Yes I know, even for the best of us, sometimes answering those questionnaires and KSAs can seem like a daunting task when completing your federal application.
Narrative statements are supplemental statements the federal government uses to evaluate an applicant’s candidacy. Examples include Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA); Mandatory Professional or Technical Qualifications (MTQ / MPQ); or Executive Core Qualifications (ECQ) for Senior Executive Service (SES) positions.
If you are applying for similar types of positions, which you should be doing, here are some tips to make it easier for you to ease your writers block and answer the questions with impact and relevance.
1. Thoroughly review the vacancy and the preview questionnaire. Go through the entire application to make sure you review all of the questions associated with the announcement.
Copy and past the questionnaire into word or a text editor. This way you are not trying to answer the questions on the fly in the online application manager. It may be an extra step, but it will save you lots of time and frustration in preparing your resume, KSAs and even helping you determine if the position is right for you.
2. Make a list of your greatest accomplishments (as they relate to the area of expertise for the position). For each accomplishment list, ask yourself the who, what, when, where and why questions.
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What was the accomplishment? (Led a program, implemented a new process, created the budget.) What was the result of the accomplishment? What challenge was present and then resolved? What actions were taken? What steps were taken? Give concrete, steps here. For example, don’t just state you had meetings. State you “scheduled weekly team members for the task force where you addressed the project milestones” which included: example, example, example. State you tracked the performance weekly and escalated any problems within a 24 hour period.
Who? (Who accomplished this – you solo, you as a team? you as leader?)
When? What was the timeframe? Was this a year long process?
Where? Was it a local, national, multi-site, regional, global? The more detail you give to determine the scope of the accomplishment the better. Why? Why was this problem important to solve?
How were others affected? Impacted?
For results – Quantify as much as possible. How much revenue was realized? Budget saved? Number of resources reduced? Fewer problems? Better ratings? Raise? Promotion? Recognition? Lessons learned. Even if you failed, frame the lessons learned in a way that shows the reader you understand the failure and used that to build future success.
By using the building blocks of accomplishments, you can build a strong database of KSAs, TQs that can be repurposed easily to specifically target each application. For those already in federal roles, you can add current projects to update the KSAs as a strong candidate for the next level.
3. Speak ‘em out loud as you write them. Picture yourself answering the question in a face to face interview situation; even better yet, I’ve actually recorded clients’ responses to get the detail and passion needed to make their KSAs stand out. You can easily record yourself on a digital recorder or on your own voicemail for that matter.
All three steps will not only help you stand out from the crowd but will also prepare you for interviews so you can Land That Federal Job.
CAREEREALISM Expert, Daphne Houston has been in the careers and employment business for over 15 years, helping hundreds of government and non-government clients land jobs and thrive in successful careers. Her certifications include: Certified Federal Resume Specialist, Certified Federal Job Search Trainer, Certified Federal Career Consultant, Certified Job Search Specialist, Certified Performance Based Hiring Expert, and Professional Human Resources.
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