The best way to get your story across is to use the STAR method

You've likely heard about using the STAR method to answer behavioral interview questions. Those are the questions that begin with something like, “Tell me about a time when…” But did you know that you can also use the STAR method to qualify and quantify achievements in your resume? 

Since your resume is largely made up of single-sentence bullet points, how do you use the STAR method to tell a story? This article will show you how and will provide example bullet points to guide you along. 

What is the STAR Method?

The STAR method is the best, most concise way to tell a story in your resume. As you might imagine, STAR is an acronym. It stands for:

  • Situation

  • Task

  • Action

  • Result

You've probably heard that your resume needs to present your history in a way that shows achievement. No longer is it good enough to say that you are “responsible for training staff,” for example. You must dive deeper by highlighting the things you achieved in each job role. Using the STAR method is a straightforward yet humble way to brag about those achievements on your resume. 

Let's face it, there are a lot of things people are responsible for doing that just do not get done. Moreover, employers understand that every job candidate has been tasked with certain responsibilities. They want to know how you used your skills to meet those responsibilities and accomplish results that provided real value for your employers.

Situation: Everything you accomplish in your career starts with a situation that needs to be handled. Discuss what was happening and what was being affected by the issue. 

Task: What goal did you have in mind as you worked to address that situation? Were you assigned specific tasks to overcome related challenges? 

Action: This is your time to talk about specific steps you took to solve the problem. Explaining the way that you tackled the problem helps recruiters to understand your approach and working style.

Result: The result is the coup de grace, or deathblow, to the problem that you, your team, or your company faced. This is the shining moment where you talk about your achievement. 

What is the point of using the STAR method?

Many people think that all a prospective employer needs to know is your career history. While it's important to detail the things that you've done in your career to get you to this point, that's not all that employers want to see. The job market is fiercely competitive! To stand out from the competition, you'll need to differentiate yourself from rival candidates - and the best way to do that is by highlighting your achievements. 

Using the STAR method can offer several benefits that will help to shine a spotlight on you, including:

  • Demonstrating that you understand how your qualifications can make an impact on operations

  • Presenting yourself as an achiever rather than a doer

  • Laying the groundwork for talking points that you can use during the interview

How to use the STAR method in your resume

You may have a few stories in your head now. They're probably lengthy stories, however, which may make you wonder how you're supposed to fit everything into a one- or two-page document. 

PRO TIP: Remember that your resume isn't supposed to be a narrative of everything you've done. It's supposed to be a summary of your career, showing what you can bring to the table at a new company.

The fact is that you're not going to be able to fit every detail of your STAR stories into your resume. Instead, you should include just enough information about the Situation, Task, Action, and Result to capture the reader's interest and make them want to learn more about you. If you can spark their curiosity about a career achievement, they'll be more likely to call you for an interview. Then, during the interview, you can expand on the story and give the rest of the details. 

In addition to using the STAR method resume technique in your work achievement bullet points, you can also use it in your resume profile. Simply use the STAR storytelling structure to describe any achievement that you include in that profile. That will help to ensure that your introduction paragraph tells a more compelling story about who you are as a person and a professional.

Related post: Make the Perfect First Impression with Your Resume

Tips to create a STAR method resume

The first thing to do is to pick a major keyword from the job description, remembering that your resume needs to focus on demonstrating your qualifications for that job. For example, if you're applying for a job as a Claims Adjuster, one of your main tasks could center around determining liability. 

This seems easy enough. All you need to do is write a bullet that says you understand how to assess damage to determine liability. Unfortunately, every other Claims Adjuster will be able to say the same thing - which will mean that your resume is no more compelling than theirs. And that just won't cut it in today's competitive labor market.

The good news is that there's a solution. Let's turn that statement into something that packs a little more punch. 

1. Situation

I worked on residential and commercial claims processes, which could be a significant cost to the business. 

2. Task

I had to gather and analyze documentation and photos of the damage. I completed cost estimates, researched market rates for new construction, and authored proposals for underwriting and financial institutions to mitigate operational risk. 

3. Action

I monitored claims volumes for severity and analyzed trends to root out unwarranted claims.

4. Result

I saved more than $1.2M within 6 months by finding and eliminating more than 250 fraudulent claims. 

Of course, all of that won't fit on a resume, but we can use the STAR method to help to tell the story in a more concise manner. You can do that by writing a single bullet point that contains key elements of the story. That would look something like this:

  • Slashed claims costs by $1.2M+ in 6 months, after assessing damage, analyzing trends, and monitoring claim volumes to reveal over 250 fraudulent claims

That already looks far better than simply stating that you know how to determine liability. You could also use the bullet / sub-bullet method. This allows you to start the story off and then break it down into sections:

Led unprecedented effort to research and eliminate fraudulent claims:

  • Performed deep-dive analysis of damage photos and claims documentation

  • Compared cost estimates and market rates with claims severity and trends

  • Saved over $1.2M within 6 months and eliminated more than 250 fraudulent claims

Whether you choose the single bullet or bullet / sub-bullet option, you're telling a story that lends value to your career history. You now stand out from the crowd of job seekers and a hiring manager will have a clearer picture of what you have to offer to his or her team. 

