Second Chances in the Senior Executive Service

Almost everyone would agree that landing a job in these tough economic times can be both challenging and stressful. And the higher the stakes, as in the SES, the higher the emotions can run. 

After working with almost 4,000 SES applicants over the years, CareerPro Global’s writing team has gained a great deal of insight into this process. And, among other things, we’ve learned that there are second chances.

What if you make it through the selection process, receive an offer for an SES position, and then your ECQS are submitted to OPM for certification and approval? That’s great news, right? But what if (as does happen to some people) your ECQs don’t make the cut? Well, in almost every case, you will be given a second chance. OPM allows you to revise and resubmit your ECQs within a specific timeframe, and the hiring organization has several other options to resubmit your application.

Here’s another scenario: What if you simply don’t land the first SES position you apply for? As is true in all job searches—regardless of the level or the emotions involved—you always have another chance. This recent testimonial will help to further illustrate the point: 

“… although not accepted for the first position I applied for with the ECQs and TQs CareerPro drafted, I was interviewed and accepted for the second position—and the ECQs and TQs sailed through OPM with no edits/questions at all (something the hiring director for my office said she had not seen in her 10 years there). I have now started my new position. While I consider myself a reasonably good writer, the ECQs and TQs I produced on my own were simply not good enough. I was not fully comfortable with hiring a writing service like CareerPro, but after some reflection, I decided that it was worth the investment. My writer worked with me intensively over the next three weeks, asking detailed questions and kicking several drafts back and forth with me to make sure they accurately captured my career in a way that ensured all of the ‘bases’ that both the hiring office and OPM wanted to see were covered. I also urge anyone looking for an SES-level position to not to be discouraged if they don’t get hired on the first try. In my case, I was not even asked back for an interview for the first position (though when I asked for feedback, I was told that the package itself was noticeably stronger than the initial submission I had drafted on my own—the problem was the hiring office did not consider me the right “fit” for the job). And my second SES application ended with my hiring.”

What’s the takeaway here? You might not be suited for every SES position for which you apply. Some agencies may be looking for specific experience to fit their team or environment, but those things may not be effectively expressed in the vacancy announcement. On the other hand, there are a number of unknown variables, such as stiff competition or backdoor politics (they already had someone in mind). We advise you to never give up, and to maintain a positive and proactive approach regarding your search for the right SES position.

Finally, just remember that highly qualified and driven leaders just like you sometimes don’t land the job on the first try; they need a second chance.  

Barbara Adams is the President and CEO of CareerPro Global, Inc. (CPG). She has been on the leading edge of SES application development for decades. Committed to providing world-class service, she has also built an SES writing team that has assisted more than 2,500 clients develop their application materials. Ms. Adams has been featured on T.V. and radio and as a presenter at numerous career conferences. She is the co-author of the book, Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service: How to Find SES Jobs, Determine Your Qualifications, and Develop Your SES Application. Learn more.

Posted in Career Tip of the Month

Tags: Senior Executive Service, career advice, career advancement


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