Is a Candidate Development Program (CDP) Right for You?

April, 21, 2014

Are you a GS-14 or GS-15 who feels that the Senior Executive Service (SES) could be in your future?

If so, you might want to consider a CDP. You can find plenty of detailed information from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), but here’s the overall idea: Imagine stepping out of your normal career path and daily activities to participate in a 12-month program (sometimes longer) designed to enhance your leadership, scope of experience, and executive potential.

Although each person’s experience will be a little different, during a CDP, you can expect to receive personal mentoring, an Individual Development Plan (IDP), specialized training, and a developmental assignment.

At the end of your CDP, you’ll have an opportunity to develop your Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ) essays and submit them for OPM approval. Going through a CDP doesn’t guarantee you an SES position, but it can certainly give you a competitive advantage. Plus, if you are selected for an SES position at some point, you may already have a certified set of ECQs. So while all of your competition is still working to get ECQ approval, you will simply need to show proof of your ECQ certification.

CDPs aren’t always available, and they are coveted opportunities among many federal employees. Not surprisingly, they are also highly competitive. In terms of applying, the programs are advertised on USAJOBS just like any other position. Make sure you read the entire vacancy announcement and submit exactly what they ask for—nothing more and nothing less.

Although we’ve seen CDP announcements call for a full set of ECQs just to apply, that is rarely the case. Usually, they require you to submit what we’ve coined a “5-Page All-Inclusive Resume.” This is simply a resume focusing on the past 10 years of your career that shows your executive potential.

Most importantly, these submissions require you to demonstrate your experience and potential in each ECQ category: Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, and Building Coalitions. So, if a CDP is something that interests you, it’s a good idea to start thinking about (and actively seeking) career experience in each of these categories.

Lee Kelley is an Iraq war veteran and former Army Captain who now serves as the senior writer on CareerPro Global’s writing team. Leveraging the company’s vast expertise in assisting thousands of SES and federal job seekers, Lee has personally developed hundreds of resumes and more than a thousand ECQs. He is also the Director of Training and Veteran Transitions, and has provided USAJOBS resume-writing workshops to hundreds of federal employees and our military. In addition, Lee is an author and executive coach. He co-authored the book Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service: How to Find SES Jobs, Determine Your Qualifications, and Develop Your SES Application. His latest book is titled Inside Marine One: Four U.S. Presidents, One Proud Marine, and the World’s Most Amazing Helicopter.

Learn More About Candidate Development Program

Add A Comment