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State of California Hiring Questions and Answers

Here you'll find answers to some of the most common questions we receive in State of California hiring units. There isn't a theme here, just a random collection of the frequent questions we receive.

1) Do I have to take an exam to get a State of California Job?

In almost all cases, you'll need to take an exam to get a state government job in California. An exam is generally considered to be the first step in the hiring process. By passing an exam, a candidate becomes eligible for that classification. After passing an exam you are able to apply for vacant positions.

There are, however, a few exceptions. The State has a number of non-testing classifications. One of the most common among these is Student Assistant. Student Assistant positions do not require candidates to have eligibility which means they don't have to take an exam. There are still minimum qualifications for the classification, however.

Other non-testing classifications in the State of California include Graduate Student Assistant, Agricultural Aide and Maintenance and Service Occupational Trainee.

Read more about the State of California Exam Process for more info on this complex topic.

2) How Many People Work for the State of California?

According to the State Controller's Office, the State of California has around 232,000 employees. This includes about 210,00 full-time, 2,000 part-time and 20,000 intermittent employees.

3) Who is the Largest Employer for State jobs in California?

Within the State, not including the University of California or California State University systems, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is the largest with around 56,000 employees. After CDCR it is the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) with around 21,000 employees and the Department of State Hospitals with around 11,000.

4) Why Do People Want to Work for the State?

People want to work for the State of California for a number of reasons. Public service jobs are usually considered to be more stable and "recession proof" than private sector jobs. While not immune to economic downturns, public sector employees are less likely to face layoffs or reductions in pay and work hours during a recession.

State of California jobs also have some amazing benefits. Employees have great health insurance options, retirement benefits, generous paid time off and much more.

Most State employees, especially those coming from the private sector, will tell you that government jobs allow them a better work-life balance.

5) How Often are State of California Employees Paid?

The majority of State of California Employees are paid monthly. There are some exceptions, including employees in bargaining unit 18 and certain classifications with the Department of Water Resources and Caltrans.

You can find this year's pay days on the California Job Blog.

6) What is the STD 678 State application?

The STD 678 is the standard application for California state jobs and exams. You will use this application when you are applying for vacant positions or to take an exam. The application has sections for your contact information, education and work history, references, and licenses.

The application is a legal document that a hiring analyst will review to determine if you meet the minimum qualifications for the classification you are applying to. Fill it out thoroughly. It is acceptable for a hiring department to use how well an application is completed as a factor in their hiring decisions.

Read more about the State of California job application to master this crucial part of the hiring process.

7) How Long Does It Take to Get a State Job?

This question is kind of hard to nail down, but a fair estimate is 6 weeks from the final filing date listed on the job bulletin. All State job bulletins have a final filing date or are listed as until filled. Applicants should expect to hear something from the hiring department 2-3 weeks from this date. Qualified candidates will be notified about the next step in the hiring process. Usually this is an interview. Non-qualified (or under-qualified) candidates will be informed that they were not selected.

Hiring timeframes can differ significantly depending on the classification and/or department candidates are applying to. Peace Officers, for example, undergo much more rigorous pre-employment clearances, which can often add months to the process. Some departments require potential hires to complete a criminal record background check which also takes additional time.

But for a typical State office job, candidates can expect the process to take 4-8 weeks with 6 being a reasonable expectation.

8) What is a Statement of Qualifications?

A Statement of Qualifications (SOQ) is a document that hiring departments use to "screen" applicants to determine who is the most qualified. Not every position you apply for will require an SOQ. If it is required, the job bulletin will indicate that it must be submitted and provide instructions for how it should be written.

It is becoming more common to see hiring departments requiring an SOQ along with an application, and its importance should not be overlooked. Being able to craft a thorough and well-written SOQ will make candidates much more likely to hired. The SOQ is not the same as a resume. An SOQ, resume and State Application (STD 678) are all separate documents with distinct information.

Read more about how to create a well-crafted Statement of Qualifications and get a great California state job!

9) Where do State Employees Work?

There are state government jobs in every county in California. The CalCareers website has a great tool that allows candidates to do a geographical job search to find openings in the locations they choose.

10) Do California State employees get reimbursed for travel?

Yes. Some travel can be paid for up front, and some is reimbursed. The type of travel and distance from your home will determine if it will be paid by the State. Each bargaining unit has their own stipulations for paid travel, so make sure to check yours. For general car travel, State employees can be reimbursed at the IRS mileage rate of 65.5 cents per mile in 2023.

Thanks for reading!

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