We all want to show off our best side when applying for jobs. It’s a given. Otherwise you’ll probably fail at the first hurdle. But how to shine? How to show off your skills without sounding arrogant? There is a way of presenting yourself within your resume that really works. It is a tried and tested technique that has long been associated with being used in interviews.
It is known as the STAR method.
Your goal, at the end of the day, is to ensure that your job application helps you land an interview. Correct? One way you can do that is by using the STAR method when writing your resume, so you can catch the recruiter’s eye first off.
Look no further for in-depth insights into how this can be achieved. We’ve got the answers for you right here, right now.
In this article, you’ll learn:
Exactly what the STAR method is
How to use the STAR method in your resume
Discover tangible examples of how to use the STAR method
Why it is important to use the STAR method during your job search
So without further ado, let’s dive in, and find out what the STAR method on a resume is all about.
What is the STAR Method?
The STAR acronym stands for “Situation, Task, Action, and Result.” As mentioned, it’s been used at the interview stage for years as a popular option for interviewers wanting to find the most suitable candidates. This particular style of questioning provides hiring managers with a more accurate measure of future performance. The STAR method is considered a behavioral interview technique, offering interviewers a flexible way in which to gather the vital information they need before proceeding with potential job offers.
The 4 components of the STAR method in interviews
During the interview, an interviewer will ask you to describe a challenging situation that you have encountered in the past.
The interviewer will want to know what goal you were trying to achieve in order to overcome that challenge.
Here, the interviewer wants to learn about the steps you took to meet that goal, and why.
Finally, you will be asked to describe the outcome. Were your actions successful in helping you to obtain your goal and overcome the problem? What lessons did you take away from the experience? What was the added value to you and the company?
While the STAR method has been primarily used for interviews, it is easy to see how it can be adapted as a guide to writing very effective bullet points on a resume!
Adapting the STAR method to your resume
To properly use the STAR method within your resume, you need to apply the same mode of thinking to your work experience descriptions within the career summary section, the part of your resume that normally forms the bulk of the whole document.
You should include information that addresses each of those four areas: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Done properly, this can present a more complete description of your expertise, as well as demonstrate your potential value to prospective employers.
See below for an explanation of how to modify the STAR method used in interviews to your resume.
The 4 components of the STAR method in resumes:
1. Situation: your job, challenge, role, or other context
Begin by defining the role you filled at a previous employer’s company. Include the position and your core responsibilities.
2. Task: demonstrate your competencies through defined problem-solving
Select a required competency from the job posting, and describe an instance in your previous job where you needed to demonstrate that expertise.
3. Action: showcase your ability to make things happen
Provide details about the actions you took to deal with that issue, including whether your efforts involved acting alone or in conjunction with other members of the team.
4. Result: show how you achieved your goals and added value
Document the actual results that you achieved. Here, you will want to focus on quantifiable results, using real numbers to highlight the value that you provided to the company.
What is a good example of using the STAR method in your resume?
To better understand how this works, let’s look at the example below of how it might be used in your resume. For the example, we are assuming that you are applying for a managerial position where the job posting lists “inventory control” as a key qualification.
Now, you could just mention the fact that you managed inventory in your previous position. The better option is to use the STAR method to provide greater clarity and color to your resume description.
Let’s break down how you might think through this process.
I served as the Branch Manager for an industrial equipment warehouse, with responsibility for managing shipments, maintaining inventories, and tracking / monitoring district sales.
When I was hired, the company lacked a cohesive system for inventory control, which resulted in delayed order fulfillment and a high volume of order cancellations, totaling 34%.
I led a dedicated team to redesign the inventory control system, implementing new quality controls, improving network integration, and revising a training program for new hires.
Within just four months, the company’s on-time fulfillment record had soared from 61% to 98%, and we enjoyed an 82% decline in canceled orders. By the year end, profits had risen by 23%.
Obviously, this description is far too long to be used in your resume. But all is not lost. We can use the information you generated with the STAR method to create a strong and comprehensive resume entry.
