Federal Resume

By Kathryn Troutman

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Five quick tips for a five-page SES CDP resume

Are you struggling with resume revisions while preparing to apply for a five-page, resume-only, senior executive service candidate development program announcement?

See a sample announcement:

The US Secret Service is posting their SES CDP announcement now, open until 6/23/2017

Application instructions:

The application process used to recruit for this program is the RESUME-ONLY method. Although you should not address the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) or Technical Qualifications (TQs) separately, evidence of each must be clearly reflected in your resume.

Your resume must not exceed five pages. Any information in excess of five pages WILL NOT be considered. Please note that if a cover letter is submitted, it will count towards the five page limit.

Do not submit separate statements addressing the ECQs and/or the TQs.

ONE. Use clear, simple, and direct language. Use first person implied, steer clear of jargon, and replace buzz words with real words. Get rid of useless adjectives and adverbs and use strong, interesting nouns and verbs instead. Use active (“Led $4M program…”) not passive voice (“Was responsible for…”).

TWO. Display real leadership accomplishments – especially those at the program or enterprise level – and describe them in leadership terms. In other words, no “helped,” “supported,” “was tasked to” etc. Synopsize them in CCAR (Challenge-Context-Actions-Results) summaries that reveal your actual leadership challenges and your actual leadership actions that delivered mission-focused, organizational outcomes, with at least 1 key example (but preferably 2) aligned to each of the 5 ECQs subjects.

THREE. Use metrics to describe duties and responsibilities as well as organizational outcomes. Size of budget managed? Number of employees supervised? Percentage change achieved through your efforts or what period of time?

FOUR. Focus on recent and relevant jobs and accomplishments, devoting most of the job block space to GS-14/15 jobs and accomplishments within the past 10 years, less to jobs/accomplishments at the GS-13 level, and very little to jobs and activities that took place more than 10 years ago or were at even lower levels.

FIVE. Respect the eyes and sensibilities of your readers. Which means pay attention to aesthetics, proofread your work, respect white space on the page, and use the right words (for example, it’s “tenets” not “tenants”). Achieve consistent formatting. Use Word’s tools as well as your own common sense to help you achieve and maintain a consistent style (for example, if it says “U.S.” in one place it should not say “US” elsewhere; if it says “long-term goals” in one place it should not say “long term goals” somewhere else).

*Nicole Schultheis has helped dozens of U.S. Secret Service candidates as well as many other investigatory, legal, and law enforcement candidates across government attain SES certification. Her full bio may be found here:

Posted on Jun 20, 2017 at 7:14 AM

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