Federal Careers

SES resume | ask.fedweek.com

While you are probably familiar with writing a resume, writing your SES resume is somewhat different. Not only must your resume include the required information for federal resumes, it must also show your executive-level experience and accomplishments. Typically grade 15 work (and sometimes grade 14, depending on the specific position) meets the basic qualifications requirement; therefore, your resume should focus on your highest-level work—there is no need to focus on earlier work experience – most resumes only go back about 10 years or so. In addition, like with other resumes, your executive resume should include the key words from announcement, as well as the five Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ), and as many of the sub-competencies as possible, in addition to the key words from technical qualifications.

Before starting to put your resume together, you should carefully review the job posting, especially the technical qualifications (TQs; also known as Professional Technical Qualifications or Mandatory Technical Qualifications). If you cannot provide specific examples of when you demonstrated each of the TQs, you should probably pick another announcement.


Additionally, you should carefully check the “how to apply” section of the announcement for any special requirements, such as a transcript, performance evaluation, supervisory endorsement, references, or something similar. You do not want to be applying at 11:59 PM on the closing date and find that you are lacking a critical document! Finally, you should carefully check the announcement to determine any character limits, font sizes, or application requirements (such as no uploaded resumes) before you start writing.

An executive resume typically includes several parts:

  • Executive Qualifications
  • Executive Experience and Achievements
  • Professional Leadership Development
  • Awards and Honors
  • Professional Presentations and/or Publications
  • Relevant Certifications and/or Licenses
  • Education

This is a lot of content; in most instances, your federal executive resume will be five or six pages. While this may sound long, it is important to remember that from a Human Resources (HR) review perspective, if it is not on your resume, you did not do it. So, a traditional two-page resume will rarely get your application in front of the agency Executive Resources Board (ERB).

Many agencies are restricting SES resumes to 5 pages. In these situations, many agencies are considering the resume as the entire application; in this case it is critical that you demonstrate your executive leadership through your resume. This means focusing on the language of the ECQs in addition to your technical qualifications. Do not rely on your resume “passing” because you are already in the agency. Throughout your resume, be sure to include metrics to give your work context (how many people do you lead? What is your budget? Etc.) and accomplishments to demonstrate that you can achieve results.

In addition to the above-mentioned parts, be sure to include all required information such as your title, job series, and grade, name of your supervisor, etc. Check the announcement to see if your Social Security Number is required (or prohibited). You do not want to be disqualified for failing to follow the rules.

Since veterans’ preference is not a consideration in the SES, this is less important in your executive resume. However, if you have military leadership experience at a high level (typically Colonel or above), you may want to include it in your SES resume.