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STAR Method Resume: Definition, How It Works & More

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If the most challenging part of your job search is writing a resume, you’re not alone. Many people struggle to write a resume that’s understandable and concise.

However, the STAR method resume can help. This method allows you to go into enough detail for your employer to understand your previous jobs without filling it with unhelpful anecdotes.

We will show you how to write a resume using the STAR method, but before we get into that, what does STAR stand for, and how does it work?

What Is the STAR Method?

Writing a concise but detailed resume can be tricky. You want to keep your resume under two pages, but how can you give potential employers the full scope of your abilities within that length?

The STAR method of resume construction helps people construct an engaging resume efficiently. Its four parts, Situation, Task, Action, and Result, are as follows:

  • Situation: What the problem was
  • Task: How you had to fix it
  • Action: What you did to fix it
  • Result: How/if you succeeded

STAR method resumes help you highlight your work experience in a way that shows you at your most capable. It gives employers a concise demonstration of your capabilities and displays your strengths.

What Does STAR Stand For?

STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. It’s a helpful mnemonic for creating a resume that stands out. Many career coaches and professional resume writers use this method to develop resumes that highlight an individual’s strengths in an easy-to-read format.

Why Should You Use the STAR Method for Your Resume?

Stories are some of our most powerful tools, and the STAR approach to resume writing recognizes that. It’s easy to get bogged down in lists of duties when describing a job.

The advantage of STAR is that it forces you to become active in the narrative you tell, showing what you did and how you achieved it. In other words, it’s a short story that opens a dialogue with your prospective employer.

Impresses Employers

The attraction of the STAR method of resume writing is it presents you at your best. Employers often find STAR resumes impressive.

That’s because they get a comprehensive picture of the candidate behind the resume without reading their candidate’s autobiography.

It’s Easy To Use

Another reason the STAR method of Resume writing has such appeal is that anyone can do it.

When we talk about storytelling and narrative, STAR sounds understandably daunting because telling a good story isn’t a skill everyone has.

STAR lets you break your story into bite-sized pieces. Not only that, the acronym helps you remember what to include.

Addresses the Most Important Questions

Resumes force you to distill everything into a bare-bones structure, and displaying your skills can feel challenging with so little space. STAR ensures you don’t leave anything out when describing your experience.

It also stops you from creating ponderous, rambling answers that become unwieldy. Because of this, you can also use it to construct compelling answers to interview questions.

It’s Specific

As mentioned, another benefit of the STAR method of resume writing is that it forces you to be specific.

Some resume coaches will tell you to describe every job as if it was your most successful. STAR ensures you do that because it makes you do more than rattle off a list of duties.

Instead, it forces you to get into the weeds of what you did and how you changed things for the better.

It Lists Your Accomplishments

Finally, STAR lists your accomplishments. It highlights moments in your career so far, where you were at your most successful, and that always impresses employers.

But it does more than rattle off successful moments. Crucially, STAR shows where you succeeded and why and how that success was possible.

That means that when you claim to have a specific skill, there will be a STAR-inspired anecdote to back that claim up.

Even if you can’t express the anecdote in the confines of a resume, a thorough interviewer will allow you to elaborate on your STAR moments in person.

How To Create a STAR Method Resume

How exactly do you use the STAR method to create a resume?

1. Start With a Job Description

Begin by listing your job description and title. Be specific, but keep in mind that you don’t have to worry about the STAR method at this stage.

2. Choose 2-3 Behaviors or Skills You Want to Highlight

Next, choose several behaviors you want to showcase. You don’t need to STAR them, although you do want to cherry-pick what behaviors you choose.

Resumes offer minimal space, and you must evenly distribute your skills and star answers across your career history.

3. Use Bullet Points That Describe the STAR Answer

It’s finally time to bring in STAR! For each skill or behavior you chose, break it into bullet points corresponding to the STAR mnemonic.

4. Use the STAR Method for Job, Task, and Actions

As you write, keep the STAR method of resume writing in mind. It will help your construct concise, compelling resume descriptions that make hiring managers look further.

Do You Use the STAR Method in Your Cover Letter?

The STAR method of resume writing produces a better resume than other techniques. That makes it natural to wonder if you can use the STAR method on your cover letter.

The answer to this is yes. There may be places throughout your cover letter where it feels natural to give anecdotal evidence about a skill you possess or a success you enjoyed.

As with your resume, space is at a premium. You can follow the STAR acronym when constructing your answer to save time and reduce the number of words you use.

The other acronym that can help with cover letters is SMART. Typically, SMART helps form goals, and it’s useful to discuss how you envisage contributing to an organization. Its parts stand for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

These two acronyms will help you construct a concise and engaging cover letter and hopefully carry you that next step further into an interview.

STAR Method Resume Examples

But how does the STAR method work in practice? There are several ways to construct a STAR description for your resume.

In this example, each STAR step is a separate bullet point.

  • Situation: Antique shop had revenue and inventory problems
  • Task: Created new management techniques to address these issues
  • Action: Revamped the existing inventory system and implemented a new and more effective revenue system, both of which I taught to employees in a new training regime
  • Result: Increased profits by over 25%, resolving revenue problems and efficiency by 40%

However, if you find yourself short of space, many people compress their STAR framework into a single bullet point, as in this example.

  • While working for XYZ Company, resolved a customer turnover issue by creating and issuing a survey to accrue data and assess reasons for customer departure; Worked with the manager and collaborated on a customer service initiative that increased the customer base by 15%.

Notice that even when you combine it, all four parts of the STAR method appear in the example above.

Wrapping Up

The STAR method of resume writing can transform your resume. When done well, it gives employers the salient points of your job experience and tells them why to hire you.

One of its advantages is that it always shows you at your best, but it also gives you a set structure to follow to make resume writing quick and easy. If you follow the acronym, you’ll create a resume that stands out from the rest.

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