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.

Selection for the SES is granted primarily to candidates that are considered to already have executive experience. This would be the equivalent of corporate level managerial experience in the private sector, and GS-14 or -15 equivalents in strategic roles in the federal government. SES selectees lead continuing transformations in government and are required to possess well-honed executive level leadership skills, share a broad perspective of government service, and be able to step into nearly any agency to steer the helm of major programs or components. Still, most SES members are required to possess certain specialized technical skills.

The hiring agency reviews the applications and places candidates into three categories—top, middle, and bottom categories. Only candidates in the top and middle categories will be considered for an interview and job offer. Once the agency selects the candidate they wish to hire, the candidate must then pass muster with one of OPM’s Qualifications Review Boards (QRB.) Prior to selection, the agency will convene their Executive Resources Board (ERB), made up of agency executives. The ERB will review top candidates’ merits and forward the best qualified candidates to the selecting official for consideration, interviews, and reference checks. Once a tentative selection is made, the selectee’s package will be forwarded to the QRB for approval.

Not every package passes the QRB. Many of our clients are agency selectees who prepared their ECQ narratives without guidance or assistance, and had one or more of their ECQs rejected by the QRB. With our help, their second attempts were successful. You can avoid this by ensuring that you put forth the best quality package with your first submittal. Our writers are familiar with the priorities of the QRBs, and have proven techniques for matching your unique career achievements with the 28 ECQ competencies. We have a perfect track record, with 100% of our SES packages meeting QRB approval.

Traditional vs. Resume Based

There are essentially two types of SES applications—the Traditional Package and the Resume-based package.

The Traditional SES application requires a separate narrative for each of the five ECQs. Usually these narratives must not exceed two pages in length for each competency—10 pages in total for the full set of five. The Traditional Package also requires a full-length federal resume, and frequently, two or more MTQ narratives are also required.

The Resume-based package has a specified page limit (usually five pages) . In this instance, the ECQ competencies and any required TQs, must be incorporated into your resume. Although a resume only is required for the application, successful applicants will likely be asked to prepare a full set of ECQs prior to their final selection.

You can determine whether a position requires a Traditional or Resume Only application by carefully reading the “How to Apply” section of the vacancy announcement.

Solutions for the Workplace, LLC is experienced in preparing both types of applications.

Learn more about our SES Services.

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