Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Candidate Development Program (CDP)

Have you ever thought about landing a Senior Executive Service (SES) position someday? If so, you are not alone. Many people apply for SES positions, and many more hope they’ll be ready “someday.” But while a positive expectation is a great attitude to have, hope alone won’t get you the job. And just climbing the ranks up to GS-15 won’t necessarily get you the job, either.

Being an accomplished GS-15 will certainly help when you apply, but these SES positions are highly competitive. To stand out, you must submit an application package that is comprehensive and compelling, and that shows your proficiency in the five Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs)—and possibly even some technical areas.

While working your way up the federal ranks, you should take bold initiative when you can. Seek challenging opportunities that stretch your vision and broaden your perspectives. If you are a GS-13/14, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to study the ECQs and the competencies for each. Understand what is expected for the SES, and then be proactive about designing your career.

This sounds great, you may be thinking, but how do you do that? Well, one fantastic idea is to get a head start by participating in a CDP. And it appears that with its new CDP, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is doing some succession planning by training future SESers.

The DHS is seeking GS-13s and 14s with supervisory experience to apply for its new CDP. This intensive leadership development program lasts approximately 12-18 months, and DHS welcomes applicants with various types of expertise. The following excerpt from the vacancy announcement will help to illustrate what a great opportunity this is:

The SES CDP is designed to develop the talents and skills of individuals with executive potential in order to create a cadre of candidates who can assume senior management positions at the SES level as vacancies occur. Successful graduates of the SES CDP are eligible for non-competitive placement into target positions (Core Occupations, Support Occupations, and Law Enforcement), at any DHS component, at the SES level after approval by a DHS Executive Resources Board and certification by an Office of Personnel Management Qualifications Review Board.”

What a great opportunity to propel your career to the next level!  You have what it takes. The time is now.  Step up to the challenge and get your application in. If you don’t, someone else will!

Finally, you can find job-winning, OPM-approved samples of SES application packages and a complete set of ECQ builders in our book, Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service. Get your copy today at or searching the title on

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 radio and as a presenter at numerous career conferences. 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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