What is the Plum Book and how can it help you?

With 2012 being an election year, we can look forward to a new version of the Plum Book. Earning its name because of its distinct color, the Plum Book is officially called “The United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions” and has been published after every presidential election since 1960.

The book provides a listing and overview of Civil Service leadership and support positions in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government that may be subject to non-competitive appointments. Not only does the book list both filled and vacant positions, including Senior Executive Service (SES) positions, but it actually provides the names and salaries for each individual in these positions.

When you consider the timing of the book’s release, some people view the Plum Book as an inventory of positions that the incoming administration may want to fill with new talent. Some people find this information fascinating, while others see it as less practical, and more of just a reference guide. That may be because it lists the jobs the outgoing administration filled, but there is no guarantee that a new administration will fill or even keep all the positions listed.

So, if you are a federal leader who is researching the SES landscape, networking and devising your own career plans, this might not be the authoritative source for you to find “live” and open SES positions. USAJOBS.gov is still the best way to find those.

But the Plum Book might be a nice tool to add into your career toolbox. After all, it is a comprehensive publication by the United States Senate’s Committee on Governmental Affairs and the House of Representatives’ Committee on Government Reform. As such, it may help you to deepen your understanding and broaden your perspective of what opportunities may exist – and that certainly can’t hurt.

Once the Plum Book is published, you can purchase your own copy online at the U.S. government bookstore: http://bookstore.gpo.gov/.

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 T.V. 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 book, Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service: How to Find SES Jobs, Determine Your Qualifications, and Develop Your SES Application.

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