A STAR-ing role – the use of STAR in CVs

, ,

There are many different ways to approach writing a CV and in some respects, it depends on your own strengths as to which road you go down. One popular method of CV collation is the use of STAR in CVs. This way allows you to demonstrate your practical aptitude for the role, with examples of how you have surmounted challenges and approached your work in similar arenas in the past.

STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action and Result, a process that can also be used to answer interview questions about past employment. In this way, an initial situation can be seen to have a positive outcome, with the process explaining how the goal was reached. It’s a great way to show what you are capable of and how you have used your skillset in specific situations.

A STAR is born

The four-part process can easily be applied to CV writing. Before you begin, look at the job description and the requirements the potential employer is looking for. Think about how well suited you are to the role and see whether your CV can be tweaked to show your skills for the role. Think too about instances in your own career where you have shined. Instances that show how you have used your key skills, intuition and experience to address challenges that would be applicable in the role you are seeking.

Then use the STAR methodology in the skills section of your CV. Choose three or four key skills that are essential to the role that you’d like to showcase and create some written responses around them in the STAR style – imagine you’re answering interview questions about yourself and write your responses down. So instead of simply listing out your skills in the workplace, you create a series of bullet points, with illustrative examples.

Applying the science

As you write your career history in your CV, rather than just reiterating your previous job descriptions – use your SITUATION (your role and its part in the wider team/company).

Then choose a TASK or series of tasks you carried out in that role that demonstrate what your role consisted of – for example a large project you headed-up, or an initiative you introduced.

You can then elaborate with the specific ACTION you took during the process. This will highlight your input and how your steered the project, or managed a team, or contributed to the design, or however you worked within the remit.

Finally, demonstrate your ability with the RESULT and show how you contributed to the positive outcome. This can be carried out for each of your former jobs, where pertinent experience to the application can be demonstrated. It’s particularly important to qualify as much as possible the benefits to the organisation that your examples have given.  For example, did the task you performed increase sales, efficiencies, profitability, staff engagement?  Can you quote figures and percentages?

A practical approach

Many applicants find that STAR allows them to demonstrate their value in real terms, in real-life situations. It also allows you to go into a few specifics of detail, with the context of the details clearly outlined – for example, rather than simply noting ‘good team worker’ demonstrate how you work well within a team.

If you think this practical approach may be beneficial to you, have a go yourself. Choose one of your past job situations and create a STAR analysis of the salient points where you were successful in the role, following the STAR subheadings process. Candidates using the STAR method find this linear approach gives them focus and structure when pulling their CV together, to create a body of writing that both reflects their experiences but will also be attractive to potential employers.

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

Sharing advice

, ,

I was recently asked to contribute to a local business magazine called VOX about the best piece of advice I could share with other business owners. It got me thinking about all the great advice I have been given – or shared – over the years since I set up my business over a decade ago.

I certainly had a wealth of insight to choose from, but what I shared with the magazine was the following:

“Create and develop your business through building great relationships, be authentic and deal with like-minded people. People don’t like to be ‘sold’ to. Your product or service will sell itself at the right time, to the right client if they know and trust you.”

In this instance I was limited to a word count, but my quote felt like good advice and something I have kept in mind throughout my time running Career Evolution. However, I would also have liked to add, that sometimes, the right thing to do, is to turn business away.  To any business – young or old – out there, this sounds anathema, but it is sound advice as it is imperative that you remain true to your service and its value, and you work with people and businesses where you can add real value and the benefits are mutual.

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

Setting up office – the hybrid model

, , , ,

In many instances, the ‘hybrid’ model has emerged as the most prevalent way of working, if your role has been traditionally office-based. This involves a merging of working from home and working in the office, with specific days allotted to both each week. It has been welcomed by many as allowing staff a much great degree of work-life balance, and the flexibility of the system can help things like commute times and fuel consumption. But it can also become a headache for managers, when they are left in the dark as to who is working where, and when.

A structured approach

Which days are worked in each location can be a flexible arrangement – with days decided on a week-on-week basis – or it can have more structure. The structured approach can be more important in larger firms, where organisation for access to the building and to desk space may require greater thought – especially if social distancing measures are needed occasionally, due to employee numbers. This can be especially true of health locations, such as GP’s surgeries or consultancies, where there is a degree of mixing between office-based staff and the general public.

Time and Space

The ‘new’ hybrid working method, which for some savvy workers has already been part of their work routine for many years, has impacted businesses in all kinds of ways. It’s made managers think about their office space, their best use of their resources and if indeed the same degree of office space is needed. Staff can be allotted certain days to be in the office, to log into a specialist computer system for example, that they cannot access at home, but these visits can be scheduled not to overlap with other staff. In this way, a more ‘hot desk’ approach may work best – with desk space used by many individuals, with no set ‘placements’. Of course, this will lead to an end of the personalised desk tradition, but will perhaps result in tidier offices.

