Four Steps to the Senior Executive Service (SES)

May, 18, 2015

While most of these steps obviously have numerous smaller steps within them, if you use this high-level list as a blueprint, you will be well on your way to the Senior Executive Service (SES)!

Diverse Leadership Experiences

  1. Seek out diverse leadership experiences to expand your strategic perspective in your field, and to cultivate your executive potential.

Street Sign with Six Signs that say Help, Assistance, Support, Tips, Guidance, and Adivce This step is all about having an “executive mindset” and disposition in your professional endeavors. It is possible to be a seasoned GS-15, military leader, or corporate leader, yet still lack the leadership experiences to actually make the cut. To avoid this disappointment, start looking for ways to research your field, seek out mentoring by an SES or other leader in your organization, participate in higher-level meetings, and engage in other such forward-leaning opportunities.

Executive / Leadership Training

  1. Seek out executive/leadership training both in and out of your specific field of expertise.

Likewise, it is a great idea to seek out leadership or other training opportunities, such as serving in developmental/rotational assignments, “acting” leadership roles, and Candidate Development Programs.

Comprehensive Senior Executive Service Resume

  1. Develop a comprehensive federal resume that is focused on the past 10-15 years of your career.

A federal resume requires certain information, and there’s no time like the present to start getting prepared. Each job in your work history should include your key duties/scope of responsibility. However, perhaps most importantly, you want to highlight your top 5-10 accomplishments under each position.

If you are following the steps above, you should have plenty of rich material to integrate into your federal resume. You can also check out some sample resumes at this link.

Executive Core Qualifications

  1. Write your Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs)!

ECQs are the “heart and soul” of most SES applications, and the final standard by which you will be evaluated after being selected for an SES position. If your ECQs don’t make it, you don’t get the job, plain and simple. Once you’ve committed yourself to going for the SES, we encourage you to be proactive in researching, educating yourself, and developing your ECQs. One of the very best ways available to do that is through our new ECQ training courses. Click here for more information.


Lee Kelley is an Iraq war veteran, former Army captain, and author, who now serves as the Senior Writer and Executive Coach on CareerPro Global’s SES 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 military personnel. In addition, Lee 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.

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