How and why it might be a good idea to structure your resume like a press release

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The ongoing grind of the job hunt often inspires the desire to send out resumes that catch people’s attention. For creatives that might include a catchy tagline or clever wordplay. For graphic artists, that could feature a stunning design at the top of the page that says more about your talents than a list of happy clients. But what about people who need to use words alone to describe their skills and abilities? Structuring your resume like a press release might be the energy boost your career desperately needs.

Why a press release?

Press releases — like resumes — often have to limit themselves to capturing someone’s attention immediately and presenting all information in a catchy way … all in under a page. Sound familiar? If you’re looking for a job in communications, structuring your resume like a press release is a clever idea as it would stand out among ones that are more typical, said Ann Magnin, founder of NYC PR agency Ann Magnin, Inc.

And if you’re looking for inspiration, Magnin said: “Its format and language could mimic a release announcing a new hire or promotion, sort of cheeky, but also a way to illustrate that you’re a perfect match for the company.” But don’t settle for sending the same press release to every company. Research your target and include specific elements that make it clear you know the company. Meanwhile, Magnin thinks you can be creative depending on your target “A resume written like a press release can include a visual component to further elevate it; perhaps it can even be interactive!”

It worked for her

In 2005, new college graduate Sarah Usher, who currently works as Director of Communications for AGW Group was trying to set herself apart from other new graduates. At that point, “We were still mailing our resumes to prospective employers, so I wrote an actual press release to act as my cover letter – the release was announcing I’d been hired by the company I was applying for complete with a quote from the CEO and all.”

It worked for her. “I received an overwhelming response from it, more than I had anticipated. I had CEOs from companies that didn’t even have open positions available at the time calling me to compliment the way in which I had reached out. It got me quite a few interviews, and ultimately my first job in the PR field.” But a creative approach to your resume isn’t limited to the communications industry. “I think it’s important to be able to sell yourself in the same way you would think about positioning a client,” Usher said.

To that end, think about “What are your differentiators; the compelling, and interesting characteristics that make you stand out from everyone else? Usher also advises trying to “find ways to get your story and expertise across in a unique way to help cut through the clutter of other standard/form resumes and cover letters potential employers receive on a daily basis.”

How to get started

“Generally speaking, there is no right or wrong answer on how to format your resume,” offered Amy Onori, Talent Director M Booth.

It might help to think of your resume as “a snapshot and a reflection of your work history, Onori said. More than that, “It’s the first impression you’re going to give to a prospective employer.” For that reason, formatting your resume like a press release could help because the information on both needs to be relevant and succinct. It’s also important to realize that press releases have a sense of immediacy.

“When you’re unleashing a piece of media to the press, you’re essentially broadcasting a piece of news you want captured within the media ASAP,” Onori said. Keeping that in mind might help you to structure your resume in a way that makes it seem important enough to review right now before all the other candidates.

But don’t be so brief that you forget the essentials. Make sure to always include “where you’ve worked, what you’ve done and accomplished, and where your core competencies are,” Onori cautions. “Your resume can be your brand, and employers like brands that can tell a sweet and simple story of where you’ve been, where you plan to go, and the assets you’ll be able to take with you on your journey.”