Federal Careers

By Nancy Segal

You may have seen the recent Executive Order (EO), Strengthening the Senior Executive Service, issued by the White House on December 15, 2015. What does this mean to you as a potential SES candidate?

The EO orders a number of reform action items over the next six months, and I believe these are the ones that potential SES candidates should note:

The Qualifications Review Board (QRB) process will be evaluated by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and new alternatives to the traditional 10-page Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ) submission may be deemed acceptable.

The SES application process may change. Heads of agencies are encouraged to simplify and shorten the initial application process, including only Technical Qualifications (also known as Mandatory Technical Qualifications and Professional Technical Qualifications) that are truly necessary for success. Look for more five-page (or similar) resume-only applications.

By May 31 of this year, agencies with 20 or more SES are expected to submit a plan to OPM for rotating SES members to improve talent development, mission delivery and collaboration. The goal is to rotate 15% of SES for at least 120 days.

If you are considering applying for the SES, what should you do?

Read SES job postings carefully. Agencies currently have three choices to hire: 1) traditional method (SES resume and a full set of ECQs; 2) resume-based [five page SES resume that includes demonstration of a candidate’s possession of ECQs and any technical qualifications (TQs)]; or 3) accomplishment record (SES resume and narratives addressing specific competencies underlying the ECQs and TQs; typically 5 competencies—one for each ECQ—are identified by an agency).

Keep track of your executive accomplishments; these include significant, strategic achievements that occurred over the past 10 years (past 5 years is better—you do not want reviewers of materials to think your best days are behind you!).

Monitor your numbers; metrics are important to give your work and achievements context. It’s one thing to say that you “lead people” stating that you “lead 350 diverse individuals” is much more powerful. You should maintain of list of how much, how often, and how many of everything.

Recognize that the ECQs are not dead. Even if a given SES application is resume-based, you may still have to complete ECQs (or some version of them) if you are selected.

Watch this space. I will be tracking changes to the SES process and will provide you with the information and assistance you’ll need to be successful in your SES application.

Nancy Segal is a federal career and job search expert. She is also the author of The Complete Guide to Writing a Federal Resume which is available at www.fedweek.com. Following her own senior-level federal HR career, she founded Solutions for the Workplace LLC to provide HR management perspective to astute applicants to U.S. government positions. Nancy is also one of our premier management and career development trainers for our online webinars.

If you have any questions for Nancy concerning your federal career or the federal job search process you can email her at fedcareer@fedweek.com.