STAR Format
KSA Writing
By Richard P. Weiss
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KSA stands for Knowledge, Skills and Abilities; applicants need to address these qualities when answering requirements
listed on job vacancy announcements currently posted at the eCareer section of  Since eCareer
submissions require narratives that describe actions taken to resolve actual situations, the "STAR" format is still
recommended.  STAR stands for Situation and/or Task, Action, and Result.  Unlike the older 991 submissions that were
replaced by the eCareer process in 2008, more than one requirement may be addressed in each situational essay (see the
eCareer Instruction Guide).  As the Summary of Accomplishments section of the eCareer program limits the entire
section to 6000 characters, addressing multiple requirements within each of several essays becomes a necessity, and
excessive wordiness becomes a liability.  Applicants need to recall a situation or problem that they encountered, usually in a
work situation, that they had to act upon to produce a remedy and/or positive result.   These experiences do not necessarily
need to have taken place while working for the Postal Service.  Situations may have occurred while working for other
companies, civic groups, etc.  However, common sense would dictate that if you have worked for the Postal Service for 20
years, you shouldn't use a situation that occurred before your employment some 25 years ago.  Try to stick with Postal
examples whenever possible, and stay fairly current (within the past five years, if possible).  The important aspect of these
essays is to show that you possess the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to fill your desired position.

The following example demonstrates a STAR format essay that uses one situation to demonstrate knowledge, skills and
abilities regarding the following three requirements:

1. Knowledge of regulations, policies and procedures related to mailing requirements, business mail acceptance, mail
preparation, and business mail entry.
2. Knowledge of revenue protection programs and procedures.
5. Ability to communicate orally in order to answer customer inquiries and complaints regarding mailing procedures and

    My supervisor showed me a parcel that weighed 11 ounces, however markings on the postage area showed the piece had
been charged for only 6. When I noticed that the mail piece had been paid via a permit imprint account, I immediately knew,
through prior experience in dealing with manifest mailings, that postage was not due on the item. I had to explain my
rationale to my supervisor, so he wouldn't take action to acquire unfounded postage from our customer.
    Through prior experience as a Bulk Mail Technician, I knew that mail pieces, paid via a permit imprint account that
included piece weight markings, were accepted through the Manifest Mailing System (MMS). I suspected this piece had
already been a part of such a mailing. I verified my assertion by contacting the Business Mail Entry unit that handled the
entry of the mail piece in question. The unit's Mail Classification Clerk verified that additional postage had, in fact, already
been charged on the mailing that included the parcel my supervisor had questioned.
    I explained my findings to my supervisor, including the workings of the MMS process, and why additional postage had
already been paid on the mail piece we might have otherwise charged again, in error, to the parcel's recipient.

This essay clearly showcases knowledge, skills and abilities with regards to three requirements in only 1608 characters,
including the headings. Because eCareer limits total space for the Summary of Accomplishment section to about 5955
characters (advertised as 6000), addressing each requirement with a separate essay, as had been previously done on PS
Form 991, is no longer possible or practical. If essays the length of the above example were written for each requirement, a
job posting with nine requirements would take up 13,824 characters; over a half of the essays would be truncated by
eCareer! I have found that four situational essays averaging 1500 characters will maximize the amount of information you
can convey to reviewers within the 6000 character limitation of the eCareer program.

Here is the official guide, published by the Postal Service at
eCareer Instruction Guide