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Distinguishing Yourself with the VA STAR Method

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Distinguishing Yourself from Other Applicants

How can you stand out from the competition and help an employer remember you? Use the Situation, Task, Action, Results (STAR) method! This will help you present your skills and experience to employers in a unique and effective way.​​​

The Situation, Task, Action, Results (STAR) method, which should be applied to your resume writing and job interviews, will help you create statements that demonstrate your on-the-job impact while also highlighting your past experiences and achievements. These statements, which are focused on how you made a difference in your workplace, are viewed more favorably by an employer than unstructured statements or lists of duties that leave questions about your impact.

How can you use the STAR method? Follow the steps below.

Situation: Describe a specific on-the-job situation that presented a challenge that you resolved. This should include precise details (including who, what, where) so the employer can understand the nature of the situation you faced. You should also include information about your roles and responsibilities in this section. Be careful not to overwhelm the interviewer with details—you don’t want them to get lost or disinterested in the story

Task: Describe what your specific assignment was in the situation you explained above. What goal were you working toward? What were your duties? This component of the STAR method helps the employer understand how your role fits into the big picture of the challenge at hand.

Action: Describe in specific detail what you did to solve the situation. What were your actions? How did you implement them? Remember, the employer does not want to know how your supervisor or team responded, but what you did to remedy the situation.

Result: Describe the direct results of your actions. How did your work help resolve the situation? Did you save the organization money? Did you increase capacity or improve your department’s response time? Use numbers whenever possible to quantify your results; in so doing, employers can more easily discern your impact.

Using the STAR Method in Resumes

The STAR method is particularly useful when detailing your work experience. It helps the employer understand not only what you did at each of your jobs, but how your work impacted the organization. Here is an example of a resume entry using the STAR method:

Inherited a cumbersome client referral system that delayed representative response times by two weeks. My task was to improve representative response times. Designed and implemented a new client referral system including data analytics, automated responses, estimated wait times, and easier access to basic information. Decreased client response time from two weeks to three business days. These changes increased the percentage of satisfied clients from 39% to 82% in less than one year.

Let's break it down!

Situation: Inherited a cumbersome client referral system that delayed representative response times by two weeks.

Task: Improving representative response times.

Action: Designed and implemented a new client referral system including data analytics, automated responses, estimated wait times, and easier access to basic information.

Result: Decreased client response time from two weeks to three business days. These changes increased the percentage of satisfied clients from 39% to 82% in less than one year.

Using the STAR Method in an Interview

The STAR method can help you structure your responses in an interview setting. How? Here is an example.

"Tell me about a challenging situation you faced at work and what you did to resolve that challenge?"

Situation: "I work as a medical assistant in a free clinic for homeless individuals. The clinic provided free healthcare to those who did not have insurance or the finances to pay for healthcare. We had severe overcrowding in the clinic, and individuals would wait for hours to receive care."

Task: "My job was to create efficiency in the clinic to help manage the overcrowding and reduce patient wait times."

Action: "I reorganized their current file management system and created a new appointment tracking system."

Result: "As a result of these efforts, we reduced the average wait time for patients from three hours to one hour and increased the number of patients seen in a single day from 12 to 20. This allowed the clinic to assist more people in need."

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Contributor

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) honors the pledge that Military Service Members and Veterans made to protect our nation. As part of VA’s mission to provide world-class services for the men and women who sacrifice for us, we created a dedicated career support program just for them: VA for Vets.

VA is committed to helping Veterans thrive. VA for Vets works to turn this vision into reality by offering the tools they need to launch their civilian careers at VA.

We offer:

• Thorough military skills translation and career matching for Veterans seeking employment.

•  Professional development and deployment lifecycle support for current Veteran and Military Service Member employees.

• Online training and personalized services for supervisors, hiring managers and coworkers who work with our Veteran employees every day.

Come see how VA for Vets is connecting Veterans to information, tools and resources they need to succeed: www.VAforVets.VA.gov.

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