Bringing it all together
Using the details above, your work experience entry might look something like this:
Headed up the effort to resolve the inventory management deficit at ABC Corp.
Redesigned the inventory control system, quality controls, network integration, and training efforts.
Resulted in improved on-time order fulfillment of 45%, an increase in profits of 23%, and a reduction in canceled orders of 82%.
Alternatively, if you are tight on space within your resume, you can further combine the bullet points into this:
Resolved the inventory management deficit by redesigning the inventory control system, quality controls, network integration, and training so on-time order fulfillment improved by 45%, profits increased by 23%, and canceled orders decreased by 82%.
This more concise bullet point entry summarizes all the information you compiled using the STAR method. More importantly, it provides a clear explanation of the type of value that you provided to that employer, and suggests that you can do the same for a new employer.
And here is another example, where this time, the applicant works in the insurance industry.
As an Insurance Assistant, I worked within a team that dealt with car insurance policies. I had a great relationship with clients, helping them out with questions on any claims or queries on their policies.
I was tasked with finding out why a lot of the clients didn’t renew their policies after a year or two. I did ask colleagues, who’d been there longer than me, why they thought this was, but they said an obvious reason had never been found.
I decided to do something about it, so I devised a customer survey that was easily emailed out to previous customers when they didn’t renew their policies. It asked for a reason why they hadn’t, and included a few reasons why this might be, such as shopping around and finding a better deal with another company, or a lack of customer service support. Once I had enough surveys come back, I cited the top reasons, and requested a meeting with my manager.
After going through the results with my superior, it became clear what the answer was—the perceived lack of customer support throughout the policy renewal process, and also during the claims process. The answer was to train up our customer service staff to be more supportive and helpful, and I was delighted to be put in charge of this project going forward.
Let’s now put this into resume-speak.
Tasked with identifying a lack of policy renewals from previous customers.
Created a comprehensive questionnaire containing detailed information which was sent to customers.
Resulted in customer service staff being offered relevant training to understand and better react to customer needs.
KEY TAKEAWAY The STAR method can help you to effectively convey your value as a potential employee by providing a reliable format for showcasing all of your abilities.
Why the STAR method works for resumes
As you can see, the STAR method creates a much more compelling resume entry. Moreover, it answers many of the hiring manager’s questions before you have even sat down for an interview!
Most importantly, however, it provides an easy-to-use format for addressing the single, most critical question any employer wants answered--can you provide real value to my company?
It’s not necessary for every bullet point to follow this format, but one or two of your best examples from each job will really help you stand out as a valid candidate.
Using the STAR method in your resume will:
Help you prepare for an interview, as the examples you use within your resume can be adapted to use at an interview.
Differentiate your resume from other candidates, emphasizing your skills in a way that keeps the recruiter engaged while reading all about your achievements.
Offer up detailed information on your career background, and how you got to where you are today. The STAR technique draws the attention to specific examples where you have excelled, thus giving hiring managers a good understanding of your expertise and many abilities.
Position you as an achiever and not just a doer, which is essential to show on your resume, shedding light on your ability to resolve problems and contribute in this new role.
You don’t need those dull, dry employment descriptions any more on your resume. Start thinking like a STAR. Because when you do, you will find that the STAR method can help redirect your thoughts and aid you in crafting a more compelling resume and cover letter. That will better ensure that you’re able to secure more interviews, and get that dream job that you have always hankered after.
To ensure that you’re utilizing the STAR method to its fullest effect, check out ZipJob’s free resume review tool. It provides great insight into how to create the perfect resume that should put you on the road to success!
Elizabeth Openshaw, Editor & Content Writer, Elizabeth Openshaw, Editor & Content Writer
Elizabeth Openshaw is an Elite CV Consultant with over 12 years of experience based in Brighton, UK, with an English degree and an addiction to Wordle! She is a former Journalist of 17 years with the claim to fame that she interviewed three times Grand Slam winner and former World No.1 tennis player, Andy Murray, when he was just 14 years old. You can connect with her at Elizabeth Openshaw | LinkedIn.