Potential job candidates often rely on their resumes to get them to the next step in an application process. By using a method called STAR, you can create a resume that shows your value as a job candidate. This method allows you to match your skills to job qualifications by pairing your work experience with relevant examples.
In this article, we explain what the STAR method is, how it works and how you can adapt it for a resume.
What is the STAR method?
The STAR method is a four-part technique for answering interview questions. STAR is an acronym for the four parts of an answer: Situation, Task, Action and Result. The STAR technique encourages job seekers to give more detail about their work experience. Using STAR to answer interview questions allows you to reveal more details about your skills and knowledge, giving you a potential advantage over other candidates.
What are the components of a STAR response?
It's helpful to break down the individual parts of a STAR answer to better understand how to discuss or describe each part in the context of employment:
- Situation: In the first part of a STAR response, talk briefly about your previous job. Explain the situation that will serve as the basis for the rest of your example.
- Task: Next, discuss the problem you had to solve or a goal you worked towards in your previous job situation. Explain any specific tasks you completed using your unique qualities and skills.
- Action: Detail the steps you took to complete a task or achieve a goal. Give an explanation of your process in this part of your STAR response.
- Results: Finally, explain how solving the problem or meeting your goal contributed to your workplace. List any important lessons learned or skills gained through the outcome.
What is a STAR method response?
Using the STAR method to answer a question allows you to clearly explain your knowledge and capabilities. It forces you to slow down and use specific examples in your response. It helps a potential employer learn more about a situation from your point of view.
Let's take the four parts of STAR and use them to answer a question. For example, if an interviewer asks: "Can you describe a time when you were a leader?" a STAR method answer would look like this:
"When I worked as an insurance agent, I was part of a team that handled home insurance policies. I served clients who had questions about their policy or claims."
"After working in this position for over a year, I noticed a lot of our clients were not renewing their policies and I wanted to know why. I asked my coworkers who had been with the agency longer than me and they said they had never been able to identify a clear reason."
"I developed an email survey that asked customers why they didn't renew their policies and included the top reasons insurance experts listed for why people dropped their coverage. I also included a line for others with an option to fill in a text box. After I collected enough surveys, I compiled the top five reasons and asked to meet with the president of our agency."
"After talking with the agency president, we realized that we could easily stop the biggest reason our customers didn't renew by expanding our customer service. He put me in charge of this initiative, which is why I now have the skills and desire to pursue management."
Related: Smart Answers To Interview Questions
How do you create a resume using the STAR method?
To create a resume using the STAR method, look at a job description and choose two to three key behaviors or skills you want to show under your "Experience" section. Use the outline of a verbal answer and condense it into a few key points under a job title. The best way to do this is by using one or multiple bullet points that clearly describe all the components of the STAR answer.
Instead of just listing key responsibilities for a previous job under your "Experience" section, use the STAR method to describe each job with your situation, a task or tasks you completed in that role, actions you took to achieve a successful outcome and the result of those steps. This can all be done in a sentence or phrase for each point.
STAR method resume example
Here's an example of how you can take the sample about leadership and change it from a spoken interview question to an example of work experience on a resume using the STAR method, with each STAR step indicated in parentheses:
825 Lakeview Circle
Dayton, Ohio, 45402
OBJECTIVE: To manage a team of insurance professionals in an independent agency
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Ohio State University, 2011-2015
Customer Service Coordinator
Bradley Insurance, Dayton, OH, June 2017-Present
- Used my role as a home insurance agent to identify customer turnover (Situation and Task are combined here)
- Developed a digital survey to collect data from exiting customers (Action)
- Worked with agency president to lead a new customer service initiative (Results)
Home Insurance Agent
Bradley Insurance, Dayton, OH, June 2017-2018
- Worked with customers to set up homeowners insurance policies (Situation)
- Explained policy information and tracked claims (Task)
- Built relationships with customers to earn trust and become the first call after home damage (Action)
- Grew customer base 10% from word of mouth recommendations and networking (Results)
Benefits of using the STAR method
Using the STAR method in a resume makes it easier to share the scope of your skills and qualifications. Here are the main benefits of choosing this method:
- Shows your value: The main goal of a potential employer is to find out how you will add value to the company when you are hired. When you use the STAR method in your resume, you can show your value more clearly.
- Provides more detail: Using the STAR method changes the vague skill descriptions of a bulleted list into a specific example of how you developed and used an important skill.
- Creates talking points: Creating a resume with the STAR method prepares you for an interview. Your resume can become an outline for interview questions regarding your job qualifications.
- Tells a story: The STAR method allows you to present a narrative of how your work experience has shaped who you are.
- Produces a competitive resume: Using this method, you can fit your STAR responses to match an employer's job description. This not only shows you're qualified with the skills to take the job, but it also makes a resume more interesting to read.