Resume Writing 101: SPAR, STAR, CAR or PAR

Let’s start with some good news; unemployment in the U.S. is down and according to some pundits employment opportunities for the upcoming year are on the rise. So, whether you’re employed, unemployed, underemployed, or in the process of changing careers the first few weeks of 2013 is the time to review what you’ve accomplished in 2012 and update your resume accordingly. This way you’ll be fully prepared for your job search and/or annual review and how to interview for desirable employment opportunities that come your way.

There is no shortage of advice on resume writing, and each adviser has his/her own opinion on what a resume that will peak the interest of ATS and human decision makers alike. Nonetheless there’s one aspect of writing a winning resume that professional writers unanimously agree on; the crux of a resume is your accomplishments. That said, a question I am frequently asked is “How do I identify my achievements and accomplishments?”

The answer is simple. You use a technique alternately called SPAR, CAR or PAR.

First you need to list Situations and/or Projects you have been involved in, Challenges or Crises you have faced and Problems that occurred you solved on the job, and if you are in a position where you have been assigned a defined goal you need to list these as well.

Next, delve into each item on the list and detail your actions in each case. How did your actions make money, save money, or reduce cost for the company. What ideas or innovations did you suggest or implement. What awards and commendations did you receive and why?  As a way of knowing what areas of your job you need to concentrate on look at your job description, or that of the jobs you are applying for, and see what is expected in the role and concentrate on these points.

Finally, you want to qualify and quantify the results of your actions in each case, wherever possible in terms of dollars, percent’s and how your actions affected the bottom line.

No matter the name people use to describe these exercises they are the best way to identify your achievements and accomplishments on the job. The hard part comes next; knowing which accomplishments to include in your resume and the best way to word them.

STAR is also a favored way to respond to questions posed to you during an interview, so I suggest you use this exercise to anticipate questions you will be asked on a job interview and practice your response.

Situation: Be prepared to present a recent challenge and situation in which you found yourself in that is similar to one you may face on the job you are interviewing for.

Task: Know exactly what you were expected to achieve on the job, or on a given project or assignment.

Action: What did you do? The interviewer is interested in hearing about what course of action you took in this situation, why did you chose to take this approach, and what alternatives were available to you that you passed on.

Results: This is the focal point of your answer. Tell the interviewer the outcome of your actions; what exactly did you achieve and did you meet or exceed your objectives. Also you may want to include what you learned from this experience and how it will impact your decision making in the future.

As always I am available to review your resume at no cost for you if you email it to

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