by Heidi Riley
Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) is a federal government department that supports the well-being of Veterans and their families, and promotes the recognition and remembrance of the achievements and sacrifices of those who served Canada in times of war, military conflict, and peace.
Included in the department’s role is the delivery of programs such as disability benefits, financial benefits, rehabilitation, pension advocacy, education, and training supports to current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP, and their family members.
The head office of VAC is located in Charlottetown. The VAC PEI District Office is also located in Charlottetown, and there are area and district offices across the country.
VAC has been hiring. Positions open to the public are advertised on the Government of Canada jobs site at www.canada.ca/GCjobs. Some of these are open inventories which are posted to have a pool of potential applicants available to fill future vacancies, and the postings have no closing date or are open for very long periods of time (eg. 2021).
“As positions become available, applicants who meet the initial screening qualifications may be contacted for further assessment,” says Donna Burke, Acting Director, Human Resources, VAC. “Advertisements for specific positions or immediate job openings are also posted on this site. These will have a closing date and may be posted for a short period only.
“Depending on the position, the language requirements of VAC jobs are either English Essential, French Essential, or bilingual imperative. There are various language proficiency levels.”
To get an idea of your level of language proficiency, sample tests are available online. Google Public Service Commission Second Language Evaluation test.
VAC’s staffing authorities are delegated to the department by the federal Public Service Commission and legislated by the Public Service Employment Act. Positions available to the public are open to persons residing in Canada and Canadian citizens residing abroad.
There can be an exception to who can apply for these jobs. VAC may identify a certain group to achieve a representative and diverse workforce, such as employment equity or Veterans, and this will be indicated on the job posting.
If you belong to one of the designated employment equity groups (Aboriginal peoples, persons with a disability, member of a visible minority group or female) you have the option of indicating that on your application.
Indeterminant jobs are permanent. A term employee has an end date. Casual workers fill a short-term immediate need, and can be hired directly by a department for up to 90 working days in a calendar year, per department. Advertisements on www.canada.ca/GCjobs may list casual opportunities, or you can provide your resumé for consideration for casual work.
“Being hired as a casual worker will give you federal government work experience,” says Donna. “However, as you are not an employee of the department or the public service, you can’t apply for internal job postings, only for jobs open to the public.”
If there is a need for contract work, there is a separate procurement process through Public Works and Government Services Canada. More information can be found at www.buyandsell.gc.ca.
Step one in your job search: set up an account.
- Go to www.canada.ca/GCjobs
- Click How to apply and then Create an account
- Read the privacy notice statement and accept by clicking Continue
- Complete the required fields. Use the same first and last name as on your government issued identification.
- Attach your resumé, and it will be retained on file so that you can upload it to each application.
- You will receive a confirmation email with your unique identifier number. You must log in within two days or the account will expire.
- Once you have validated your account by logging in, you will be directed to the Jobs Menu screen.
Create a job alert
“All positions open to the public to apply at VAC must be posted for a minimum of 24 hours, so it is important to keep an eye on the website,” says Donna. “You can create an email job alert, which will send job postings directly to your email address. You can filter the postings based on a number of refining options such as salary range, classification groups and levels, work location, language, government organizations, and more.”
Applying for a federal government job
- Log into your account. From the My Jobs menu, you can see the positions you have applied for and the status of your applications.
- Visit www.Canada.ca/gcjobs and search for government jobs. You can search jobs by work location, organization, classifications group and level, salary, and so on. Search Prince Edward Island to see the jobs available on the Island.
- Check federal government department websites, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to find job openings that may not be listed on the jobs website.
- “When you apply for a job, follow all instructions and read the job ad carefully to make sure you address the essential and any other qualifications,” says Donna. “Be clear and precise in your application. Provide specific examples to demonstrate how you meet the qualifications you’ve been instructed to address. You need to say what you did, when you did it, who you did if for, why you did it, and how you did it. For example, if you just say you have experience as an executive assistant, a manager can’t assume what you did in that role.”
- Check the closing date. “Applications will not be accepted after that date,” says Donna. Submit the application before the deadline. Don’t wait until the last minute to apply, because the application process can be fairly lengthy.
- Some initial screening may be done by computer. If you answered no to an essential qualification, you will be screened out.
- During the hiring process, persons with disabilities can ask for an accommodation which is designed to remove obstacles during the application or assessment. For example, if you have a visual impairment, you could be given a test presented in a larger font, or be provided a reader service.
- To find out about the status of your application and the jobs you have applied to in the past, log in to your account.
- The next level of screening or assessment will be done by the hiring manager and/or an assessment board, and may include an HR person. They determine if you meet the qualifications you have been instructed to address in your application and may verify information against your resumé. Additional assessment could include an interview, testing, and reference checks. You could be interviewed by telephone or in person.
- A job offer will be made to the successful candidate, and/or the competition may be used to establish a pool of qualified candidates available for future opportunities. Make sure your email service does not have a filter that could block emails from the public service.
Your resumé and references
“When you demonstrate the experiences required on the application, make sure your resumé and cover letter (if instructed to provide one) includes those experiences as well.
“Also, make sure all information is up to date, including your phone number and email address. If the posting asks to provide references, let the reference know that they may be called.”
Advice for people who have applied and are not succeeding
“Keep trying,” says Donna. “Read the advertisement carefully. Follow the instructions, be clear in your application, and be available.
“Don’t screen yourself out. The application process may seem daunting. Just go through step by step. Even if it takes some time, don’t get discouraged. The big thing is to apply and do the best you can. I always tell people: apply apply apply.”
Opportunity for advancement
“There are various mechanisms to potentially move up or around once you are an employee,” says Donna. “Internal job advertisements are open only to employees of the department or the public service.”
Government of Canada jobs: www.canada.ca/en/public–service–commission/jobs/services/gc–jobs/information–candidates.html
Text instructions to apply: www.canada.ca/en/public–service–commission/jobs/services/gc–jobs/how–apply.html