Making connections

Working from home necessitates a much more coherent approach to technology across businesses too. With everyone familiar with online meeting tools and platforms, it’s easy to keep in touch with staff, whilst also allowing them the freedom to work at home, managing their own workloads, at their own pace. Of course, some general rules still apply – such as working hours and the times of day you’re getting you work done. There’s no point working until three in the morning if your job requires you to interact with other businesses in normal working hours on UK time.

Virtually working anywhere

Often the hybrid model has not only seen an increase in productivity, but also an unconscious increase in working hours. Closing the door to the office on a Friday for the weekend can be difficult, if the ‘office’ is also your kitchen or lounge. On the whole however, the hybrid model has been welcomed in most quarters and when it works, it works very well indeed. There needs to be a degree of trust and faith on both sides – both managers and employees – but as long as the safeguards are in place, the hybrid model is well and truly here to stay.

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

Top tips for acing that interview

, ,

An interview for a new role is almost as likely to be carried out remotely, as it is to be a face-to-face affair these days. However, whichever it is there are still things you can do – or be aware of – to help ensure that you make a positive impression on the interviewer.

Do your homework

Time on research into the company you are being interviewed by, and the job role you are going for, is time well spent. Not only is it useful insight to help you prepare for the interview, but it should also give you an indication as to whether it’s the type of business you would like to work for. Make a note of some questions you would like to ask about the business in your interview, as it shows that you have taken the time to find out about the company and are genuinely interested in the role and what you can bring to it. Also have a think about how your experience and background can be of benefit to the business. If you can show transferable skills or a knowledge of the industry, these will all help your case.

Be prepared

If the interview is taking place in person, make sure you know how you will get to the interview in advance. Whether you need to use public transport or are planning on driving to the interview, make sure you allow yourself enough time to arrive in plenty of time. Bear in mind the time of day you will be travelling and factor in rush-hour traffic if necessary. If your interview is online, make sure that you are set up in plenty of time in a quiet location, and have checked that your equipment – microphone and camera in particular – is all working correctly.

Linking up

If you are given your interviewer’s name before the interview, it is well worth looking them up on LinkedIn to see who you will be meeting. While they might not appreciate an invite request from a potential candidate, most people will appreciate knowing you have bothered to find out about them in advance.

Dressing up, dressing down

The issue of what to wear is a sticking point for many people. Dress code in the workplace is possibly harder now than it ever has been. Many companies these days go for a far more informal dress code than they have done in the past and employees are, if not encouraged to express themselves through their choice of clothes, certainly not penalised for doing so. However, at the interview stage, in most cases it is still advisable to dress smartly, even if the ‘uniform’ will ultimately be jeans and trainers.

Don’t freeze

It can happen to any of us at any time, your brain goes blank, and it can be a struggle to remember your name, let alone answer a question. If it happens during an interview, don’t panic. Take a breath and ask the interviewer to repeat the question. If you need a few moments of thinking time, that is OK too – unless of course the question is ‘what is your name?’!

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.

Dropped out of what?

, ,

I hugely dislike the term ‘dropped out’.  Whilst my outplacement work is largely with people who are established in their careers rather than students and young people, I hear a lot of stories about career ‘non-choices’ based on parents’ expectations and yes, sometimes real pressure.

When a young person finds they don’t like their degree course and decide to leave it, we often use terms like, ‘they dropped out of university’.  No, they didn’t ‘drop out’, they made a choice to change direction.

I had endless good-natured debates with my youngest during their school years. They were a classic scientist, whilst my love has always been languages.  We respected each other’s passions, diverse as they were.

They started a degree in Physics and Astrophysics.  They really started to dislike it and we’re not even going to start blaming remote learning because of the pandemic.  I wouldn’t capitulate easily and as they were in their second year, I felt that they should just ride their feelings out and get on with it.  It wasn’t happening though, and I could sense a change in personality.  They wanted to change to a degree in Illustration.  This total switch from science to arts was beyond me, but they demonstrated to the university that this was the right choice for them and started their new course in September (giving them two freshers’ years which I joked was possibly an incentive).

The university did two things which were hugely supportive. The first was that the Head of Illustration said she would be interested to see what their physics learnings would bring to their work. Secondly, they received a certificate for their first year’s studies in Physics and Astrophysics.  All in all, lots of learning, with some pain and concern on all parts, but overall – so positive.  Some people would call it dropping out…

(permission given by Alex to post this).

Speak to our team if you are in need of our services.