How to apply to the federal government
Find the information you need at www.Canada.ca/gcjobs
by Heidi Riley
A public information session hosted by the federal Public Service Commission and various government departments was held recently in Charlottetown.
Grace Stoddart, who works for the Atlantic Regional Office of the Public Service Commission in Halifax, was on hand to guide potential applicants through the process of applying for work with the public service. “There is a ton of jobs available with the federal public service, and you are sure to find something that suits your interest and experience,” says Grace.
“A few years ago, there was a drop in hiring in the public service due to budget constraints, but now a great many retirements are coming up. The Public Service is looking to the future and hiring the next generation of public servants.”
General tips for applying
- Create an account, and input your contact information, education, and your resumé. Your resumé will be retained on file so that you can upload your resumé to each application.
- Log into your account to apply.
- Sign up for job alerts. This program will automatically send an email to alert you to open positions that fit your profile.
- Check federal government and various department social media accounts: they use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to promote job openings.
- Visit www.Canada.ca/gcjobs to find a list of available jobs, which can be searched by location. Search Prince Edward Island to see all the jobs available on the Island.
- The job ad: Jobs are described as casual, term (for a set amount of time), or indeterminate (permanent). Jobs are generally open to Canadian citizens, persons residing in Canada, and Canadian citizens residing abroad.
- Essentials for the job: be sure to carefully read the whole job ad to see what skills are essential and which are considered assets.
- Language profile: About 55 percent of positions in the federal government require English only, about 40 percent are bilingual imperative, and less than five percent are French only. Bilingual imperative jobs are classified like this: BBB/BBB, which corresponds to the reading, writing, and oral proficiency of your second and your first official language. To get an idea of your level of language proficiency, sample tests are available online. Google Public Service Commission Second Language Evaluation test.“There is a high concentration of bilingual jobs available in Quebec and in the National Capital Region (Ottawa and Gatineau), but there are many jobs available for those who are not bilingual,” says Grace. “In geographic areas where there are not as many bilingual people, there is a higher percentage of English-only jobs. In Quebec, there is a higher percentage of French-only jobs.”
- Employment Equity – If you are an indigenous person, a person with disabilities, a member of a visible minority group or a woman, you have the option of indicating that on your application. Some jobs may be targeted to one of those categories.
- Make sure the closing date has not passed. However, some job postings have no closing date because there is ongoing continuous recruitment.
- Before you apply to a job ad, follow all the instructions and read the job ad carefully to make sure you meet all the essential qualifications listed.Be clear and precise in your application. Provide specific examples to demonstrate how you meet the essential qualifications listed. For example, if an essential qualification is proficiency in Microsoft Word, elaborate on how you used the program and avoid general terms. Describe your work experience starting at the most recent, and provide exact dates. Do not use “we” – say what you did. Use action words such as developed, coordinated, produced, ran. When you cut and paste your information from the resumé into the job application, make sure that the format has not changed.
- Make sure you submit only what is asked for. Submit a cover letter only if requested. If you are asked to submit a cover letter, make sure the information on the resumé matches the information on the cover letter. The cover letter should give detailed examples of how your experience matches each essential qualification listed in the job ad. Applicants may be asked to complete an Unsupervised Internet Test, which is completed online at home.
- Submit the application before the deadline. Don’t wait until the last minute to apply, because the application process is fairly lengthy.
- Screening questions can relate to both the essential and the assets listed on the application. After answering the screening questions and submitting the application, the initial screening is done by computer. If you answered no to any of the essential qualifications, you will be screened out.
- During the hiring process, you can ask for assessment accommodations. For example, if you have a visual impairment, you could be given a test presented in a larger font. This accommodation allows you to fully demonstrate the assessed competencies, but will have no impact on your chances of being hired for that position.
- To find out about the status of your application, and the jobs you have applied to in the past, visit your job profile. It may say you have been screened out or that your application has been retained and you will be contacted if further assessment is required.
- The next level of screening will be done by an HR person or the hiring manager. They look at your application, check if you have the essential qualifications, and verify your answers against your resumé. If you said you were proficient in Microsoft Word in your screening questions but there are no examples of that skill listed on your resumé, you will be screened out or you may be contacted for more information. “It is important to align your resumé with the essential qualifications listed on the job ad.”
- The next step is an assessment, which could include an interview, testing, and reference checks. Very technical positions may require a knowledge test. Assessments for administrative positions may focus on soft skills. You could be interviewed by telephone or in person by a panel of at least two people who will be taking notes. You will be asked questions about the qualifications, and your answers will be given a rating.
- At the bottom of the job ad, there will be contact information to use when inquiring about the progress of your application
- A job offer will be made to the successful candidate, or the competition may be used to set up a pool of candidates to be hired for multiple positions. Make sure your e-mail service does not have a filter that could block emails from the public service.
Programs to recruit new applicants to the Federal Public Service
Federal Student Work Experience program (FSWEP) is a great way to get your foot in the door at the public service and to try out a job to see if you like it.
FSWEP is for full-time students who will be continuing their studies in the next academic term. There is no age limit for applicants. Across Canada, about 7,000 students are hired through this program every year. To start the application process, google gc jobs or visit www.canada.ca/en/public-service-commission/jobs/services/gc-jobs.html.
Co-op and Internship program opportunities are not posted online. If you are a student and enrolled in a co-op program, these opportunities will be posted in the co-op office at your university or college.
Research Affiliate program opportunities are more specialized. This program provides post-secondary students with opportunities to conduct innovative research and gain experience with federal organizations.
Post-Secondary Recruitment campaign offers entry-level and mid-level opportunities for work in the Public Service. To apply, you need a post-secondary degree. There is no age limit, and it does not matter if you graduated recently or years ago. The annual recruitment campaign starts every September and lasts about three weeks.
Check the website for closing dates for positions in the program’s trades and technical fields, labour career streams, and the IT and Information Management career streams.
Policy Leaders campaign: Because they are senior level positions, there is a rigorous recruitment process for hiring policy-related positions. Applicants need to have a Masters degree and various levels of experience. Due to the nature of these positions, many are located in Ottawa, but there are some located across Canada. For more information, google Recruitment of Canadian Policy Leaders.
There are also other specialized recruitment campaigns run by other government departments, such as the Border Services Officer program, which runs continuously.
Another way to find a government job: networking
“If you are not part of the public service and would like to work for the Government of Canada, networking can be beneficial,” says Grace. “If you are a student hired through one of the student programs, networking is essential, because there are opportunities to be hired into a permanent position. It is important to make contact with your colleagues and your manager and let them know you want to continue your career with the Public Service.”
Employing casual workers is an option to meet short-term, unforeseen and urgent operational needs of the organization. Casuals can work up to 90 working days (about four and a half months) with the same department in a calendar year. Casual positions are not posted online.
“These positions come up frequently. This is where networking can come in. If you know someone who works in government and you are looking for a job, ask them what opportunities are available.”
For more information on casual work, visit www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/staffing/public-service-workforce/casual-worker.html.
Some federal departments with a presence on PEI
- ACOA (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency): www.acoa-apeca.gc.ca
- Canadian Forces: www.forces.ca
- Employment and Social Development Canada/Service Canada: www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development.html
- Public Services & Procurement Canada: www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca
- Canada Revenue Agency: www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency.html
- Veterans Affairs: www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/about-us/organization/job-postings
- Agriculture and Agrifood Canada: www.agr.gc.ca