Navigating the Executive Landscape: Balancing Personal Branding and SES Fit

The words Navigating the Executive Landscape: Balancing Personal Branding and SES Fit are superimposed over an image of a man with glasses, grey hair and a beard. He is wearing a suit, and sitting forward in front of a window.

‘Personal branding for senior executives’. You’ve probably heard it talked about before. You might have even brushed it off. Chances are if you’re an executive leader in the public service, and are starting to look at what more senior opportunities are available, it’s become a lot more relevant! 

At this stage, your career journey has likely been marked by numerous achievements, a stellar reputation, and a vast professional network. Now, you need to learn more about how to write an SES level resume, and how to be more competitive for executive positions. You need to be prepared to capitalise on networking opportunities and Acting SES positions with a resume that properly articulates your leadership and executive skill. 


Luckily, this is our specialty at The Elite Collective. We’ve created a free downloadable guide to crafting a compelling value proposition. Between that guide and this article, we will explore how to highlight your achievements authentically, infuse your personality into your resume, and position yourself as a strong contender for executive positions

What You Need to Move into an SES Role

Here are some key elements you need to have lined up:


A Sponsor: Having a sponsor within your organisation can significantly enhance your chances of moving into the SES. A sponsor is someone who advocates for you, provides guidance, and is willing to speak your name in the rooms you aren’t in yet.

Acting SES Opportunities: Taking on acting roles at the SES level can be a valuable experience. It allows you to demonstrate your capabilities, gain exposure to senior leadership responsibilities, and showcase your readiness for permanent SES positions.

Understanding the Application Process: The application process for SES positions is rigorous and often involves multiple stages, including written applications, assessments, and interviews. Familiarise yourself with the requirements, selection criteria, and key competencies for SES roles, and have conversations with peers and mentors who can guide you.

Personal Branding: Your personal brand plays a crucial role in your SES aspirations. Ensure that your resume, LinkedIn profile, and professional presence reflect your leadership qualities, achievements, and vision for the future. Start reflecting on the questions posed in our free guide so that you can highlight your unique value proposition and align it with the expectations of SES roles.

Networking and Relationship Building: Building strong networks within and outside your organisation can open doors to SES opportunities. Attend industry events, engage with senior leaders, and seek mentorship from established executives to expand your professional circle and gain insights into the environment.

The Qualities of Exceptional Senior Executive Leaders

Exceptional senior executive leaders in the APS embody key qualities outlined in the Secretaries’ Charter of Leadership Behaviours. The Secretaries’ Charter of Leadership Behaviours was released in 2022, and builds on the Integrated Leadership System and APS Leadership Capability Framework.

It focuses on behaviours that support modern systems leadership within the construct of the APS Values and Code of Conduct, and sets out the behaviours Secretaries expect of themselves and SES, and want to see in leaders at all levels of the APS.


These behaviours include:

Be Dynamic: An exceptional leader in the APS is dynamic, with an inquiring mind that drives innovation and change. They understand the system they operate in and continuously explore new ways to achieve optimal outcomes.

Be Respectful: Respect is at the core of effective leadership. Exceptional leaders treat others with decency and embrace diversity, actively seeking out differing perspectives to foster inclusivity and enable everyone to contribute their best.

Have Integrity: Integrity is non-negotiable for senior executive leaders. They are open, honest, and accountable, taking responsibility for their actions and holding themselves and others to high ethical standards.

Value Others: Exceptional leaders value the contributions and perspectives of others. They actively listen, collaborate, and empower their teams, building relationships based on trust, respect, and mutual understanding.

Empower People: Empowering others is a hallmark of effective leadership. Exceptional leaders trust, empower, and grow their teams, providing support and guidance while allowing individuals to take ownership of their work and grow professionally.

From Formal to Friendly: Crafting a Resume that is 'You'

Do you ever wonder if your resume is too formal? Are you being positive, or are you being too boastful?

Won’t everyone speak to the same behavioural indicators? So how do you set yourself apart from the rest of the applications,  when everyone’s going to be trying to refer to the same guiding documents and language?


It’s pretty simple, really. We weave together some storytelling, personal attributes, and hard data to quantify those claims.  


Yes – we want to show off your strategic prowess.

Yes – we must demonstrate your commercial acumen.

Yes – we will quantify claims with numbers and outcomes.


But storytelling and nods to your personal attributes throughout the resume are what will add depth to the resume and take it that ‘step further’.


To do this well at The Elite Collective, we take leaders through a mapping process to identify key themes in their careers. Following that, we incorporate their personal attributes, leadership style, and career themes alongside the ILS behavioural indicators and qualities from the Secretaries Charter of Leadership into their resumes and applications.


We wrap those things around the outcomes and achievements we’ve extracted, use them to showcase the individual’s strategic prowess and commercial acumen.


By showing how their personal attributes set their execution and leadership apart, and directly influence the quantifiable outcomes in their documents, there’s a lovely balance that sets our clients apart from other applicants.  

Download our Free Guide

At The Elite Collective, we understand the importance of personal branding in your career journey, and we write documents that tell a compelling story, and highlight your strengths, values, and vision.

We’ve created a free, comprehensive guide that will help you highlight your unique value proposition and align it with the expectations of SES roles on your resume. This guide is your roadmap to success, providing actionable insights and strategies tailored specifically for executive leaders.



But why stop there?



Take Your Career Further with The Elite Collective


Our personalised services are designed to elevate your profile, showcase your strategic prowess, and land you those coveted roles. With our expertise and tailored approach, you can confidently navigate the executive landscape, craft powerful resumes, and position yourself as a strong contender for senior executive positions. Don’t settle for generic applications. Let us help you unleash your full potential and achieve your career goals.


Contact us today to discover how we can transform your career trajectory and unlock new opportunities in the public service.



Let’s make it happen together.


Adriana Modersitzki

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