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Once the achievements were identified, we began adding content to each example in the CCAR (Context, Challenge, Actions, and Results) format, developing and writing the stories as essays. We refined the stories ensuring the essay package clearly displayed the leadership competencies required by OPM.

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Since we recognized that the resume-based application process is considered a screening method, to be used in conjunction with a structured interview, and she would be assigned a rating, we were certain to identify my client’s executive leadership experience considering the complexity of the position/situation, scope and breadth of the results/outcomes, and the time horizon (how the result affect future issues/events). Consequently, we developed the full CCAR essays, and then summarized each story for the five-page resume based application, to provide my client clearly articulated stories to prepare for the interview process. Here are a couple sample short bullets that we prepared for the five-page resume (She was applying for a position with DHS):

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Knowing that the evaluators are looking for demonstrated evidence of my client’s ECQs and the 28 leadership competencies woven throughout the entire five pages, I focused on challenges, some actions, and results in the short ECQ bullets – as the context is addressed in the position description on the resume. We also addressed specific requirements from the ECQs: conflict management, technology integration, human capital management, financial management, and diversity.

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Developing and writing a (SES) application package with Executive Core Qualification statements (ECQs) is a challenging process that requires dedication and hours of preparation. The process is also very rewarding – a journey that reaps high rewards, when seeking employment among the ranks of some of our government’s top officials (.04% of the total federal workforce).

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Since 2008, the Office of Personnel Management has introduced a new method of applying for SES – the five-page resume-based application with the ECQs integrated into the position descriptions. Agencies may use either the traditional SES application method (a senior-level federal resume and set of Executive Core Qualification statements (ECQs) – a 15- to 25-page resume and essay package) or the five-page resume-based SES application.


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After the full ECQ essays were written (about 10 pages max.), I began to summarize and edit each story into short five to eight-line bullets/ paragraphs.

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While drafting the ECQ essays, I also outlined my client’s five-page resume with the following elements: a short Executive Profile; position descriptions detailing my client’s leadership operational scope for each position held in the past 10 years; and a section following each position description titled: Leadership Initiatives – this is where I added the mini-ECQ stories/bullets. The resume also included Education, Advanced Training, Public Speaking Engagements, Publications, Memberships, and Awards.

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The five-page resume-based SES/ECQ application requires evidence of the ECQs in the text of the resume. (The ECQs are Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, and Building Coalitions. Each ECQ is an umbrella header for the 28 leadership competencies that OPM has identified for the SES. The 28 leadership competencies must be evident throughout the five-page resume combined with a structured/behavior-based interview).