 3 oz of meat, 1 tsp of salt and 1 Tbs of water). I made those ingredients up, by the way. I have no idea what goes into any commercial burgers! But the slogan is catchy and the list? Not so much.
Another point Cynthia made was that I chose not to list all 11 positions that she has held since graduating in the 1980s. Now, on another client's resume I might include all, and even get into details, but ONLY if there is a strategic reason to do so. In her case, those positions way back when are not relevant to her new goal, do not add any skills she needs to prove she has, and in large part only restate the same-old. A grand waste of valuable resume real estate!
And lastly, Cynthia noted that I did not use dates for some of her earlier jobs, which were listed with no details, nor did I add dates to her education. The reader will not know when she launched her career, and thus will not be able to calculate her age. Not that age discrimination exists (well, officially it doesn't).
Here's the point: the resume is not a historical document, it does not have to conform to rules other than sticking to the truth, and the detail does not have to be identical to another Researcher's resume detail.
It can (and I'll argue it MUST) pick and choose the detail, frame the accountabilties to highlight the skills, experience and knowledge that are most aligned with the next career goal, and YES! even break a few rules!
I have omitted dates, used the first-person pronoun "I" (horrors!), added unorthodox sections like My Methodology, Relevant Strengths Defined, created unique graphics, and yes, my clients have landed interviews. They've even been told "impressive resume."
So, historical document or advertising copy? I'd say it's a judicious blend of both: truthful and without hyperbole, but self-marketing and promotional, nonetheless.
P.T. Barnum, the famous American showman who founded the circus, is quoted as having stated "without promotion something terrible happens - nothing!" and he could have been referring to resumes!