One of the biggest mistakes federal job candidates make is failing to sell themselves through accomplishments. Some candidates believe that listing accomplishments is only done on résumés in the corporate world. Not true! Actually, a résumé for a position in the federal government must show your qualifications to warrant that you meet eligibility requirements. (In other words, you must demonstrate that you meet the basic job requirements.) On the other hand, a résumé for a corporate job’s purpose is to capture the interest of the human resources manager and compel them to invite you to an interview. The federal résumé has a higher standard to meet. You can meet that standard, if you count your lucky “STARs.” Simply use the “STAR” (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) method to describe your achievements.
Review the Job Announcement
Study the entire job announcement, including any questionnaires and KSA essay questions. Make a list of the specific requirements, including experience, knowledge, and education. Your résumé should show exactly how you meet those requirements. Reflect upon your career history and make notes of accomplishments that prove you meet those requirements.
Elements of a STAR Statement
For your accomplishment statement to achieve STAR status, you must go beyond your job description. Your job functions only tell a part of your story; a listing of your job functions does not prove that you are qualified. You must illustrate the results of your work. The impact of your contributions will demonstrate your skills. The STAR model is a behavioral model that describes your accomplishments in a way that validates your work strengths through examples of measured successes.
S – Describe the situation. What is the work setting? (Network operations center supporting 34,000 users spanning five states.)
T – Define the task. It could be a problem, an opportunity you identified, or a major project. (Project to update network hardware nearing end of life.)
A – What action did you take? (Analyzed virtualization solutions, selected hardware and software, led implementation and migration.)
R – What were the measured results of your effort? (Improved system performance 14% and decreased annual networking costs 37%.)
From STAR to Superstar
You are off to a great start when you draft a STAR statement. That is not enough though. Take that result one step further. What was the impact to the bottom line? Quantify a time savings, monetary savings, revenue increase, quality improvement, or service improvement. Those results are more compelling with dollar amounts, numbers, and percentages. Actual numbers are best, but if you don’t recall the precise number, an estimate will suffice.
The bottom line is that the onus is yours to prove you are qualified. Listing your job functions helps. To shine like a star, you must use the STAR method. Brainstorm to think about your key accomplishments. Thoroughly reflect upon your history to recall examples of how you improved operations, resolved a problem, or saved money. If you want a stellar résumé – one that really conveys your unique selling proposition (USP), take the time to share examples of your STARs and let your résumé work for you.