Tips for jumping into the SES pool

Kathryn Troutman, president, Resume Place

Jolie Lee | June 4, 2015 5:21 pm

More than 50 percent of the nearly 7,100 Senior Executive Service members will be eligible to retire by 2013,

That means agencies will be looking to replace long-time workers with new members. Federal employees who want to make the jump into the SES will have to be able to sell themselves in writing.

“Sure, you can perform it, but if you can’t put it on paper and it can’t pass the agency’s executive review board, then you’re not playing the SES game,” said Kathryn Troutman, president of the Resume Place, a consulting company for people seeking jobs in the federal government.

The SES application must include five executive core qualifications. These qualifications are “required for entry to the Senior Executive Service and are used by many departments and agencies in selection, performance management, and leadership development for management and executive positions,” according to the Office of Personnel Management. (See OPM’s guide to SES qualifications).

  • Leading Change
    These examples should involve “creative thinking and strategic planning,” Troutman said. She added, “the bigger the scope, the better.” Particularly if the applicant is a GS-14 or 15, the change should be “pretty big.”
    Kathryn Troutman, president, Resume Place
  • Leading People
  • Results Driven
    The results should include accountability, customer service, entrepreneurship and statistics. “Feds go for numbers,” Troutman said. “They’ve got their budgets and their savings and so forth.”
  • Business Acumen
    Troutman said this category is usually the most difficult for federal employees. She said she tells feds, “pretend you’re the vice president or operational manager.”
  • Building Coalitions
    The applicant must be a good negotiator, both internally and externally, Troutman said.

Troutman said applicants should have two “excellent examples” for each qualification.

Many people — whether from the public or private sector — want to get into the SES because they want more decision-making power at the senior levels, Troutman said.

“I’ve heard that people who are at the 14 and 15 levels work toward that but they can’t actually make it happen,” she said.

Troutman said that it is not too early to start building a case of your accomplishments — and it starts with putting those accomplishments in writing.

“That’s the story, that’s your case,” she said. “If you can write that at the highest level, then you’re building your SES package.”


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