The Candidate Development Program Overview
Applying for Candidate Development Programs (CDP) may require different resume types and application procedures. As with any federal job announcement, candidates need to carefully read the entire announcement to properly prepare a resume package and any narratives, questionnaires, or other requirements (transcripts, most recent performance evaluation, references, other) to prevent the application from being ‘ineligible’ or ‘disqualified’.
Candidate Development Programs may be open only to members of a specific agency, only to GS-14s or GS-15s within the federal government, or some are open to the general U.S. population.
Senior Executive Service (SES) Candidate Development Programs offer the opportunity for exceptionally talented and well-qualified individuals to receive structured professional development and to gain valuable executive experience. Developmental assignments are a key component of a CDP program, designed to strengthen candidates’ understanding and ability to provide executive leadership in a multifunctional environment, and gain experience of the 28 leadership competencies required of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), in order for Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) to be certified.
Upon successful completion of a CDP, candidates are eligible for OPM certification of the candidate’s Executive Core Qualifications in the form of 10 essays under the ECQ headings: Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, and Building Coalitions (for a total of 10 pages of essays). Once the ECQ essays are certified by OPM, entry into the SES is based on performance, OPM certification, and the availability of vacant SES positions.
The 3-Page ECQ Resume
- The IRS CDP job announcement (Job Announcement Number: 16ES-CDPS007-0301-01-AB, and closes on September 1, 2016) requires a maximum 3-page resume that describes: significant achievements, increasing levels of responsibility as a manager and a solid record of successful professional performance. The announcement states: “In addition, you must show in your resume that you possess, or have the potential for development in the five Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs). Your resume should describe how your leadership experience relates to each of the following ECQs and its scope and impact.”
In addition to the five ECQs that must be addressed, the job announcement requests that each resume address at least one of five technical specialty fields, e.g., Accounts Processing & Customer Assistance, Information Technology, or three others; and, address broad knowledge or experience on the tax and/or finance aspects with tax-exempt bond transactions or tax credit bond transactions including Organizational Support, Organizational Knowledge, Stakeholder Relations and Education, Procurement, Human Capital Management, and several other categories.
The job announcement states: You must submit: 1) A resume. Resumes may not exceed 3 pages. Any additional information beyond three pages will not be considered. Your resume should reflect the Challenge-Context-Action-Result (CCAR) format.
So, you might be wondering now – “How does one get all of these requirements into a 3-page resume??”
Now is the opportunity for you to shine in your writing and communication skills. Write tight and clear.
The best way to approach this resume format is to list the employment history with job titles and dates – and a brief position description (preferred format); followed by education and any additional specific requirements (presentations, significant awards, certifications required for the position) – maybe a total of one-half of a page or a bit more; and then followed by short topical paragraphs in the mini-CCAR (Context, Challenge, Actions, Results) format to describe each ECQ and the additional competencies. The story paragraphs will be short, perhaps one-third page or a bit more for each story for a total of five or more stories. Stories that are used to describe an ECQ, can also cover the technical specialty fields.
List the employment history with job title, organization and dates; followed by education and other short specific requirements; and then followed by the short topical paragraphs in the mini-CCAR (Context, Challenge, Actions, Results) format to describe each ECQ and the additional competencies.
Sample 3-page Resume Format (Truncated)
Address, City, State, Zip
Acting Director, Public Affairs Division, 12/2012 to present. Manage multiple high-priority requirements involved in formulating appropriate responses to inquiries relating to statistical, methodological, technical, and policy issues. Prepare complex data in format easy to understand by varied stakeholders ranging from top government officials to members of the public. Garner support of representatives from other U.S. agencies. Closely monitor, facilitate and coordinate communications within and outside the agency regarding cases under review.
Chief, Central Classification Division, 01/2007 to 12/2012. Accountable for the adjudication of classification actions for 20,000 personnel. Collaborated with a variety of executives in different Business Units to meet requirements. Met with key stakeholders and coordinating officials to assess customer satisfaction, explain organizational policy, and resolve significant problems and issues. Liaison with senior leadership to brief operational/analytical information and classification evaluations. Ensured centralized classification servicing across the enterprise was in compliance with Office of Personnel (OPM) standards and law. Built relationships with leadership; shared classification knowledge, creating awareness, a key to understanding “fiduciary responsibility” pertaining to pay. Designed business and financial structures.
Executive Director, IT Center of Excellence, 01/2005 to 01/2007. Collaborated with six senior business executives (including CFO) in orchestrating a top-down and bottom-up approach to reorganizing the organization and changing the focus from into 4 newly created business units to leverage customer, human capital and technology assets. Charged with full strategic, operating, and leadership responsibility for the largest and most diverse IT Business Unit in the company (475 employees in eight states), training and education, software development, and sensor development. Managed financial system reviews ensuring effective internal controls.
