Applying for $100K Government Jobs? ECQs Are Key

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In the past 10+ years it did not matter what administration took and held political office because the government at the federal level at least just keeps growing. Government jobs, benefits, income and lifestyle under federal employment keeps getting bigger.

Regardless of where you stand politically, the government needs to transform and cutbacks will take place. Part of the “transformation” is supposed to occur through the hiring of “transformational leaders” in the government’s Senior Executive Service (SES). If the world of work in the federal government changes in 2013 it may not change as much as politicians of any stripe suggest or intend.

While it is true that the federal government may have to get smaller, my political prediction will be that the largest employer in the US will continue to be the largest employer in the US – our government. If this is the case and you are an executive you need to know a few things about the Senior Executive Service or SES. You should know about the executive opportunities within the federal government so here is a primer on six-figure opportunities.

Most of the basics you need to know come from, from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the SES program. The Senior Executive Service (SES) is comprised of the men and women charged with leading the continuing transformation of our government. This dedicated corps of executives shares a commitment to public service and a set of democratic values grounded in the fundamental ideals of the Constitution. As the leaders of our Federal civilian workforce, Senior Executives strive each day to create a more citizen centered, result oriented Federal Government.

Candidates can apply directly to a Federal agency for a specific SES position, or they may apply for an SES Candidate Development Program, which can lead to eligibility for a career appointment to an SES position without further competition.

Applicants to SES positions must demonstrate they possess Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) when applying. The ECQs define the competencies needed to build a federal corporate culture that drives for results, serves customers, and builds successful teams and coalitions within and outside the organization. The ECQs are required for entry to the SES and are used by many departments and agencies in selection, performance management, and leadership development for executive positions.

Once you feel you want to apply for or are qualified for an SES position you will need a powerful resume and you will also need to develop ECQs. From the preparation guide you will need to develop a very powerful group of written tools to apply to these positions. You will need to build what I would call five powerful essays called ECQs or Executive Core Qualifications for these positions.

If you intend to apply for these positions you can do so but SES positions come with a higher hurdle. That hurdle can be defined with an acronym – ECQ. To be prepared for the top government jobs you need to prepare to write ECQs.

Recruitment & Selection

Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs)

The Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) define the competencies needed to build a federal corporate culture that drives for results, serves customers, and builds successful teams and coalitions within and outside the organization. The Executive Core Qualifications are required for entry to the Senior Executive Service and are used by many departments and agencies in selection, performance management, and leadership development for management and executive positions. OPM’s Guide to the Senior Executive Service Qualifications  [1.03 MB] provides detailed information on the Executive Core Qualifications.

Executive Core Qualifications:

ECQ 1 Leading Change
ECQ 2 Leading People
ECQ 3 Results Driven
ECQ 4 Business Acumen
ECQ 5 Building Coalitions
Fundamental Competencies

ECQ 1: Leading Change

Definition: This core qualification involves the ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization, to meet organizational goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to establish an organizational vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment.

Creativity and Innovation
Develops new insights into situations; questions conventional approaches; encourages new ideas and innovations; designs and implements new or cutting edge programs/processes.
External Awareness
Understands and keeps up-to-date on local, national, and international policies and trends that affect the organization and shape stakeholders’ views; is aware of the organization’s impact on the external environment.
Is open to change and new information; rapidly adapts to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles.
Deals effectively with pressure; remains optimistic and persistent, even under adversity. Recovers quickly from setbacks.
Strategic Thinking
Formulates objectives and priorities, and implements plans consistent with the long-term interests of the organization in a global environment. Capitalizes on opportunities and manages risks.
Takes a long-term view and builds a shared vision with others; acts as a catalyst for organizational change. Influences others to translate vision into action.

ECQ 2: Leading People

Definition: This core qualification involves the ability to lead people toward meeting the organization’s vision, mission, and goals. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to provide an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others, facilitates cooperation and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of conflicts.

Conflict Management
Encourages creative tension and differences of opinions. Anticipates and takes steps to prevent counter-productive confrontations. Manages and resolves conflicts and disagreements in a constructive manner.
Leveraging Diversity
Fosters an inclusive workplace where diversity and individual differences are valued and leveraged to achieve the vision and mission of the organization.
Developing Others
Develops the ability of others to perform and contribute to the organization by providing ongoing feedback and by providing opportunities to learn through formal and informal methods.
Team Building
Inspires and fosters team commitment, spirit, pride, and trust. Facilitates cooperation and motivates team members to accomplish group goals.

ECQ 3: Results Driven

Definition: This core qualification involves the ability to meet organizational goals and customer expectations. Inherent to this ECQ is the ability to make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analyzing problems, and calculating risks.

Holds self and others accountable for measurable high-quality, timely, and cost-effective results. Determines objectives, sets priorities, and delegates work. Accepts responsibility for mistakes. Complies with established control systems and rules.
Customer Service
Anticipates and meets the needs of both internal and external customers. Delivers high-quality products and services; is committed to continuous improvement.
Makes well-informed, effective, and timely decisions, even when data are limited or solutions produce unpleasant consequences; perceives the impact and implications of decisions.
Positions the organization for future success by identifying new opportunities; builds the organization by developing or improving products or services. Takes calculated risks to accomplish organizational objectives.
Problem Solving
Identifies and analyzes problems; weighs relevance and accuracy of information; generates and evaluates alternative solutions; makes recommendations.
Technical Credibility
Understands and appropriately applies principles, procedures, requirements, regulations, and policies related to specialized expertise.

ECQ 4: Business Acumen

Definition: This core qualification involves the ability to manage human, financial, and information resources strategically.

Financial Management
Understands the organization’s financial processes. Prepares, justifies, and administers the program budget. Oversees procurement and contracting to achieve desired results. Monitors expenditures and uses cost-benefit thinking to set priorities.
Human Capital Management
Builds and manages workforce based on organizational goals, budget considerations, and staffing needs. Ensures that employees are appropriately recruited, selected, appraised, and rewarded; takes action to address performance problems. Manages a multi-sector workforce and a variety of work situations.
Technology Management
Keeps up-to-date on technological developments. Makes effective use of technology to achieve results. Ensures access to and security of technology systems.

ECQ 5: Building Coalitions

Definition: This core qualification involves the ability to build coalitions internally and with other Federal agencies, State and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations, foreign governments, or international organizations to achieve common goals.

Develops networks and builds alliances; collaborates across boundaries to build strategic relationships and achieve common goals.
Political Savvy
Identifies the internal and external politics that impact the work of the organization. Perceives organizational and political reality and acts accordingly.
Persuades others; builds consensus through give and take; gains cooperation from others to obtain information and accomplish goals.

Remember to obtain and build out your resume with the ECQ language listed above. If you need help to create ECQs then you are not alone. It takes a lot of work to make sure your qualifications fit these high level government positions.

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