The Senior Executive Service (SES) is a group of federal employees who serve at the top levels of the U.S. government. These individuals fill federal managerial, supervisory, and policy positions above GS-15 that are not filled by presidential appointment. In order to be considered for these positions, an individual must submit an SES resume to be reviewed by an independent Qualifications Review Board who evaluates it utilizing criteria established by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
The majority of SES positions are filled by those already in government service often for 5 or more continuous years. Further, previous leadership often at a specified series and grade is required. Therefore, most applicants requiring an SES resume have a basic federal resume to build from. However, for SES positions, it is crucial to ensure that leadership and supervisory skill is demonstrated. Therefore, it is important to revise and adjust a federal resume to reflect these attributes and skills from previous positions. The most effective manner in which to demonstrate this information is to provide a situation or example, describe the problem you faced in the situation, and then how you resolved it. Utilize key words from the job announcement to ensure that the examples in your resume meet the qualifications for the position. Anticipate your resume to be long – on average 3 to 5 pages.
Once your federal resume is updated, an addendum that addresses the “Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ’s)” must be attached. Successful candidates must demonstrate their competency in each of these five executive skill areas. The five basic ECQ’s are:
1. Leading Change
2. Leading People
3. Results Driven
4. Business Acumen
5. Building Coalitions
These ECQ’s are further broken down into 22 competencies that have been identified as needed to successfully perform in these federal positions. Additionally, there are 6 additional overall competencies that are designated as important to all five ECQs. These competencies are interpersonal skills, oral communication, integrity/honesty, written communication, continual learning, and public service motivation.
While each ECQ statement covers a separate ECQ, the competencies that are applicable to all can be addressed in general terms as warranted in the statements. The overall main focus of these ECQs is leadership and these statements should reflect this fact.
Similarly to creating content for your resume, ECQs should follow a format in which an applicant describes the situation and its context, explains the action taken to address it, and then provides the result of the action taken. Each ECQ statement should contain at least one specific job related example from the last 10 years that integrates the competencies that are linked to it. As applicable, highlight awards and recognition, volunteer experience, and training that are related to the ECQ. Finally, each ECQ statement is typically a page to a page and a half.
Together an applicant’s resume and ECQs should demonstrate the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed in federal leadership role. Ultimately those tasked with filling SES roles are seeking applicants who can foster a culture that is results driven, customer oriented, and capable of creating successful teams inside and outside an organization.
Jason Kay is a professional resume writer and provides guidance with federal job applications. He contributes to career magazines and websites such as KSADoctor.com, which provides SES resume writing services and ECQ samples.