By Diane Hudson, CPCC, CFJST, CFCC
and Kathryn Troutman, President, Resume Place
August 21, 2018
If you are a GS-15 or GS-14 and interested in pursuing a career in the Senior Executive Service (SES), there is good news – there are three Candidate Development Program (CDP) job announcements currently open:
Department of Veterans Affairs, Assistant Secretary for Human Resources Management (Closing date: August 29, 2018)
Department of Commerce, Office of the Secretary
(Closing date: August 31, 2018)
Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary of the Interior
(Closing date: September 7, 2018)
START YOUR ECQ WRITING TODAY !
All three applications for the open CDPs are nearly the same, each requires the full 10 pages of ECQ stories and a senior level resume.
Candidate Development Programs are positive opportunities to refine and polish your Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) and 28 leadership competencies required of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to become a Senior Executive Service (SES) member.
According to OPM, Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Programs (SESCDP) are used as succession management tools by agencies interested in identifying and preparing aspiring senior executive leaders. The really good news for CDP graduates is they may have their ECQs certified by OPM’s Qualifications Review Board (QRB) and may receive an initial career SES appointment without further competition (QRB certification does not guarantee placement in the SES).
Competition is fierce for these coveted leadership programs and often many hundreds of personnel apply. As such, applicants need to carefully follow the job announcement instructions and submit the full set of ECQs and SES-level resume, which stands out against the competition. Here are my Top Tips for preparing an executive resume and ECQs for the CDP applications:
WRITE YOUR TOP TEN
Write 10 top accomplishment stories for the ECQs – two stories per each ECQ category (Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, and Building Coalitions). These stories need to be interesting, engaging, and high-level. These high-level stories need to demonstrate breadth, depth, and complexity of programs, relationships, and execution of business functions (including resource allocation, budget and finance, human capital management, organizational development, contracting and information technology). Brainstorm stories and make possible story lists – think policy, programmatic challenges, diversity in the workplace, conflict resolution, and persuading and influencing others. Think about international stories or stories where you collaborated with external stakeholders or organizations.
USE THE MANDATORY CCAR FORMAT
Develop stories in the CCAR format (Challenge, Context, Actions, and Results). Each story should be one page with about four paragraphs (just like an essay with a beginning (Challenge/Context), middle (Actions), and end (Results). The format makes it easy to draft one-page high-powered accomplishment stories. Use stories that are relevant, recent, and high-level (executive / supervisory).
SUCCESSFUL LEADERSHIP EXAMPLE FOR LEADING CHANGE OR RESULTS DRIVEN:
Context and Challenge: As an American Airlines Pilot in 2010, I developed a successful work-around for Eyjafjallajokull Volcano eruption in Iceland, which shut down European airspace for six days. All commercial and military airlines stopped flying.
I decided to analyze solutions to try to avoid a significant safety threat of flying through volcanic ash, without significant increasing fuel costs and explore the possibility of allowing the airline to fly during this period of time. I conducted historical analysis of engine shutdowns and depressurization of B-757/767/777 aircraft to determine and assess risk of flying over cloud.
I met with the manufacturers and engineers of the airplane – Boeing, in Seattle to discuss the problem of flying in the volcanic ash.
Led development of a procedure for crew to treat cloud as terrain: Instructed pilots to fly over cloud with instructions to fly away from the cloud (one direction or another) if emergency descent was required. Vetted procedure through dispatch and engineering; issued a bulletin to operation manuals of three fleets involved and, lastly, briefed principle operations inspector and pilots’ association leadership.
The engineers determine that the plane could fly. We met with the President of American Airlines to discuss the plan for flying. The procedures were effectively implemented and flights resumed promptly. American Airlines was the ONLY commercial airline to fly out of Paris through the 10 days of the volcanic ash. And they flew 15,000 flights during that period of time.
NARRATIVE STORIES, NO RANDOM LISTS:
Tell an actual story, rather than a creating laundry list of expert knowledge.
- Acted as consultant to obtain Operations Specifications inclusion for Low Visibility operations on the B-757.
- Conducted historical analysis of engine shutdowns and depressurization of B-757/767/777 aircraft.
- Created new Line Oriented Flight Training script to provide for airman standardization in line operations.
- Spearheaded major safety initiatives resulting in increased safety and decreased incidents.
- Led cross-organizational teams and efforts to create improved safety culture; directed a diverse team of 30 in conducting a survey in response to an Inspector General review.
- Experienced in large-scale program analysis and investigations; stood up a budget and human capital management plan for a new organization.
- Inherited a team that was embroiled in conflict. Met with labor relations and HR and set new expectations. Developed a high performance organizations that delivered superior customer service, according to customer surveys.
- Analyzed best options to avoid significant safety threats that results in cyber security transformations.
WRITE LEADERSHIP EXAMPLES WITHIN THE LAST TEN YEARS
Avoid using stories that are earlier than 2009; and do not provide summary laundry lists of how you began your career some 20 years ago. You may be very proud of an accomplishment early in your career, but OPM is looking for recent, GS-14/15 level stories.
ONE YEAR SUPERVISORY EXPERIENCE
According to these announcements, your resume must explicitly demonstrate one full year of supervisory experience as well as executive leadership potential.
Follow OPM’s directions for formatting and use one-inch margins and 12 point Times New Roman font for the ECQ stories and 11 point font for the resume.
Use active, strong writing throughout your stories and the resume. Avoid passive writing (e.g., “Responsible for…”). Spell out acronyms in the first instance. Proofread carefully.
The average executive resume is five pages. Ensure that the resume includes references to the stories used in the ECQs. In the executive resume, use short bullets that refer to the ECQ stories within the proper timeframes. Include recent and relevant training and awards.
ECQS WILL BE READ WITHOUT THE RESUME:
Remember, do not assume that the reader knows what you do. Write the resume and ECQs for an unknown audience – as if someone could pick up your stories, read them and be engaged, without knowing you or your background.
There is still time to prepare the CDP executive resume and ECQs to apply for these announcements.
For more information, please see “The New SES Application.”
GET THE BOOK TO SEE 3 SAMPLES OF TOP TEN LISTS AND EXAMPLES OF CCAR ACCOMPLISHMENTS!
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