Business acronyms get a lot of bad press as they can be overused and misused. While some of this bad press is deserved, much of it is undeserved in my opinion, as certain acronyms can be very helpful, because they allow a person to easily recall complex behaviors that are proven to be effective in challenging situations.
Having fought the corner for acronyms, I’d like to outline three of the most powerful and enabling acronyms for candidates to use when facing difficult job search situations.
1. STAR: for facing tough behavioral questioning
You probably already know how tough it can be when you are required to answer behavioral questions where you need to give prior examples to demonstrate your skills. In this situation, don’t panic;rather rely on the STAR answering technique (Situation Task Action Result), and respond following this proven format for best effect. For example:
Situation: Describe the business environment, e.g. the company, department, etc.
Task: Explain the overall project and your job/role
Action: Describe what action you took to help complete the task or solve the problem
Result: Describe the impact and result of your actions, which should ideally be positive.
If you follow this STAR acronym when answering behavioral questions, you will provide more effective and persuasive answers than if you don’t. Simple.
2. SMART: for describing achievements or accomplishments
You may need to describe your achievements in your resume or you may be asked to do this directly at interview. Don’t respond according to first principles; the most effective way to describe achievements is according to SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound.
When describing an achievement, don’t just say, “I performed well as a manager;” follow SMART and say something along the lines of, “I led the finance team for four years, during which time I completed all the appraisals for each team member. During this period, three of my team members were promoted to higher positions. Also, team satisfaction scores and morale were high, and involuntary turnover was below industry averages.”
3. AIDA: for writing cover letters
The AIDA acronym stands for Attention Interest Desire Action. The most compelling way to write any sales and marketing letter, i.e. a cover letter, is to follow the AIDA format. When writing it, make sure to grab the reader’s attention in the opening statement by mentioning something notable to the reader, such as you were referred by the chief executive of the company. Build interest in the middle part of the letter by matching your key skills to their key requirements. Create desire by showing them what differentiates you from the rest, so they believe you are a scarce commodity. And finally, include a call-to-action such as, you would like to meet them to showcase your key skills, or refer them to an online presentation you have made, which further show cases your skills.
Good luck with the job hunt!