Truth be told, I am no real expert yet.
Bit by bit every day, I am still developing my own brand, shining the rough spots, tweaking and trimming it to perfection, or as close to perfection as it can be.
My realisation of the importance of a great resume in securing that dream job came about during my stint in headhunting. I was an Associate Consultant then, churning through resume after resume every day to find that candidate-job fit. It was a dreary task, but a couple of things made some resumes stand out more than others: a clear career objective, highlights & achievements.
Making your resume stand out in the sea of resumes in the database is slightly akin to search engine optimisation. You have to have the right key words to appeal to the right employer, and make sure you get your headings right. For example, a resume with the title “Angela Cheong Resume” is really not that likely to attract the attention of a weary researcher going cross-eyed from reading piles of resumes. “Media & Communications Professional” however, is going to make that researcher sit up in hope. That pops out because researchers are typing a job function like “marketing communications” to pull up relevant results. “Angela Cheong Resume” in contrast, does not look as promising. It does not say anything about you, and really, your resume only has that few seconds to grab a researcher’s attention before it is drowned by the sheer volume of other resumes clamouring for attention.
Titles, headers, bullet points should be used in meaningful ways to highlight experiences and achievements in a clear and concise manner. Personally, I have some trouble with this as I tend to ramble on, but what helps is if you get someone to look at your resume to trim the fat.
In any case, since my headhunting days, I have been obsessive about my resume. I take it out, blow the dust off, tweak and tweak and tweak, be it online or offline. I have a LinkedIn account, which I update regularly, with more connections than I do Facebook friends. Recently, I discovered brand new shiny toys in my pursuit of the ultimate resume on:
These sites import information from your LinkedIn to render your resume into gorgeous graphical representations, wowing you, the viewer, and hopefully your future employer as well.
This is not to say that the old paper resume is dead. After all, it is the basis from which all these are derived. End of the day, your recruiter is more likely to ask for a PDF template of your traditional resume than one with bells and whistles on. But maybe, just maybe, that link to your colourful graphical life story will give you that competitive advantage to edge out other job seekers.