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The State Of California Hiring Process: Frequently Asked Questions

The State's Hiring Process FAQs

1) How do I locate job openings with the State of California? is the place to start your job search. Log in to your CalCareers account, and from the front page of the site, you can search for openings by job title or keyword. The search engine can be a little wonky, so try clicking on Advanced Job Search and select the exact classification you are looking for.

If you are interested in exploring potential opportunities for a specific department, or in a specific location, you can do this from the Advanced Job Search section as well.

It's great to use the site to explore the opportunities the State of California has to offer. But remember, you can only apply for vacancies you have eligibility for. If you need to take an exam, click on the Exam/Assessment Search button below the main search field.

Through your CalCareers account you may also print your application and submit it to the address indicated on the Job Bulletin notice. Although this is perfectly acceptable, submitting your application electronically has many advantages and is why we recommend creating your CalCareers account as the first step for in your job search.

2) What is an eligible list?

An eligible list consists of applicants who have passed all parts of the examination and can be considered for employment, based on their score. Generally, the top three ranks (highest scores) are considered immediately employable and will be contacted first.

If you passed the exam but scored in a low rank, don't get discouraged. As people in the top 3 ranks become employed or are no longer interested in positions, they clear from the list and people in the lower ranks move up.

If you didn't pass the exam, you'll have to wait 6 months or a year to take it again.

3) How do I know what rank I'm in?

When you receive your notice of exam results, it will indicate your total score and the rank on the list this score represents. If you are in Rank 1, 2, or 3, you can immediately begin looking for job openings/vacancies. However, even if you are in lower ranks, you could become reachable as hires are made, and employment preferences for individual positions are not selected by persons in higher ranks.

If you received a contact letter from a hiring department, that means your name was certified on the eligible list and you are reachable for consideration for that position. If you are reachable for a classification but did not receive a contact letter for a position you are interested in, you should still apply. In really common classifications like Office Technician and Associate Governmental Program Analyst, there could be 500 people on an eligible list, but a department only sends contact letters to 100. When looking for a job with the State of California it is important to be proactive. Don't wait for a hiring department to contact you.

4)What is a contact letter?

When the hiring departments use an employment list to fill an open position, it sends employment contact letters to the individuals on the eligible list to determine if they are interested in a position.

Some important information you should know about employment contacts are:

A contact letter is a way of letting you know that a department is recruiting for a classification in which you are eligible for. It is a not an invitation to interview. The contact letter will instruct you to submit an application. If you get a contact letter, you must respond by the date indicated on the letter to be considered for the position. If you do not respond by the date indicated, the department does not have to consider you for the position. Read the letter carefully. There might be additional documents you need to submit with your application packet.

It's also possible that you could be on an eligible list but not receive a contact letter because your Conditions of Employment do not match the specific conditions of the vacancy. If, for example, the position is in Los Angeles county but you don't have that location selected as place you're willing to work, you won't get a contact letter. Your Conditions of Employment can be selected at the time you take an exam, but they can be changed at any time in your CalCareers account. After you've logged in, click Exam/Assessment Records in the left menu then click on the hyperlinked List Code. Click on the Conditions of Employment tab and make the changes you want. Don't forget to save it.

Check out your post about Conditions of Employment for more information.

5) What information should I include on my application?

The application you submit for a job bulletin is your chance to show that you're the most qualified applicant for a position. It is also a reflection of your ability to read, understand and follow directions and your ability to present complete and accurate information. Carefully fill out your application and answer all questions.

Make sure all your contact information is up to date. Hiring departments often disqualify people simply because they can't get in touch with a candidate. Make sure the contact information for your current and previous supervisors is up to date, also. Your application is what will get you in the door for an interview. We have an in-depth article about how to complete your State application (STD 678).

Make sure all required documents are submitted along with your application. There are several different documents that may be required along with your application. We have a great article about all the additional documents you should be aware of on the California Job Blog.

You may include a resume with your application, but it should never be used as a substitute for the information that should be included on your application. If a resume isn't required to apply, there is a good chance that it will never be looked at by the department's hiring team. We have an article about how to write a great State resume if it is required.

If you require Reasonable Accommodation to take a written test or interview, please check the appropriate box on the online application form. If you're selected for an interview, you'll be contacted to make these arrangements.

6) What should I expect in the job interview?

Your interview will be with hiring managers and subject matter experts in the area in which there is an opening. The panel typically consists of 2 – 3 people. The questions will probably a combination of job-specific, technical questions and situational questions to gauge your work ethic and ability to work as part of a team.

If you're selected for an interview, you should have at least a few days to prepare. You should take some time to prepare by studying the position duty statement and learning a little about the department you are applying to. Creating a good State application will get you an interview but having a good interview will get you a job. Read our article about how to ace a state interview to get ready.

7) How will I know if I got the job?

Once you have completed the interview, you will receive notice about whether you have or have not been selected for the particular opening. If you have been selected, a representative from the department's hiring unit will call you to extend a formal offer and process necessary paperwork. After, you'll be called to establish an official start date. If you have not been selected, you will be notified by the Division and encouraged to apply for other positions.

Definitely apply for other positions in the same department if they become available. The interview process is about finding a good match between the department and candidate. And remember, if you weren't qualified you wouldn't have been selected for an interview to begin with.

Thanks for reading!

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  1. Can I apply for a State of Calif job if I am not a US citizen?

    1. Only certain jobs


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