Five Most Common SES Resume Mistakes to Avoid

April, 16, 2019

Success when applying for an SES position requires preparation and precision. Most applicants have the leadership skills necessary to excel in an executive role, but few know how to tailor their skills and experiences to stand out as a desirable applicant. Fortunately, you can learn a lot from others’ mistakes. Here are five of the most common SES resume mistakes and how you can avoid them when applying for federal jobs.

1. Not Displaying Core Competencies

The five Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) set apart the most competent candidates for SES positions. Effectively demonstrating these core competencies through storytelling can make all the difference in whether a hiring manager will consider your application. However, many otherwise qualified candidates fail to showcase their abilities clearly and thoroughly.

To demonstrate your ability to meet the federal ECQs, you should:

  • Connect each ECQ to your personal experiences using first-person point-of-view
  • Write each accomplishment using statements with a “challenge, context, action and result” structure
  • Ensure you evolve your story reflecting the required competencies
  • Show your competencies through strong action verbs

2. Not Showing Leadership Skills

Leadership composes two of the five ECQs, making it one of the most critical components of a successful resume. Leadership skills aren’t just recommended when applying for federal jobs — they’re a requirement for success in an SES position.

Demonstrating outstanding leadership on your SES resume is crucial for consideration. To optimize your resume to showcase your leadership abilities, you should:

  • Provide specific examples and results using active voice
  • Detail the measurable outcomes of each example
  • Scatter leadership-based words throughout your resume — including direct, lead, mobilize, optimize and more
  • How do you manage people

3. Not Describing Past Experience Using the CCAR Format

Your application should tell the story of your achievements and leadership skills. But candidates often write out their primary tasks in a brief, bullet-point format. Not only does this list become dull and repetitive to hiring managers, but it also fails to showcase your abilities to their full potential.

Instead of making a simple list of your job duties, describe your experiences using the CCAR format. The following steps can transform a plain job description into an essay-type story of your accomplishments:

  • Challenge: What challenges did you face in this position? Outline anything you had to overcome or fix.
  • Context: Next describe the circumstances surrounding this challenge. This information includes your project’s timeline, your job title and your role in the situation.
  • Actions: After giving your reader the background details, discuss the steps you took to overcome these difficulties.
  • Results: Finally, quantify and qualify the results of your actions. How did the situation change after you took action? Showcasing your results allows you to become the hero of your own story.

4. Not Optimizing an SES Resume for the Specific Job Announcement Series

The same resume can’t meet the requirements and objectives of every job posting. But too often, applications send in a single SES resume for every position to which they apply.

While your work history and basic information will largely remain the same, you should tailor your language and examples to showcase the experience most relevant to a specific position keeping your expertise in leadership at the forefront. You can do this by:

  • Mirroring the keywords on the job posting in your resume and demonstrate your individual expertise related to specific keywords
  • Showcasing specialized experiences pertinent to the particular job announcement
  • Making it clear you have the specific skills and technical qualifications required by the job description

5. Not Including All Information Required by Announcement

Especially when you’ve applied to numerous SES job postings, it can be easy to get into a routine of skimming the job description and uploading your files. But if you don’t upload every document and piece of information required for the application, you’ll be immediately found ineligible for the position.

Be sure to review the job posting and your application thoroughly before sending it in to ensure you’re providing everything necessary for consideration. Look for page limits, information compliance, and character counts. Ensure you have responded to ECQs and TQs if vacancy announcement requires these qualification statements.

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Don’t fall prey to these common mistakes with your SES resume. Stand out from the crowd with a professional resume written by SES Resume Writers. For more information or to request your free consultation, contact us today.

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