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U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Ensuring the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce

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Recruitment & Selection

Merit Staffing

Career Appointments: Initial career appointments to the Senior Executive Service must be based on merit competition. The law requires agencies to establish an Executive Resources Board (ERB) to oversee and participate in the merit staffing process. Generally, the process includes widespread public notification of the job announcement where diverse populations are engaged in the recruitment phase, preliminary review of applications by a human resources specialist, rating and ranking of applicants by a panel with in-depth knowledge of the job's requirements, evaluation of each candidate's qualifications by an Executive Resources Board, and final recommendation to the appointing authority.

Some agencies conduct SES Candidate Development Programs (CDP), which can be another way to qualify for an initial career appointment in the SES.

SES Merit Staffing Process
  1. Agency publicly advertises the position through various methods, including placement on the USAJOBS website for a minimum of 14 days. The area of consideration is qualified Federal Employees only (only current Federal civil service employees may apply) or all qualified persons (anyone may apply).

  2. Candidates submit their applications to the agency.

  3. Agency rating panel reviews and ranks candidates.

  4. Agency Executive Resources Board recommends the best qualified candidates to the selecting official.

  5. Appointing authority makes a choice and certifies that the candidate meets both the technical and executive core qualifications for the position.

  6. Agency submits candidate's application package to an OPM-administered Qualifications Review Board (QRB) for certification of executive core qualifications.

  7. Following QRB certification, agency appoints the candidate to the SES position.

Non-career and limited appointments: Competitive procedures are not required to make non-career and limited appointments. The agency head or his/her designee approves the candidate's qualifications. At least 70% of SES positions Government-wide must be filled by individuals with 5 years or more of current, continuous service immediately before initial SES appointment to assure experience and continuity.