What Is the QRB and How Do They Affect My Application?

Do you believe you have what it takes to be a member of the Senior Executive Service? If you’re thinking about responding to an SES vacancy announcement, or if you’ve recently put in your application, you may have many questions concerning the application process, particularly when it comes to the Qualifications Review Board (QRB).

As you become more familiar with who, exactly, the QRB is and how they affect the status of your application, you’ll be better able to prepare yourself and successfully navigate the crucial last step of the application process.

What Is the Qualifications Review Board?

Before you can move into an SES job, you’ll need to obtain official certification of your leadership skills and integrity from a Qualifications Review Board. A QRB is an independent board administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). It consists of three existing SES members — each from a different agency — who volunteer to assess the executive core qualifications (ECQs) of each candidate.

A member of the OPM acts as each board’s QRB Administrator. Together, they complete a fair and objective review of each applicant to determine whether or not they possess the required ECQs to be considered an SES member. After the review, the QRB Administrator promotes a discussion between board members to reach a consensus concerning the applicant’s status.

The board judges each applicant based on five ECQs that encompass different leadership aspects — leading change, leading people, results driven, business acumen and building coalitions. Your compliance with these ECQs — determined by the QRB — is the primary selection criteria for entry into the SES.

After review, the agency determines the case type of each application to be submitted to the OPM. There are three types of QRB cases:

  • Criterion A: Candidates are considered under Criterion A if they have demonstrated sufficient executive experience in each of the five ECQs. Their overall accomplishments and professional experiences prove that they are qualified to handle SES duties.
  • Criterion B: Criterion B is earned when candidates complete an OPM-approved SES Candidate Development Program, which is used to identify potential executive leaders. These candidates are eligible for non-competitive placement into the SES, although completion does not guarantee an SES position.
  • Criterion C: Criterion C is a very rare case type given to candidates whose professional background would make them a good match for the SES position but who have not adequately demonstrated experience in all five ECQs. They must still have the potential to quickly acquire these competencies.

How Does the QRB Affect My Application?

Your QRB review is the last step in the SES selection process. The QRB will either review your answers to the five ECQs and approve or disapprove your application or send it back for resubmission if they find that you haven’t addressed the ECQs adequately. While approval doesn’t guarantee placement in the SES, it’s necessary for securing an SES position.

If your ECQs are approved, they’ll be certified by the OPM, and you’ll never have to submit them again. However, there are numerous reasons why your ECQs may be disapproved by the QRB, including the following:

  • You didn’t describe measurable results and exactly what you did to achieve these results.
  • You emphasized your technical expertise rather than your leadership abilities.
  • You didn’t present ECQs in a Content, Challenge, Action, Result (CCAR) model.
  • Your ECQ lacked evidence of creativity, strategic thinking or innovation.
  • You vaguely listed your beliefs or philosophies rather than measurable facts.

To get approval from the increasingly stringent requirements of the QRB, you’ll need to present recent, detailed and concrete examples of your leadership abilities using the CCAR format, genuinely showcasing your SES potential.

Contact SES Resume Writers for Help in the Application Process

If you’d like more information on how to set yourself apart during the SES application process or need help crafting or rewriting your ECQs, contact SES Resume Writers today. We offer the career coaching, interview prep and professional writing services you need to stand out as an ideal applicant and secure your dream position in the SES.

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