Thursday, May 8, 2014


One of the things we talked about in our resume-writing class was the importance of STAR-type statements. You  know, "S"ituation - "T"ask - "A"ction - "R"esult. What was amusing was that the briefer spoke of these as though he thought they would be a new concept to us.  Clearly he'd never written an Air Force performance report.

STAR statements are the backbone of the Air Force performance report. We don't call them that, though. We just call them "bullets," as in "bullet points." And space is limited, too. I only have about 25 lines to summarize a person's performance over the last year, each one a bullet representing a specific achievement. I can't just come out and review the performance like I wish I could:

"Joe is an outstanding mechanic who always comes to work on time and does his best. He's the most reliable person here, and knows everything about everything we do. He should be promoted immediately!

Oh, if only it were that easy. Since it isn't, I have to translate that statement into a list of the wonderful things Joe's done this year: And I have to use the very specific format of  "Accomplishment; result--impact" (without the quotation marks, but WITH the mandatory semicolon and double-dash)

My nice straightforward summary above gets transformed into this:

Repaired 25 school bus engines; maintained the entire fleet at top readiness--pivotal to the success of section's mission

Which, due to space constraints, has to be whittled down to something like:

Fixed 25 bus motors; maintained rdyness of fleet--pivotal to msn success

Now comes the really hard part. All writers have editors, and there's no exception here. My carefully crafted bullet statement now has to go to my boss. I don't mind edits-- wait. Yes I do. All writers do. But we live with them; they come with the territory. And here they come:

Repaired 25 bus motors, kept flt at top rdyness--key to msn accomplishment

Then HIS boss looks at it, and she prefers this:

Maintained 25 bus engines; flt kept in top shape--guaranteed msn success

Then her boss will look at it, and he likes this better:

Fixed 25 bus engines; maintained fleet readiness--key to msn success

Then his boss will ask,

"How exactly was he key to mission success? Was the fleet 100% ready at all times, or do you mean we met tasks even if we had some broken buses? Did he fix them by himself or did he have a helper? Did he really fix all 25 engines, or did he just do maintenance on some?"

And there are some 20+ lines on the form, in 6 very specific categories. If ol' Joe up there volunteered babysitting sick puppies, there's a section for it. If he took college classes, there's a section for that. It just goes on and on. Oh, and I have to adjust these because the bullet has to fit exactly on the line. No "white space" at the end allowed... OK, maybe one space. So "deployed" becomes "deply'd" and "established" becomes "estab'd" (or worse, "estblshd").

Were all of those edits substantive? No. Were they necessary? No. Did I make the changes? You bet I did, because you write what the client (boss) wants, the way she wants it.

It's annual performance review, Twitter-style. 

STAR statements are nothing compared to these. At least on my resume I don't have to keep the statements shorter than 64 characters, so I don't have to use asinine abbreviations. Better yet, since they're all about me, I can say what I mean. 

I do have to ask someone to read them over for stupidity, though. Thanks, Susie!

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