You might have heard of the STAR method to answer behavioral questions in job interviews for various tech companies, most notably Amazon. But you can apply its principles to create a great resume that contextualizes your achievements and operational capabilities.
At Levels.fyi, we emphasize placing your expertise and years of experience within the professional context of working with a team.
Hiring managers no longer want the kind of dull, dry stating of facts that most job seekers put in their resumes. They want to see how well you can perform, especially under stressful situations.
The STAR approach provides them with an extra reliable measure of future performance. But how exactly do you apply the STAR approach to your resume? In this article, you'll learn:
- What the STAR method is
- What does STAR stand for?
- How to use the STAR method for your resume
- How to turn your STAR answers into resume-friendly bullet points
- Why use the STAR method for resumes
What Is The STAR Method?
The STAR method is a framework that’s been used to answer behavioral questions in job interviews effectively.
Behavioral interview questions are questions on how you've applied your skills in a real-world context. When interviewers ask you this type of question, they want to see how you react in the face of adversity and whether you're a good fit with the team.
Examples of behavioral interview questions include:
- Tell me about a time when someone's report was late, and they weren't responsive. How did you go about solving this situation?
- Tell me about a time you've made a mistake. How did you go about this?
- When you were dissatisfied at work, how did you go about continuing with your tasks?
But employing the STAR method to your resume can also help the recruiter better understand how you've effectively applied your skills to succeed in your past work through concrete examples.
STAR Formula: What Does STAR Stand For?
The STAR acronym stands for situation, task, action, and results. Similar to when you're answering behavioral questions, your resume needs to stick within this sequence to correctly apply the STAR method.
If done correctly, this can provide a full description of your experience and show your value to prospective employers. In the next section, we’ll give some sample answers to get you a clearer sense of what each component means.
STAR Method Resume: Drafting Your Answers
Let's set the context behind this application. You're applying for a job at Stripe for a regional marketing manager role for Western Europe, and you consider yourself to be quite a strong candidate. In the past, you were head of marketing for Mailjet, an email service provider startup that just got acquired by Mailgun.
You want to make sure you'll get the job, so you've decided to apply the STAR method to your resume. But what exactly makes a STAR resume?
Situation - What is the context?
The *situation *describes the context surrounding the problem or challenge you encountered in the past. Begin by defining the role you held at your former employer's company and state the scope of your responsibilities:
As Mailjet's head of marketing operations in the EMEA and USA region, I was the direct manager of a multilingual, 10-person marketing team, including seven direct reports and two agencies in the USA, France, Germany, and Spain.
This response is better suited for a behavioral answer in your job interview. However, it can also serve as a great guideline on what to include in your resume:
Title of this past work experience: Mailjet - Head of marketing operations (EMEA and USA) (June 2016 - July 2019)
Let's keep it like this for now. We'll come back to the rest of the content.
Task - What was the relevant task you were responsible for?
The recruiter wants to understand your tasks and responsibilities, including why they hired you in the first place. After all, companies hire people to make its processes more effective.
Establish your competencies by setting a problem that was happening before you arrived. You could particularly mention a task or responsibility mentioned in the job post listing:
For this role at Stripe, you must have experience managing a distributed marketing team and coordinating multilingual marketing campaign initiatives across Germany, France, Spain, and the Netherlands.
A draft of a task statement to this could be:
Before Mailjet hired me, the company lacked cohesion across its global marketing campaigns. It didn't have a strategic alignment of their overall marketing goals and business development initiatives. They also didn't have a consistent way of communicating Mailjet across these different regions. I was tasked with finding a better way for our distributed marketing team to work together.
The task part explains why this past company has hired you. It also shows why your skills are highly relevant for this new role you're applying for.
Action - What did you do to improve the processes?
The action describes the steps you took to address the situation or overcome the challenge.
