How to Get a State Job

To be employed by a State department, an examination must be taken to obtain list eligibility. State civil service exams are open to all regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, marital status, disability, religious or political affiliation, age or sexual orientation. California residency is not required, and U.S. citizenship is required only for peace officer jobs.

In accordance with the California state civil service process, becoming a California State employee consists of five steps:

  1. The examination process
  2. Becoming reachable on a list
  3. Locating a vacant position
  4. Participating in a hiring interview
  5. Probation

Step 1: The Examination Process

Before you can be appointed to a permanent position, you must first take an open competitive examination to obtain list eligibility. Examination bulletins specify information that you will need to review to make sure you meet the minimum qualifications so you can apply to take the exam. The examination bulletins also contain information that tells you how, where, and when to file for a particular exam. To find out more on a particular classification, go to the State Jobs website.

Examinations are given by the State Personnel Board and by individual state departments. The State Personnel Board maintains information on all examinations and copies of the examination bulletins are available at the State Personnel Board, 801 Capitol Mall in Sacramento or on the State’s Exam List.

To apply for an exam, you must complete a State Application Form (STD 678), submitted as indicated on the examination bulletin. State application forms are available from any local Employment Development Department office, any State of California agency and from the State Personnel Board’s website indicated above. If your application meets the minimum qualifications, you will be notified of a test date. Late applications will not be accepted.

Step 2: Becoming Reachable on a List

Successful applicants will be placed on eligible lists, which are divided into ranks by score. Only those that are in reachable ranks may be considered for appointment. Reachable ranks are those employees who are in the top three ranks. If a rank is cleared (all candidates in the rank are either hired or no longer available for employment), the next lowest rank is then considered reachable and those candidates can then be considered for appointment.

Step 3: Locating a Vacant Position

Once you’ve taken an exam and are reachable, the next step is locating a vacant position. There are many ways to obtain vacancy information.

  • Contact letters may be sent to those candidates that are in reachable ranks for current vacancies. In some cases, because there may be several candidates in the same rank, there is a random computer program that will choose the candidates who will receive a contact letter. If you receive a contact letter and fail to reply or decline a job inquiry, your name is placed “inactive” for that eligible list. If you should decline or not respond to three inquiries, your name will be removed from the list.
  • The Vacant Position Database is a service provided by the State Personnel Board that contains information on current vacancies. You may apply for any position advertised in this database for which you have taken and passed the appropriate exam and are in a reachable rank.
  • A departmental vacancy listing is available and can be accessed through this website in the Conservancy Job Opportunities page. Copies of job announcements for vacant positions are also available from the Human Resources Office located at 650 Capitol Mall, Fifth Floor, Sacramento.

Step 4: Participate in a Hiring Interview

An examination is general, for an entire class, but a hiring interview is specific to the particular department. One class can offer a wide variety of opportunities. This process is designed to identify the best job/person match for that position only. Before you go to your interview, you should acquaint yourself with the mission and functions of that department and how the job you are interviewing for contributes. The department has the discretion to hire anyone who is certified to them from an employment list. Unless you are offered a job, your name remains on the eligibility list to be considered for other vacancies.

Step 5: Probation

All newly appointed state employees participate in a probation period which is usually 6 or 12 months depending on the job classification. During this time you will receive training related to your position, and will receive three probationary reports/evaluations tracking how well you are doing on the job. Most employees successfully pass the probationary period and become permanent staff. However, those employees who are not successfully completing their duties should expect to be terminated before the end of the probationary period.

For more information about the examination and civil service process you may want to visit the State Job’s Employment Home Page.