Related post: 100 + Keywords, Verbs and Action Words for Your Resume

What makes the STAR method so great for resumes?

There are many obvious reasons why the STAR method is such an effective tool for any resume. For example:

  • The STAR method can help you to focus on what you did and the results you produced, rather than just reciting your job duties

  • STAR provides a simple and clear structure for telling your story, minimizing resume space

  • Bullet points that use the STAR method can be easily customized to align with any job you're seeking

  • Using this narrative technique enables you to draw attention to the benefits you provided for that employer, which is important since prospective employers are always interested in the value you can add to their organization

  • If you use real numbers in your STAR method resume achievements, you can quantify the results that you achieved to really highlight your value

Just like those behavioral interview questions, your resume is an open-ended story about your career. It allows you to provide as much or as little information as you deem necessary to convey your message. The STAR method allows you to deliver that message in an organized way. 

In revisiting the concept that your resume is a summary of your career, keep in mind that you may not need to develop every achievement using the STAR method. You can reserve STAR method resume bullet points for critical events that will make you stand out from the crowd. 

More STAR method resume examples

To further demonstrate how effective STAR method resume bullet points can be, we've compiled several other examples of this technique in action. They include examples for an entry-level resume, as well as several other job titles. We've also included an example of how you can use the STAR technique to cite an achievement in your resume profile.

1.     Entry level or recent graduate STAR method resume bullet point example

Situation: Group lab project in college

Task: Design an online marketing campaign for local business

Action: Led team in collaboration with company's Office Manager, building new site, social media presence, and customer engagement campaign

Result: Increased company's website and social media engagement by 180%, with 200% boost in customer total online and in-store visits

STAR method bullet point:

  • Led university team project that revitalized local business partner's online marketing, expanding total on- and offline customer engagement by 200%

2.     Sales STAR method resume bullet point example

Situation: Company leaders set a 15% sales growth target

Task: Needed to expand customer base and sales conversions to meet goals

Action: Increased upsell efforts with high-value customers, while doubling cold call activities

Result: Boosted client acquisition by 20% and total sales by 19%

STAR method bullet point:

  • Led sales team effort that exceeded company sales goals, increasing customer acquisition by 20% and boosting sales revenue by 19%

3.     Accounting STAR method resume bullet point example

Situation: Company costs needed to be reduced

Task: Identify waste, redundancies, and project cost overruns to reduce expenses

Action: Conducted month-long internal audit of all departments

Result: Identified more than $15k in monthly waste and cost overruns, reducing annual expenses by $180,000

STAR method bullet point:

  • Conducted internal financial audit that reduced annual expenses by $180,000 through elimination of waste, project cost overruns, and redundancies

4.     IT Manager STAR method resume bullet point example

Situation: Company network was creating inefficiencies and increasing employee errors

Task: Identify and set up a new network system

Action: Researched potential replacement systems, purchased chosen solution, and implemented new network

Result: New network system reduced troubleshooting time by 61% and reduced employee errors by more than 80%

STAR method bullet point:

  • Selected and installed a new network system that resulted in 80% improvement in employee accuracy while reducing IT troubleshooting time by 61%

5.     STAR method resume example for resume profile

Situation: Client needed a new mobile application to replace faulty program

Task: Create a new mobile app in eight days, eliminating previous app's programming errors

Action: Led 3-person design team in development project that required careful analysis of previous app, redesign of app interface, and repurposing of brand graphics

Result: Redesigned mobile app within assigned deadline, earning 10% early bonus from client and 100% satisfaction rating

STAR method resume profile text:

Redesigned client's faulty mobile app on expedited schedule, delivering new application that met all expectations and with client expressing 100% satisfaction.

Related post: 47 Accomplishment Examples for Your Resume: Expert Picks

Give your resume impact

By using the STAR method resume approach, you can help your achievement bullet points deliver an even more compelling narrative to employers. Instead of leaving them to wonder how much value you might be able to deliver for their company, you can demonstrate that value in a clear way, providing them with a real reason to schedule an interview with you.

If you need help, that's not a problem. TopResume has a talented team of professional resume writers ready to take on the task of making you look like a career achiever. Why not submit your resume for a free review today?

This article was originally written by Marsha Hebert and has been updated by Ken Chase.

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