Senior Executive Positions in the Intelligence Field

My SES writing team develops dozens of SES applications each month and, obviously, we see plenty of trends. For example, lately we’ve seen many SES positions in the Intelligence field. In some ways, these vacancies are very similar to other SES openings, and call for a resume, Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs), and, sometimes, several Technical Qualifications (TQs).

But if that isn’t enough, quite often these vacancies also require applicants to respond to “Intelligence Community (IC) Senior Officer Core Qualifications” in a supplemental narrative statement. Specifically, applicants must provide essays that address the three Essential Factors below, which have been pulled directly from a recent job announcement:

IC SENIOR OFFICER CORE QUALIFICATION: You will be assessed against this Senior Officer Core Qualification Standard – Leading the Intelligence Enterprise – to determine your interagency or multi-organizational (business, mission or professional) leadership competencies.

1. Collaboration and Integration. IC senior officers have a responsibility to share information and knowledge to achieve results and, in that regard, are expected to build effective networks and alliances with key peers and stakeholders across the IC and/or with other U.S. Government (USG), state, local, tribal and foreign officials, as appropriate; actively engage these peers and stakeholders; involve them in key decisions; and effectively leverage these networks and alliances to achieve significant results. In addition, senior officers are expected to create an environment that promotes employee engagement, collaboration, integration, information and knowledge sharing, and the candid, open exchange of diverse points of view. Candidates assessed against this competency must demonstrate knowledge, skill and/or ability to:

a. Build, leverage and lead collaborative networks with key peers and stakeholders across the IC and/or in other government/private-sector organizations, or professional/technical disciplines to achieve significant joint/multiagency mission outcomes; and integrate joint/multiagency activities, effectively exercising collaborative plans that realize mutual, joint, or multi-organizational goals.

2. Enterprise Focus. IC senior officers are expected to demonstrate a deep understanding of how the missions, structures, leaders and cultures of the various IC components interact and connect, as well as synthesize resources, information and other inputs to effectively integrate and align component, IC and USG interests and activities to achieve IC-wide, national or international priorities. In addition, senior officers are expected to encourage and support joint duty assignments and developmental experiences that develop and reinforce an enterprise focus among their subordinates. Candidates assessed against this competency must demonstrate knowledge, skill and/or ability to:

a. Understand the roles, missions, capabilities and organizational and political realities of the intelligence enterprise, and apply that understanding to drive joint, interagency or multi-organizational mission accomplishment.

b. Understand how organizations, resources, information and processes within the IC or interagency/multi-organizational environment interact with and influence one another, and apply that understanding to solve complex interagency or multi-organizational problems.

3. Values-Centered Leadership. IC senior officers are expected to personally embody, advance and reinforce IC core values: a Commitment to selfless service and excellence in support of the IC’s mission, as well as to preserving, protecting and defending the nation’s laws and liberties; the integrity and Courage (moral, intellectual and physical) to seek and speak the truth, to innovate, and to change things for the better, regardless of personal or professional risk; and Collaboration as members of a single IC-wide team, respecting and leveraging the diversity of all members of the IC, their background, their sources and methods, and their points of view. In addition, senior officers are also expected to demonstrate and promote departmental and/or component core values, which may be incorporated in writing, as applicable. Candidates assessed against this competency must demonstrate knowledge, skill and/or ability to:

a. Promote, reinforce and reward IC departmental component core values in the workforce and ensure actions, policies and practices are aligned with, and embody, those values.

b. Ensure organizational strategies, policies, procedures and actions give appropriate focus, attention and commitment to diversity of people, points of view, ideas and insights.

As you can see, some of the subsections of each Essential Factor (labeled “(a)” and “(b)” above) overlap or correlate with many of the 28 competencies in the ECQs. Our guidance is that, if you are part of the IC and you see these Essential Factors in the job announcement, don’t ignore them! More importantly, don’t “recycle” the same examples from the ECQs or TQs. The hiring authority will almost certainly notice, and they won’t like it.

You must write and submit separate essays for each of these. Sometimes, they are restricted to two pages and sometimes you are allowed even more space. Check the vacancy announcement, and call to ensure you meet all the specifications. A best practice is to apply the “Brainstorm, Outline, Develop” formula that we’ve discussed in a previous article. This will help you to devise a strategic plan for which examples you will use in each ECQ, TQ and Essential IC Factor. Most importantly, you should do this before you actually begin developing your examples, being more efficient and organized with your valuable time.

Barbara Adams is the President and CEO of CareerPro Global, Inc. (CPG). She has been on the leading edge of SES application development for decades. Committed to providing world-class service, she has also built an SES writing team that has assisted more than 2,500 clients develop their application materials. Ms. Adams has been featured on TV and the radio, and as a presenter at numerous career conferences. CPG recently sent a team to instruct senior officials at Warner Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, in best practices for developing their SES application materials. She is the co-author of the new book, Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service: How to Find SES Jobs, Determine Your Qualifications and Develop Your SES Application.

Posted in Career Tip of the Month

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