If you are applying for a Senior Executive Service (SES) position in the government, you will need to submit a special application package. The SES package includes:
Your federal resume
This article explains how to write your ECQ statements.
What are ECQ Statements?
ECQ stands for "Executive Core Qualifications." As the name suggests, your ECQ statements demonstrate your qualifications for the job. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has divided these qualifications into five major groups: Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, and Building Coalitions.
Each ECQ statement should be between one and two pages long, and should provide specific examples from your work history that demonstrate your qualifications in the area.
ECQ 1: Leading Change
In your first ECQ statement, Leading Change, you should focus on examples in your executive work history that demonstrate your creativity and adaptability as a leader. A company’s goals and standing in the industry are always in flux, and a good executive meets these challenges creatively and flexibly. Your examples should also demonstrate your vision and awareness of the big picture, both inside and outside the company.
ECQ 2: Leading People
Your second ECQ statement, Leading People, should demonstrate your abilities as a leader in an executive environment. Examine your work history for challenges that demonstrate your ability to manage conflicts, build a team-oriented workplace, support the professional development of individual team members, and use diversity to your advantage.
ECQ 3: Results Driven
Results are always important in business, but at the executive level they are especially so: The results you have achieved as a high-level manager are essentially your calling card. Therefore, the goal of your third ECQ statement is to demonstrate the abilities that make you a results-driven manager. These include customer service skills, problem-solving skills, an entrepreneurial mindset, and the ability to make a decision and be accountable for it.
ECQ 4: Business Acumen
Your fourth ECQ statement, Business Acumen, shows your potential as a businessperson. Quite simply, the examples in this statement should demonstrate your skill at managing people, finances, and technical assets efficiently and effectively.
ECQ 5: Building Coalitions
Businesses don’t evolve in a bubble – they need to interact with other businesses and government agencies on a regular basis. Your fifth ECQ statement, Building Coalitions, demonstrates how well you function in the larger arena. Choose examples that show your ability to work together with other institutions to achieve specific results, including negotiating, influencing others, partnering, and even politicking when necessary.
How to Write ECQ Statements
Use the CCAR approach. CCAR stands for challenge, context, action, and result. This is the format that you should follow for every specific example you give in your ECQ statements: Explain the challenge you were faced with, the context in which it occurred, the action that you took to resolve it, and the end result.
Use executive level examples. Your ECQ statements need to demonstrate your leadership abilities at the executive level, so be sure to use examples that are appropriate to the level of the position you are applying for.
Write your ECQ statements with the specific job in mind. Your ECQ statements should always be tailored for the specific job you are applying for. Choosing examples similar to situations you may face in the new position will best demonstrate your abilities as they relate to the specific job.
Use specific examples with quantifiable results. The biggest mistake people make in writing their ECQ statements is being too vague. Don’t just say you have experience with something; find an example of an incident in your executive work history that demonstrates said experience. Examples that have measurable results, such as percentages or dollar amounts, are usually the most impressive.
Make each ECQ statement between 1 and 2 pages long. Shorter than one page will make you look inexperienced, and more than two pages will make you sound like a windbag. Choose your examples carefully and don’t use more space than you need to get your points across.
Getting Your Dream SES Job
Like any other part of the application package, the purpose of the ECQ statements is to convince the hiring manager that you are the best person for the job. Keep this in mind when writing your ECQ statements. Choose the most impressive examples in your executive work history in order to state your case in the best light possible. Your writing style should be clear, eloquent, and sparing – write as much as you need to fully describe your abilities, but not a single word more.
With the right combination of experience, confidence, and writing skill, your ECQ statements are sure to shine.