You'll need to showcase your ability to make things happen. Present details of the actions you took to manage the issue. Most importantly, present your initiatives within the context of working alongside a team:
I led a team effort to restructure our marketing workflows. This included setting weekly meetings to align our marketing campaigns. We've begun working more closely with the product team to ensure that we develop multi-marketing initiatives on product launches and with the sales team to repurpose our content assets for sales outreach.
Results - What are the results of your actions?
Did your actions help you to achieve your goal and overcome the challenge? What was the lesson you got from experience? What value did this add to you and your organization?
You'll want to center on quantifiable outcomes, using real figures to highlight the value you contributed to the company. List any vital lessons or skills learned through the development.
Here's a sample answer that you can use in job interviews:
The restructuring of our marketing team led to vast improvements in the way we executed marketing campaigns. For example, we've applied our critical learnings in digital marketing strategy in the US to Spain, where the market for ESPs was less saturated and less mature.
After six months, Spain had a 500% growth in organic search traffic due to the high-volume, low competition keywords in Spanish, compared to English. Outside digital, we've also participated in more marketing campaigns across France. One French event led to sales closing five enterprise deals valued at $25,000 and more.
Suffice to say, we've not only learned how to work better as a team, but we've also figured out how to better collaborate with other teams in the company. The company went from experiencing a loss in the previous year to a 20% profit in 20XX.
This answer is quite comprehensive, but you don't need to include everything in your resume. Focus on using a snippet or two in this section. Notice that the bolded bits have numbers and figures to demonstrate this success.
Making Your STAR Answers Resume-Friendly
Turn your answers into bullet points that can neatly fit within your resume. Your entry might look something like this:
Mailjet - Head of marketing operations (EMEA and USA) (June 2015 - July 2019)
- Led effort to align global marketing initiatives and business development goals
- Restructured marketing communication workflows, liaised with product and sales teams, built upon previous successes in local regions, and set up best practices for better collaboration
- Efforts led to 20% increased profit, 500% growth in Spain's SEO efforts, and increased enterprise deals at $25,000 and more in France.
If you want to make this even more succinct:
Mailjet - Head of marketing operations (EMEA and USA) (June 2015 - July 2019)
- Aligned global marketing initiatives alongside business and sales objectives and set up best practices across all regions to drastically improve our localized campaigns; yearly profits improved by 20%, 500% SEO growth in Spain, helped close more enterprise deals at $25,000 and more in France.
This concise summary includes all the necessary details from your STAR statements. But you need to understand that getting into this one bullet point requires a lot of elaboration and clarity on what to include. Therefore, before you try to summarize your feats, make sure that they are clear to yourself, first and foremost.
Benefits Of Using The STAR Method in Resumes
Employing the STAR technique in a resume enables you to share the scope of your qualifications and skills quickly. Below are some benefits of adopting the STAR method in your resume.
- Shows your value: A potential employer's primary goal is to determine how you will bring value to the firm when they hire you. When you use the STAR method in your resume, you can reveal your value more explicitly.
- Presents more detail: Using the STAR approach improves the obscure skill descriptions of a bulleted list into an actual example of how you acquired and applied a vital skill.
- Allows talking points: Drafting your STAR answers gives a clearer idea of effectively answering behavioral interview questions.
- Narrates a story: The STAR method permits you to explain how your work experience has formed who you are and how you've been successful in your experience.
- Creates a compelling resume relevant to the job requirements: By applying this method, you can adapt your STAR responses to meet an employer's job description. The STAR framework helps show you're equipped with the skills to get the job and makes your resume more interesting to read.
Negotiate A Higher Job Offer Salary With Levels.fyi
As a candidate, you want to increase your chances of getting the job by making your resume relevant to the job listing and answering interview questions in advance about your previous job experiences.
The STAR method applied to resumes can be a powerful way to catch the recruiter's attention. By placing your accomplishments within a fleshed-out context, you're making yourself an attractive, highly ambitious, and well-rounded candidate.
But, of course, crafting a compelling resume and acing your job interview is only one part of the process. If you need negotiating help to get a higher-paid job offer, Levels.fyi has a team of experienced recruiters to help you evaluate and negotiate higher job offers.