Transition Guidance

Success during your transition is the result of an honest self-assessment, developing sound financial and career planning objectives, aggressively pursuing your job search strategies and a little hard work!

Title:How to Write Your Materials

Author:Barbara Adams. All rights reserved.

Check the vacancy announcement for specific information required. Each announcement is different and may require some or all of the following information in a specific format.

Personal Information:

  • Full name, mailing address (with ZIP code)
  • Home, cell and work phone numbers (with area code)
  • E-Mail address
  • Social Security Number
  • Country of citizenship (most federal jobs require United States citizenship)
  • Veterans' preference
  • Highest federal civilian grade held (give job series and dates held)
  • Professional summary written in 3rd person

Work Experience:

  • Job title (include series and grade if federal job)
  • Employer's name and full address, including street address, city, state and ZIP code
  • Supervisor's name and phone number (indicate if OK to contact)
  • Starting and ending dates (month and year or month, date and year as required)
  • Hours per week
  • Salary
  • Job duties written in 3rd person
  • Job accomplishments written in 3rd person


  • For colleges and universities:
    • Name, city, state and ZIP Code
    • Type, major(s), and year of any degrees received
    • GPA
    • Total semester or quarter credits earned
    • List or courses relevant to the position
  • For high school:
    • Name, city, state and ZIP Code
    • Date of diploma or GED

Other Qualifications:

  • Job-related training courses, including course title, date (may be year or month and year), course duration (hours, days or months)
  • Certifications and licenses (include Secret or Top Secret clearance here)
  • Job-related skills such as other languages, computer software/hardware, tools, machinery, typing speed
  • Job-related honors, awards, and special accomplishments such as publications, memberships in professional or honor societies, leadership activities, public speaking, and performance awards

Supplemental Essay Questions:

In addition to the resume, an applicant also may need to prepare KSAs or answer other essay questions such as TQs, ECQs or others. These supplemental essays are generally written in a CONTEXT — CHALLENGE — ACTION — RESULT (CCAR) format, detailing one to three examples addressing the question. Unlike the resume, these narratives are written in the first person. Since each answer may be judged separately and may be split among different reviewers for evaluation, each should be treated as an individual document. Any acronyms used should be defined in each and no reference should be made to another answer (e.g., never say, "See question 2 above"). It is also permissible to reuse examples in different answers, although these should be written in a different manner to target the specific question and a greater variety of answers is best. Examples should be within the past 10 years and as recent as possible.

CCAR Format:

Context: Where you worked, when, who with and in what capacity?
Challenge: What was the problem that needed to be resolved?
Action: What did you do to resolve the issue or improve the situation?
Results: How did the situation improve? Did others recognize you for your efforts?

SES Application requires answering 5 ECQ essay questions and may also include one or more Professional Technical, Technical, or Managerial Qualification essays. The PTQs, TQs and MQs are similar to KSAs. ECQs, however, are unique and very specific, as they are addressed as a group and must address 28 Competencies in the proper areas within the 5 overall questions. While other essays focus on what you did and the results, ECQs use the CCAR format to highlight how you lead. You must show what steps you took to develop and promote a vision for strategic change or reduce conflict. How did you maintain external awareness and use political savvy to identify decisions makers with the authority to support your position and build a coalition? What programs and policies did you implement to boost morale and develop your people?

Note that the terms used in the information requested often have different definitions that are normally understood. For example, the topic for ECQ 3 is Results Driven, but it 6 includes subtopics such as Decisiveness, Entrepreneurship and Technical Credibility. The last does not necessarily mean use of technology, it means you understands and appropriately apply the principles, procedures, regulations and policies in your field of expertise. So if you are a contract manager who is known for solid understanding of contracting law, regulations and procedures and you can apply them properly in a variety of situations, you can demonstrate your Technical Credibility.

NOTE: ECQs simply cannot be successfully written without a thorough knowledge and understanding of the federal SES guide. If any one of the competencies is not sufficiently addressed, the application will be rejected (although in some cases, if there is a minor question, the ECQs will be returned with one additional chance to submit revisions).

The 5 ECQs include:

  1. Leading Change: How do you develop and implement strategic change within an organization?


    • Creativity and Innovation
    • External Awareness
    • Flexibility
    • Resilience
    • Strategic Thinking
    • Vision
  2. Leading People: How do you design and implement strategies to maximize employee potential, build teamwork and reduce conflict in an inclusive work environment that values diversity?


    • Conflict Management
    • Leveraging Diversity
    • Developing Others
    • Team Building
  3. Results Driven: How do you solve problems and identify new opportunities for organizational improvement?


    • Accountability
    • Customer Service
    • Decisiveness
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Problem Solving
    • Technical Credibility
  4. Business Acumen: How do you administer human, financial, and Information Technology resources to ensure success?


    • Financial Management
    • Human Capital Management
    • Technology Management
  5. Building Coalitions: How do you identify key decision-makers, understand the internal and external politics, and influence stakeholders to build coalitions and secure agreements?


    • Partnering
    • Political Savvy
    • Influencing/Negotiating

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