We’ve Been Writing ECQ Responses for 15 Years – This is What We’ve Learned

In a challenging economic environment, a government job is often one of the most coveted positions for the active job seeker. Most government jobs deliver levels of safety and security that are unmatched in the traditional public sector. Benefits include pensions, enhanced vacation schedules, and the potential for lower loan rates on things like mortgages and auto loans. Additionally, the health care benefits can be extremely competitive and all encompassing. The result: government jobs are extremely sought after. Securing one without an Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ) statement is almost impossible.

What is an Executive Core Qualification Statement (ECQ)?

Executive Core Qualifications are a specifically designated set of five core competencies that include the following:

  • Leading Change
  • Leading People
  • Results Driven
  • Business Acumen
  • Building Coalitions

When being evaluated for a government position, (ECQs) are considered to be the most critical and necessary component of a resume that will set an applicant apart on an SES application, the official government job application form.

Well written ECQ statements are a way of measuring a candidates “culture contribution” and their ability to fit within the Federal sector. Unlike traditional resumes, a candidate must clearly express these five core competencies through a series of “essays.”  

Highlighting personal strengths and achievements, is important. As is infusing a level of personality to show the “human element” of the candidate. It is a delicate balance, but often the key distinguishing feature in getting a hiring manager to keep you under consideration.

Highlight Real World Applications of These Skills

It is not about listing accomplishments. The ability to provide “real world” examples of how you put these skills into play, and the net results is what is being carefully evaluated.

Under the category of “Leading People,” a candidate needs to demonstrate how in a position of leadership they were able to effect change and effectively utilized interpersonal skills that are relevant to fitting in or leading a corporate culture.

When it comes to “Leading Change,” the hiring manager wants to see an ability to adapt to or influence change. Can you evaluate a situation and discover alternative methods to achieving a goal? Are you flexible enough to respond to a rapidly changing dynamic? How have you shown these qualities in previous employment? The ability to adapt and exemplify leadership is paramount to a candidate’s success.

All of these competencies are part of the methodology to determine how visionary a candidate is. Can they both inspire and contribute to teamwork, and will they become an integral part of the corporate culture?

Use the Specific Format for Writing ECQ Statements

There is a very specific format which must be followed when formatting ECQs. The Challenge-Context-Action-Result (CCAR) model must be followed.

  • “Challenge”: What is a problem that the applicant encountered?
  • “Context”: How did the applicant analyze and approach the problem?
  • “Action”: Describe in detail the steps taken by the applicant to solve the problem.
  • “Result”: Demonstrate positive outcomes and resolutions based upon the applicants actions.

Utilizing the CCAR methodology is absolutely necessary for a proper SES application. The descriptions of each should be clearly written, and without any subjective statements that cannot be substantiated with regard to the candidate’s personal skills.

Information should be clearly delineated via paragraphs and bullet points. Superfluous details such as diplomas, certificates and other awards are not relevant.

The most important thing you can do is properly organize your thoughts. Look at your historic achievements and analyze them through the CCAR methodology. Find those examples that are most relevant, and likely to resonate with the hiring manager.

Properly Format ECQs on the SES Application

Proper organization of your achievements is key. Each of the five ECQs require a one to two page essay as part of the SES application.

Now comes the writing of the statements themselves. Typically ranging from one to two pages, each ECQ follows the CCAR model. Once you have properly organized your achievements, the next step is forming the proper narrative that shows how each of those five competencies are something you have clearly demonstrated, and will be an ideal reflection on who you would be if you were to be hired as part of the organization.

It must be reiterated, it is important to maintain a narrative flow that exemplifies who you are as an individual, and not simply a listing of achievements. If you can successfully demonstrate how you achieved specific targets or overcame specific challenges, the greater impact your statements will have in influencing the hiring manager.

It is important to understand that the five ECQs are comprised of dozens of core competencies which are being evaluated. Are you a visionary, flexible, and a strategic thinker able to evaluate a situation from all angles? Are you a team builder but also a leader unafraid to cut out the weakest links? Are you an effective networker, able to build alliances both within the company and with external partnerships?

The hiring manager’s analysis of the candidate is based upon finding a comfort level in the candidate’s ability to manage the financial, human capital, and technological aspects of programs and organizations. Providing a career specific narrative highlighting these factors, while emphasizing the human element presents you in the best light to be hired.

It May Seem Daunting, but it’s Worth It

While properly formatting and presenting ECQs may seem challenging, remember, it is simply another way of highlighting career achievements. By providing a very cohesive, concise and straightforward narrative, you are giving the hiring manager the best insight into your ability to fit within a corporate culture.

There are numerous ways to get tripped up during the hiring process for a government job; such as background checks, suitability questionnaires, and physical exams. Well written resumes with well demonstrated ECQs are one way to ensure getting to the next level in the hiring process.

The end result- a stable career with excellent benefits. The end rewards are well worth the efforts.

Get Help Writing Your ECQ Responses

If you would rather let a professional ECQ writer handle preparing top notch ECQ answers, and your SES resume if necessary, we can help. Start by filling out our inquiry form and we’ll be in touch shortly.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.