Writing a Federal Resume Using the SAR Method

The process of writing a good resumé or information essay (also known as KSAs) is best started by doing your own self-assessment.  You will be using feedback you have received from a variety of sources including your last appraisal, your supervisor’s and co-worker’s comments, and communications from your customers both internal and external.  This self-assessment phase is your first opportunity to begin writing powerful statements about your performance, in other words, your accomplishments.  An activity is an accomplishment if you:

  •  Improved operations by making things easier or better
  •  Resolved a problem/situation with little or no increase in time, dollars, people, etc.
  •  Effectively acted as a liaison between departments which helped to make things run more efficiently
  •  Produced reports/data that enabled management to make more informed decisions
  •  Identified the results of your work efforts in terms of contributions, impact and skills

Using a behavioral model to describe your accomplishments will help you clarify your work strengths and successes and increase your awareness of your marketable skills.  Writing down your accomplishments helps identify skills, talents, capabilities and your potential for solving problems.  Your past accomplishments play an important role in convincing a selecting official that you can use these skills to be successful in a new position.

Situation you faced

Action you took 

Result(s) of your effort 


SITUATION: new administrative personnel need training in local office procedures

ACTION: create training module

RESULT: efficient administrative team

  •  Put your accomplishments into a sentence(s). Writing the sentence is important to:
    •  Communicate that you demonstrate the required skills and knowledge
    •  Show how your skills and abilities can make a positive contribution to a new position
  •  Use action verbs.  Begin to write the answers to the S-A-R into sentences using action verbs.
  • Select verbs that best capture the action described in “the action you took” and “the result of your effort.”  Be specific.
  •  Use “I” statements to clearly describe your accomplishments.  When describing work on a team or in a group, describe your personal actions as part of the team and results you contributed.
  •  Quantify whenever possible – use numbers and data points to illustrate success  Edit to reduce fluff and make every word count.
  •  Check for misspellings and typographical errors
  •  Ensure all required information listed under the “How to Apply” section of the announcement is complete.


SITUATION: During my time as a recruiter, I noticed that attendance at our community events had dropped off by 30% over the past 3 years.

ACTION: I designed a new promotional packet to go out to the local community businesses. I also included a rating sheet to collect feedback on our events and organized internal round table discussions to raise awareness of the issue with our employees.

RESULT: I used some of the great ideas we received from the community, improved the efficiency and visibility of our marketing strategy which raised attendance by 18% the first year.


To solve a problem with document flow, I encouraged creative thinking from my work team. They proposed a solution which resolved the problem and increased productivity by 20%.

Sample Resume:

Jane Doe

111 Narrow Street

Any Town, CA 92655

Home: (619) XXX-XXX

J. W. Associate, LLC                                                                        02/1997 to Present

2222 Avila road, Suite 333                                                             $69,000 per year

Laguna Niguel, CA  92677                                                               40 hours per week

Contact: Shirley Gonzalez (Manager)

(949) 360-XXXX

Executive Assistant – Prepare proposals, manuscripts and reports; draft executive level documents and key correspondence.  Administer telecommunications, travel and calendars for three executives.  Lead support staff and develop employee training to facilitate understanding of roles and responsibilities within the organization.  Results include positive teamwork among employees and their active participation in developing process improvements.

Coordinate projects and events exercising ability to improvise, improve procedures and meet demanding deadlines.  Plan and coordinate corporate luncheons, and develop presentations for related on-site and off-site meetings.  Manage capital purchases, direct vendor relations, generate and maintain equipment tracking records.  Create Standard Operating Procedures that are used by all support staff for cross-training purposes and as back-up when designated employees are not available.  This reduced backlog of records by 80%.