6 Ways to Become SES

How do you make it to SES? Here are six tips.

Do you know the top Senior Executive Service (SES) members will make over $200,000 a year in 2014?

Did you know there’s only 7,200 SES in the federal government out of 2 million government employees?

So: how do you make it to SES? Here are six tips:

  1. Be Awesome – Yes, this is simple (but difficult). But in the end, to get promoted to the level of SES you have to consistently be great at your job. Get great performance reviews and be respected in your agency over the course of your career.
  2. Rotate Jobs – It’s hard to become SES without changing your position. Most SESers have had at least 5 different jobs before making it to the top. This could be taking a detail to OMB or detail within your agency. Or officially taking on a new title and role within your agency or at another agency.
  3. Flexible on Location – It’s already hard to become SES. It’s even harder to become SES outside the beltway. It helps a ton if you are able to live in D.C. to make it to SES.  Even if you don’t plan on spending the rest of your career in D.C., almost all SESers have made a Washington tour.
  4. Pay Attention to ECQs – OPM lays out a great roadmap to become a SES in their Executive Core Qualifications. Every year you should map yourself against these five executive core qualifications.  Where you see deficiencies, take additional responsibilities and assignments to fill in the gap.
  5. Leverage Outside Resources – Most SESers I know are active outside their day job. Many are members of outside associations like ACT/IAC or IPMA-HR.  Others actively participate in nearby universities as instructors.
  6. Find a Coach or Mentor – Executive coaching is becoming more and more popular.  To get ahead, it’s great to have an outside third party talk through your career.

Steve Ressler is the founder and president of GovLoop.com.