MA, University of XXX, 20xx
BA, University of XXX, 20xx
EXECUTIVE CORE QUALIFICATIONS (Tip: These short ECQ stories can also be used in 5-Page SES/ECQ Resumes)
LEADING CHANGE: As Chief, I orchestrated change to the agency’s retirement plan to allow veterans to buy-back their military time. This issue required congressional consultation, and was also an item negotiated in the local union agreement that would impact the entire workforce. By inquiring with the Personnel Management Service staff, I identified the members of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) who were planning a visit. Gaining approval, I briefed the HASC representative on Plans and Force Management initiatives, including the buy-back for military time, with the caveat that I needed consultation with a congressperson. My actions expedited the approval for the change to be part of the retirement plan, and as a result initially benefited scores of veterans, and the open action from union negotiations closed. I then worked with HR to implement the new policies.
LEADING PEOPLE: I collaborated with senior leadership, and served as acting Director after a serious workplace violence incident. I rebuilt morale of the 350 personnel in seven offices in two states, and created a new path going forward for staff to ensure such violence would not repeat itself. I held meetings to discuss the issues, asked staff to put away prejudices and animosity, and moved forward under one identity. Also, I mended conflict among two groups, from the two legacy organizations. I obtained approval to fund a notable expert to speak at an all-hands meeting, who also helped the management team at a managers-only meeting learn of techniques to build the social and emotional well-being of their subordinates. Over the course of 20 months faced with managing a serious workplace violence situation that stemmed from long-standing office divisiveness, I provided relief for distressed staff, ensuring positive movement forward of programs in the division.
RESULTS DRIVEN: As Chief, I developed metrics for the production workforce, addressing concerns from leadership and ensuring that the staff was accountable for timely classification actions. I formed a surge team to clear out a year-long backlog of more than 200 classification actions, and led the Business Unit (BU) Chiefs to evaluate data and develop metrics for each BU and individual classifier. I imbued Chiefs with a sense of accountability for the work that needed to be accomplished. Within six months, I led the team to eliminate the backlog and reduce the classification action timeframe of more than 135 days, down to 28 days. Each classifier is now held accountable to defined metrics. Armed with these numbers, I effectively informed and managed leadership expectations.
BUSINESS ACUMEN: As Deputy Director, I led implementation of a funding reduction across the agency, in response to an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) tasking and directed an approximately $200M cut to the Core Contractor budget. First, I leveraged the agency’s Strategic Decision Framework to provide a methodical process to review, analyze and produce well-informed recommendations. I assembled the leaders of the agency’s three architectures, by which the agency is partitioned: Mission, Business, and Information Technology to review, assess, prioritize, and recommend reductions in order to meet agreed upon target amounts. By sharing information prior to the final formation of the submission, the committees were able to better understand the “big picture” and assisted each other to meet the enterprise target. In the end, the mission architecture paid the business architectures shortfall with little to no impact to their mission. My extensive and exhaustive process enabled the agency to perform enterprise-level analysis, to include partner input, on a proposed solution to a significant personnel cut, while highlighting and mitigating quantifiable national level impacts. Leadership approved my recommendations, enabling the agency to meet OMB suspense and requirements.
BUILDING COALITIONS: I obtained funding to create the first Center of Excellence and was its first Executive Director. Brought together academicians, military and corporate executives to form an independent think-tank group charged with resolving and recommending solutions to issues for which standard financial principles and processes could not be implemented, due to the complexity of the issue. Chaired the meetings, and led the Center members to draft a charter and sign an agreement to provide support to all Business Units across the nation. Navigated discussion with varying opinions and led the senior representatives to agreement.
If you need additional assistance, check out our newly updated book (December 2015), The New SES Application, or visit our Services page for a quote. Diane can also deliver hands-on training in ECQ writing at your agency; contact us for a discussion.
Diane Hudson is a Certified Federal Resume Writer, multi-credentialed career coach, executive resume writer and editor, specializing in posturing federal and non-federal employees to enter the federal government’s Senior Executive Service (SES). She is co-author of “The New SES Application,” the first-ever book written about the Five-page SES Federal Resume, as well as the traditional 10-page ECQ format. Diane is an experienced trainer in Senior Executive Service, ECQ/TQ, KSA and Federal Resume Writing topics for SES Candidate Development Program candidates. Agency instruction experience includes Commander’s Leadership Development Program at the Naval Ship Yard, Air Force Headquarters, US Army Missile Command, FEMA, Defense Acquisition University (Fellows), EPA, PTO, Bureau of Reclamation, Southern Command, Special Forces, and others. Diane is an instructor for military employment readiness specialists and retiring military; as well as train-the-trainer at career industry conferences internationally on outplacement and career search topics.
Why struggle on your own to write your Senior Executive Service application? Use a clear step-by-step method that was refined over 10 years in author Kathryn Troutman’s 2-day SES workshops, and proven to work hundreds of times in the classroom. Along the way, you’ll find excellent “before and after” samples of the application pieces. Includes the key steps involved in developing the SES application: writing the ECQs, TQs, Five-Page SES Federal Resume, and Executive Cover Letter (if needed), as well as using the required Challenge-Context-Action-Results (CCAR) format for SES narratives.