Are You SES Ready?

I hear from potential clients all the time who ask about preparing a package for the Senior Executive Service (SES). In some cases, people currently serving in grades 9, 11, and 12, or those transitioning from the military at Master Sergeant and Chief Warrant Officer levels, reach out, seeking SES positions. Unfortunately, far too many times, I have to tell these and other people that they are not ready for the SES. [Read more…]

Senior Executive Service (SES) Candidate Development Programs: A Great Way to Prepare

Many agencies use Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program (SESCDP) as one tool to identify and prepare aspiring senior executive leaders. SESCDPs are highly competitive programs designed to further develop SES candidates’ competencies in each of the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs). Most agencies receive 500-1,000 applications in response to their SESCDP postings.

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What is the Senior Executive Service (SES) Qualifications Review Board (QRB) and How Does it Work?

Qualifications Review Boards (QRBs) are Office of Personnel Management (OPM)-administered independent boards consisting of senior executive service members who assess the executive core qualifications (ECQs) of SES candidates. All SES candidates must have their executive qualifications certified by an independent QRB before being appointed as career members of the SES. The QRB review and certification is the last critical step in the SES selection process. QRBs certify that an SES candidate possesses broad leadership skills and demonstrated experience in Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, and Building Coalitions. The experience must be relatively recent and at the executive level (typically the grade 15 in federal service or equivalent private sector experience).

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What do You Know about the Senior Executive Service (SES)?

The Senior Executive Service (SES) is the highest civilian service in the government. Membership in the SES demands leadership, professional integrity, a broad perspective, and a commitment to the highest ideals of public service.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) administers the SES program which was created by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. Applying for the SES is a multi-level process that requires demonstration of a candidate’s executive core qualifications or ECQs.

The ECQs were identified after extensive research into the leadership attributes of successful executives across the government and private sectors. ECQs include leading change, leading people, results driven, business acumen, and building coalitions. These competencies are used to test potential candidates on the needed leadership qualifications to be an executive in today’s civil service. [Read more…]

Preparing for the Senior Executive Service (SES): Candidate Development Programs (CDPs)

2014 saw many agencies announce Candidate Development Programs (CDPs). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), the Bureau of the Mint, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) were among the agencies that did so. CDPs are an excellent opportunity for those interested in considering future SES opportunities.

Agencies use CDPs as a succession planning tool to identify and prepare aspiring senior leaders by developing competencies in each of the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs)—leading change, leading people, results driven, business acumen, and building coalitions. While completion of a CDP does not guarantee selection into the SES (nor is it required), graduates of CDPs who have their ECQs certified by an Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Qualification Review Board (QRB) may be selected for a SES position without further completion. [Read more…]

Thinking about the Senior Executive Service (SES)

Before applying for a Senior Executive Service (SES) position, it is important to assess whether you have the qualifications for and genuine interest in becoming a member of the Senior Executive Service. Being a member of the SES involves much more than just meeting time-in-grade requirements.

In order to be eligible for the Senior Executive Service (SES), you must meet time-in-grade requirements and be able to demonstrate your possession of OPM’s five executive core qualifications (ECQs): Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, and Building Coalitions. Qualifying for the SES is about more than proving your managerial capabilities—it is about true leadership.

Not everyone wants to be a leader—many are comfortable remaining as a manager, and others like being an individual contributor without responsibility for supervising, managing, or leading people. What is the difference between being a manager and a leader? [Read more…]

SES Application & Selection

First and foremost, a successful SES application will demonstrate that you possess the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) which serve as the leadership competencies for all SES positions.

The ECQs are:

  • Leading Change
  • Leading People
  • Results Driven
  • Business Acumen
  • Building Coalitions

In addition to the 5 ECQs, there are 28 sub-competencies to the ECQs including everything from Accountability to Political Savvy. The full set of ECQ definitions and sub-competencies can be viewed here. Most ECQs narratives are 10 pages long (2 pages per ECQ); the Office of Personnel Management has set font and margin size requirements as well as page limits, and recommends a specific rubric for preparing ECQ statements.

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