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Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs), Technical Qualifications (TQs), Managerial Technical Qualifications (MTQs), or Professional Technical Qualifications (PTQs)

The Senior Executive Service (SES) is a corps of approximately 7000 men and women who administer public programs at the top levels of federal government. Positions are primarily managerial and supervisory. SES pay is linked to individual performance. Basic annual salaries for 2015 range from $148,700 to $203,700. Members of the SES are not eligible for locality pay and some positions include additional recruitment incentives. 


SES Menu

SES Application Assistance 

The Senior Executive Service

The Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) established a distinct personnel system that applies the same executive qualifications requirements to all SES members. The new system was designed to provide greater agency flexibility for selecting and developing federal executives within a framework that preserves the larger corporate interests of government. The SES covers managerial, supervisory, and policy positions above GS-15 (including Executive Schedule IV or V or equivalent positions) that are not filled by presidential appointment with Senate confirmation.


The Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service will assist you with your job search and help you understand the SES system. Long overdue, this well written, easy-to-follow SES application guide and workbook can make the difference between success and failure for those seeking SES positions. Barbara Adams and her CareerPro Global team hit this one out-of-the-park, literally! The guide starts out with the basics and lets the SES candidate know first-hand what to expect and what it will take to get there. SES Guide


How SES Jobs Are Filled

SES Job Lists Search SES Job Vacancies

Each federal agency independently determines the qualifications required for SES positions, and whether to consider only current federal civil service appointees or all qualified candidates. There are two methods of entry into the SES:
Apply directly to a federal agency for a specific SES position or apply for a federal agency’s SES Candidate Development Program ( SESCDP). Qualifications Review Board (QRB) certified graduates of an SESCDP advertised to "all qualified Civil Service appointees" or "all qualified persons" are eligible for (but not guaranteed) career appointment to an SES position without further competition.

Qualifications Requirements


OHM convenes Qualifications Review Boards (QRBs) to provide an independent peer review of candidates proposed for initial career appointment to the SES. The candidate cannot be appointed to the SES until the QRB certifies his/her executive qualifications. The QRB review is the critical last step in the SES selection process. By focusing attention on executive qualifications, the QRB helps ensure that technical skills do not outweigh leadership expertise in the selection of new senior executives.

Applicants must meet two types of qualifications for SES positions:

  • The Executive Core Qualifications, which apply to every SES position; and
  • Specific, professional/technical qualifications (if any) for the position being advertised.

Executive Core Qualifications ( ECQs) common to all SES positions:


  • Leading Change — 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.
  • Leading People — 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.
  • Results Driven — 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.
  • Business Acumen — The ability to manage human, financial, and information resources strategically.
  • Building Coalitions — 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.

The ECQs are mandatory qualification standards for every SES position. Agencies may also identify specific, professional/technical qualifications for the position being filled. The qualification standards for an advertised SES position are listed in the agency’s vacancy announcement. Applicants need to obtain a copy of the agency's vacancy announcement to respond to these requirements.

How to Apply


  • Check for SES vacancy announcements on our jobs board. Call the agency contact, listed on the SES job announcement, for clarifications needed.  Ask for additional information about application procedures and detailed qualifications requirements and print a copy of the SES Qualifications Guide. Be prepared to address the ECQs as outlined above and in the guide.

Read the job announcement thoroughly and pay special attention to any supplemental documentation that may be required. If you neglect to send in required documentation your package will be rejected. Use the same techniques outlined earlier in this chapter to evaluate the job announcement and focus on the ECQs. Your work descriptions must also showcase the required duties, responsibilities, expertise, and education required for the advertised position.

The SES application packages are complex to say the least and often require professional assistance. It is helpful to consult with professional certified Executive SES Writers who have experience writing executive resumes. They write hard-hitting ECQs (Executive Core Qualifications) that tell the real story behind your ability to Lead Change, Lead People, Drive Results, Build Coalitions and employ Business Acumen. Professionally prepared application packages will include all 27 core fundamental competencies throughout your five ECQs and your TQs (Technical Qualifications) must provide succinct examples of your experiences, accomplishments and results. I highly recommend seeking professional assistance especially if this is your first SES bid or if you have been unsuccessful with previous attempts to enter the SES ranks.

Send your application directly to the address shown on the vacancy announcement or submit it online if allowed. Required documentation is generally faxed or sent direct to the human resource office listed in the job announcement. Apply promptly to meet closing dates.

Senior Executive Service Pay Schedule (EX) (2015)

In accordance with OPM certain senior political officials may not receive a pay increase in 2015 or receive the 2015 established pay rates due to section 738 of title VII of division E of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015. Section 738 continues the freeze on the payable pay rates for the Vice President and certain senior political appointees at applicable 2013 levels. The new pay freeze period commences on the first day of the first pay period that begins in January 2015 through the end of the last pay period that begins in 2015 (January 11, 2015, through January 9, 2016, for those on the standard biweekly pay period cycle). However, the officially established and posted pay rates (or pay ranges) for 2015 are in effect and used for determining pay for other employees. Reference Transmital ID 6604 and Transmital ID 5952 for additional information. 

Salary Table 2016-EX
Basic Pay for the Executive Schedule (EX)

Effective January 2016

Level I $205,700
Level II $185,100
Level III $170,400
Level IV $160,300
Level V $150,2000

Resources to Help You Write Your Application Package

SES and most high level management applications require considerable detail. The SES and high level, GS-14 and above, management positions application and resume process can be intimidating to say the least. You have to write a professional application package and must spend quality time to package it correctly and to include all of the required information that is needed for these applications.

With a little coaching, insight, and succinct samples that are provided in the Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service, you too can perpare and submit a professional SES application. SES applications can take up to a week to research, compile, and write a professional package that will get you hired and that's if you know the ins and outs of the process, MOST DON'T. Midlevel applicants can easily spend several days just compiling key information in preparation for completing their SES application. If you need assistance you can use a professional service to compile and write your application.

SES Application Assistance

Additional Resources


Senior Executive Service (SES), Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs),  
Technical Qualifications (TQs), Managerial Technical Qualifications (MTQs)
or Professional Technical Qualifications (PTQs)


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