Getting into the SES: Do You Have What it Takes?

Senior Executive Service (SES) jobs are highly sought after positions in the federal government. What are the requirements necessary to obtain an SES position?

The Senior Executive Service, or SES, is a group of people responsible for administering public programs at the top levels of the Federal government. Because these jobs are so limited and so well compensated they are highly sought after positions.

Although there is only one hire per job posting, there may be many who will apply. So what are the requirements necessary to obtain an SES position?

All SES candidates must meet two distinct types of requirements before being considered for any SES position. Every SES position requires candidates to meet Executive Core Qualifications, or ECQs, and each individual job posting must be met with qualifications that are specific to that particular job. Here is a further breakdown:

•    ECQs: The ECQs are made up of five core components that all candidates must possess in order to qualify for an SES position. These components are:

  1. Leading Change: This is the ability to organize thoughts and execute the visions during an ever changing environment.
  2. Leading People: This means that the candidate must display that they can not only lead people in a work environment but also have the ability to help develop others, incorporate teamwork amongst co-workers, and settle disputes quickly.
  3. Results Driven: This is the ability to analyze risk and problems and be able to come up with a decision that will produce high quality results.
  4. Business Acumen: This is the ability to be able to strategically handle human resources, financial resources, and information resources all at the same time.
  5. Building Coalitions: This is the ability to work with different levels of the government at the Federal, state, and even local levels and get all to work in unison towards the same goals.

 •    Job Specific: Depending on what the job is there may be specific qualifications that must be met in order to qualify for that job. The requirements may be technical, educational, or professional. If there are specific requirements that must be met for a specific SES position then those requirements will be listed on the job posting which is found at different agencies vacancy announcements. It is recommended that if you do not have the specific qualifications that are being asked for on a particular job posting that you don’t even apply for the position. Again, there will be many who apply and only those that meet all the qualifications will be considered.

A review board will take all the completed applications and review the ECQs and job specific qualification to help determine who is best suited for the position that is being filled. If you are in consideration for one of these positions then you will know that you are among the best of the best.

If you are considering applying for an SES position and you posses all the ECQs and can meet job specific qualifications then go ahead and apply for the spot. Just be sure that you are filling out the application the right way and that you have all the proper paperwork accompanying your application as another qualification to getting an SES position is following all the red tape procedures to the letter.

About the Author

Jason Kay is a professional resume writer and regular contributor to, a professional federal resume service and repository of sample KSA statements.