Lots of folks advocate the use of the STAR (Situation, Task, Action/Activity, Results) method for handling questions during job interviews. See this recent piece at The Guardian or this piece from Huffington Post. Utilizing the STAR Method in Your Resume & Interviews from the Warrington College of Business Administration at the University of Florida makes it clear that the STAR approach is also helpful when selling yourself in writing. Let’s look at three examples from LinkedIn profiles of people I know.
|Example A from a student seeking an analyst position
Found under “Background Summary” section
|Example B from a student seeking an analyst position
Found under position description for “Tactical Intelligence Analyst”
|Example C from a professor listing experience
Found under position description for “Editor of Transactions”
|Situation||Master’s program project for ShoppersChoice.com||US Army tactical intelligence operations in Salah ad Din Province, Iraq||Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) research journal|
|Task||To increase search engine marketing ROI using SAS||To predict Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonations||To produce quality content on time and on budget|
|Results||Reduced costs by $652,049||Saved lives by achieving 60% reduction in successful attacks in a 15 month period||Achieved #1 journal ranking, while producing 40 quarterly issues under budget and on schedule|
The amount of detail might not work in a brief resume. That’s one of the advantages of online profiles. NOTE: If you’re not using LinkedIn to sell yourself (or recruit for your organization), you’re missing the boat. Jobvite’s 2013 survey of 1600 recruiting and human resources professionals found that 94% of them were using LinkedIn for recruiting. Even in a resume, you’re more likely to get a potential employer’s interest with this kind of detail about a small number of relevant experiences that with a brief listing of lots of (potentially) relevant experiences.
I’d argue what is most compelling about each example is the content in the final row — those RESULTS. It’s relatively easy to describe the situation you faced, the task you were set, and the actions you took. That’s what most people include under their position descriptions or background summaries. But making the results you achieved concrete is a challenge. That’s why you’ll stand out from the crowd if you do it.