Differentiating Your Resume Using the STAR method

Create impactful resume statements by adopting this simple and useful framework today, and increase your chances of progressing to the interview round!

Having consulted and written resumes for numerous clients over the past year or so, I have noticed one common thing among all of them – the need for elaboration and clarity in the statements describing their past experiences.

Most of the time, I find myself asking our clients for more details on the work or role that they were involved in, how they have contributed to the organisation, and what tangible results were produced as a result of their actions.

Without ample substantiation included in their resume statements, it is difficult for hiring managers or recruiters to identify the relevant skills and expertise that they are looking out for.

If you are applying for an attractive position that is extremely competitive, having an attention-grabbing and power-packed resume will definitely give you an advantage over the hundreds or thousands of others that are vying for the same position as you are.

Having the experience or qualifications alone is not enough to get you to the next round, unless you manage to structure them in a clear and succinct manner that convinces the reader to give you a second look.

What then makes certain types of resume stand out among the vast pool of mediocre ones?

The STAR Method – Writing Impactful Statements

As simple as it sounds, the STAR method – an abbreviation for “Situation, Task, Action, Result”, is a sure way of demonstrating and highlighting your competencies and achievements through your work experiences, co-curricular activities and other major projects you have undertaken. Rather than just listing your daily routine work over a couple of bullet points, the STAR method gives a more comprehensive picture of your capabilities as a potential candidate.

Let us look at how you can better craft your sentences using each of the following four components – guiding questions and examples included:

1) Situation

Describe the context of the task, project or issue you faced, and the specific role or position you held to address it. This provides the reader with a better understanding of the challenge you were trying to tackle and the level of contribution you made to the situation. “Situation” is often found to overlap with “Task”, which means you may combine both points together in writing your sentences.

  • What was the situation you were involved in?

  • What role did you play in completing the task-at-hand?

E.g. “I served as the project manager and led a team of 8 in ensuring smooth delivery and implementation of the new system integration.”

2) Task

Explain what you had to do and how you did it in order to achieve the objective or goal that was defined in the situation. Be as detailed as you can and include relevant terms specific to the task. Try to avoid using acronyms that might confuse the reader, especially if you are stating a niche term that is not recognised by people in general; state them out in full. If possible, state the scale or impact of your task, especially if it involves a large amount of monetary value or major events that are significant to you and the company.

  • What was the task you had to carry out?

  • What strategy did you adopt?

  • What tools or software did you utilise to execute the task?

  • Whom did you liaise with or reach out to for completing the task?

E.g. “To gain consumer insights in the online shopping patterns of millennials by conducting focus group discussions with 20 customers, which will be translated into actionable steps to improve our marketing efforts on our e-commerce platform”

3) Action

Start each of your sentences with an action verb to highlight a skill that you have acquired or honed in accomplishing your task. Customise and match the relevant skills required for the position that you are applying to based on the job description provided by the company.

(More examples of action verbs at: http://tinyurl.com/actionverbs-examples)

Avoid using vague and uninformative action verbs, such as: “Assisted”, “Contributed”, “Helped”, “Involved”, “Participated”, “Supported”. If you assisted with something, there must be something you actually did, for example, if you assisted in organising an event for your company, state clearly: What did you do to assist? Did you arrange the logistics and booths for the event? Did you serve as a guide for the event? Use these specifics to describe what you actually did in your experiences, or the reader will be left clueless as to what you did to assist or support.

4) Results

Show the impact or outcome of your action and quantify your achievements with NUMBERS to capture the attention of hiring managers.

If you are unable to quantify your achievements, show that you understand the purpose of your action to leave a good impression on the reader.

Practice! Use the STAR Method

After elaborating on how you can effectively use the STAR method above, let’s put that into practice and start adopting it in your own resume statements today. Take a look at how you can create impactful, achievement-oriented sentences from the example below:

If you find that your sentences are similar to the example on the left in the table above, think of how you can refine and add certain keywords and skills in a short and succinct manner that captures the essential details of your achievements and experiences. Make the effort to improve your resume using the STAR method and increase your chances of successfully progressing to the interview stage!

💡 Tip: Try to cut down on the several bullet points that describes the daily routine work that you do, and instead, focus on a few significant highlights during your time in your previous company or student club. I personally recommend 3-5 bullet points to describe each experience.

All the best with your resume and let us know your opinions in the comments below.

Thank you! 😊

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