When you’re applying for a job, you want to make your resume stand out. Often, that means showing how you added value to your team or organization in previous jobs. The best way to do that? The STAR format.

What is the STAR Method?

The STAR method is a way of describing your work experience on a resume, in a cover letter, and especially during a job interview. The name is an acronym that stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. In essence, you discuss your past experience by describing not just what you did, but the context and what you accomplished.

Here’s a breakdown of each part of the STAR method:

Situation

The Situation step is about discussing the background or context for your accomplishments. Before you can talk about what you accomplished, you need to explain the initial problem your organization faced or the need you set out to meet.

Task

In this part of the STAR formula, you discuss your role in the challenge. This step is often the shortest step and may be just a few words. In some cases, the Task step is almost an extension of the Situation section.

Action

The Action step is where you describe how you approached the problem or the actions you took. To do this step effectively, you should make it clear whether you worked on a team or made an individual contribution.

Result

The final and arguably most important step of the STAR formula is describing the results of your actions. If possible, try to list concrete metrics associated with your success, such as the number of items you packaged per day or the percentage increase in sales in a specific time period.

STAR Method Example

Let’s say you were the branch manager at a warehouse. Here’s how you might break down your past experience into the STAR format:

  • Situation: The company did not have a cohesive system for inventory management.
  • Task: As a branch manager, you were tasked with maintaining inventories, managing shipments, and tracking sales.
  • Action: You transitioned the company to a new inventory management software and created a new system based on priority, standardized record-keeping, and a consistent process for receiving stock. You then trained your team on this system.
  • Result: The company’s on-time order fulfillment record increased from 52% to 85% within four months, and there was a 75% decrease in canceled orders.

As you can see, this STAR format description is rather long. You may be able to say all of this during your job interview, but you will need to condense the information to make it fit on your resume.

Here’s what your STAR description might look like under a job heading in your resume’s experience section:

  • Led effort to improve the company’s on-time order fulfillment rate.
  • Redesigned the inventory management system based on priority, introduced standardized record-keeping, and developed a consistent process for receiving stock.
  • Trained warehousing associates on ABC software.
  • Drove a 63% increase in on-time order fulfillment and a 75% reduction in canceled orders.

Or, if you don’t have much space, you can condense it into one bullet point:

  • Led effort to improve the company’s on-time order fulfillment rate by redesigning the inventory management system and training team members on ABC software, resulting in a 63% increase in on-time order fulfillment and a 75% reduction in canceled orders.

How to Use the STAR Method Effectively

Ideally, your previous experience should tie into the role you are applying for.  If you’ve been in the workforce for any length of time, you may have more experience than fits on your resume, so you will want to focus on past experiences that relate to the responsibilities listed in the job description.

Try to connect your experience to the employer’s goals, such as by stating how you worked on a project or issue at your previous workplace that your potential employer may have as well. If possible, try to use action verbs that are listed in the job description.

We hope these tips help you build a more effective resume and get the job you are hoping for! For more resume tips, check out our recent posts about common resume mistakes and what to do if you’re applying for a job with no previous work experience.