There are a couple of different options for you if you’re looking for a senior-executive-level job in the federal government.
- The Senior Executive Service (SES)
- Senior-executive-level jobs outside of the SES
Senior Executive Service (SES)
The SES consists of executive positions, including managerial, supervisory and policy positions classified above General Schedule (GS) grade 15 or equivalent positions in most Executive Branch agencies of the federal government.
To be qualified for an SES job, you must demonstrate exceptional leadership, managerial and people skills and know how to build partnerships and communicate with customers. Senior executives in the SES share a broad perspective of government grounded in the Constitution and make sure federal executive management is responsive to the needs, policies and goals of the nation.
Eligibility for the Senior Executive Service (SES)
Anyone is eligible to apply to an SES position (as long as you’re a U.S. citizen or national), but to be qualified, you must meet the five Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs).
Executive Core Qualifications
The ECQs help determine if you have the broad executive skills needed to succeed in a variety of SES positions. 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. The five ECQs are:
- Leading change
- Leading people
- Results driven
- Business acumen
- Building coalitions
Applying for a job in the Senior Executive Service
There are two ways you can apply for a Senior Executive Service position:
- Apply directly to a federal agency for a specific SES position.
- Apply for an SES Candidate Development Program (SESCDP).
An SESCDP identifies and prepares aspiring senior executive leaders. If you graduate from this program and your ECQs are certified by an OPM-administered Qualifications Review Board (QRB) then you’re eligible for (but not guaranteed) career appointment to an SES position without further competition.
Senior executive level jobs outside of the SES
Not all senior executive level jobs are in the SES. Agencies in the competitive or excepted service may have executive level jobs, where you may not have to meet the same qualification requirements as in the SES.
How do I know if a job is a Senior Executive job?
In the job announcement look for the This job is open to section. If you see this icon or this icon , it's a senior executive job.
How do I know if the job is in the SES?
There are two ways to know if a job is in the SES.
- The pay scale & grade will begin with an ES—which means Executive Service.
- The Requirements or Qualifications section will list the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) as a requirement.
Documents you may need
OPM Qualifications Review Board certification for SES
The Qualifications Review Board (QRB) reviews and certifies the executive qualifications of each person applying to a senior executive position. You must pass the QRB assessment to be considered for a senior executive job.