Applying for Senior Executive Service positions is easy…right?

May, 24, 2016

Finding Senior Executive Service (SES) positions on USAJOBS is easy. In fact, there’s nothing to it; just click on the link and hundreds of positions are instantly at your fingertips. Applying for a position is a much different story. However, it’s not impossible—as long as you qualify and can document those qualifications.

Most SES positions require three things: An SES Federal Resume; narrative responses to Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs); and responses to Technical Qualifications (TQs), Mandatory Technical Qualifications (MTQs), and Desirable Qualifications (DQs).

1.  SES Federal Resume

The Federal Resume is different from any other resume and the SES Federal Resume can be intimidating. There is more information on this type of resume and keywords are critical when completing it. The Federal Resume doesn’t require a cover letter, either. In fact, a machine is the first “person” to see your resume and the machine doesn’t care about anything else. You’ll even be interrupted mid-application if you’re considered not qualified for the position that you’re applying for…no questions asked.

2.  ECQ Narrative Responses

If you’re new to the Senior Executive Service, then Executive Core Qualifications are a mandatory part of your application. ECQs describe your executive experience and how you qualify. There are five ECQs in the SES and applicants must provide a narrative for each one.

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

Remember, these are mandatory for a first-time applicant.

  1. TQs, MTQs, DQs

In addition to ECQs, some SES positions require additional technical qualifications. You must provide a narrative response for each requirement. If you don’t take the time and effort to provide detailed responses, you will automatically be considered ineligible and not be considered.

The SES lives on USAJOBS and if you look right now, there are some pretty interesting and high-profile positions available.

Let’s take a look at a few examples:



Naval Air Systems Command

This one is intriguing as it deals with the procurement of various weapons systems. Here is an example of the duties:

  • “Incumbent is responsible for acquisition oversight and life cycle support for major strike weapons programs (ACAT I-IV), such as Tomahawk Cruise Missile and its mission planning and execution systems, Joint Standoff Weapon, Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Program, and Harpoon and Long Range Anti-Ship missiles.”
  1. Ability to plan and direct the technical and business aspects of complex major weapons acquisition programs.
  2. Knowledge of the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System.
  3. Knowledge of major systems acquisition process. Knowledge of and ability to integrate DOD and DON systems acquisition policy and operations.
  4. Knowledge of business and financial management systems and principles and ability to apply leadership techniques.


Secretary of the Navy/Assistant for Administration (DON/AA)

If you’re like my wife and a fan of “NCIS” (or a fan of Mark Harmon) on CBS Tuesday nights, then you can likely relate to this position. However, relating to it isn’t enough to win the job; you need to meet the requirements.

For example:

  • “Serves as the principal advisor to the Director and Deputy Director, NCIS and the Naval Intelligence (NAVINTEL) Enterprise on all matters relating to NCIS counterintelligence (CI), counterterrorism (CT), and criminal (CRIM) intelligence analysis. Serves as the primary, embedded relationship manager for all matters related to joint NCIS-NMIC analytical mission management.”

And that’s just the beginning. In addition to MTQs, you will also need to provide narrative responses to SENIOR OFFICER CORE QUALIFICATIONS (SOCQs).

Here is a brief example of an SOCQ:

“(a) Understand the roles, missions, capabilities, and organizational and political realities of the intelligence enterprise; apply that understanding to drive joint, interagency, or multi-organizational mission accomplishment.

(b) Understand how organizations, resources, information, and processes within the IC or interagency/multi-organizational environment interact with and influence one another; apply that understanding to solve complex interagency or multi-organizational problems.”



Ames Research Center

I have to admit, this job at NASA sounds fascinating. Take a look:

“As the Deputy Director for Aeronautics, in collaboration with the Director the incumbent plans, directs, and coordinates technology research and development, as well as operational activities of the Directorate. The Directorate develops and delivers technology research including advanced aviation system development, advanced aircraft projects, airspace systems projects, vehicle systems projects, wind tunnels, flight vehicle research and technology, aviation safety and security, aerospace operations modeling, flight deck integration and research.”

ECQs and TQs are required here, as well.

Check out more federal jobs here:



So there you have it—three positions in the SES and all of them close soon so you need to get moving if you plan to apply.

If you do plan to apply and not sure how to answer the ECQ’s, MTQs, TQs, and DQs, and even the SOCQs then you may want to enlist the help of someone who knows the SES forward and backward.

SES Resume Writers are available to assist you with the application process. These positions don’t leave you much time to complete the process, as it can be quite involved. A five-page Federal Resume and the ECQ narratives can run close to 20 pages and can be extremely time-consuming.

Our SES writers have done thousands of federal applications and ECQ narratives, and they can guide you every step of the way. In fact, two of our expert writers actually wrote the book on the Senior Executive Service and can provide you with the roadmap for your SES career.


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