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PolyWogg’s Completely Informal and Totally Unofficial Guide to Competing for Jobs in the Canadian Federal Government
It is now time to get to the real meat of this book, and where we start to get into the nitty-gritty of how to succeed in federal competitions. The next seven chapters (6-12) break the part that you as a candidate experience into smaller and smaller chunks. This is a very high-level overview, just to tell you what’s coming. Often when I’m doing presentations, this is where I start, but invariably I end up having to digress to go back and fill in some of the examples and lessons from the previous chapters as context to understand some sub-element. Since I had the luxury of space and time here in this guide, I wrote whole chapters that I can just refer back to as needed rather than pulling away from the main process here. Over the next seven chapters, here is what you will learn:
- Chapter 6: Finding out about jobs
- This chapter will mainly talk about the formal websites and systems in place to alert you when jobs are posted and available. However, this is not the only mechanism, so a few other tips and tricks are included.
- Chapter 7: Applications
- It still baffles me that people sending in applications can do them so badly. An application includes two things — a cover letter and a resume. And people mess them up. Sometimes it is because they read a private-sector-oriented website about jobs and cover letters and try to keep it to a page — this is NOT how government applications work, so many people get screened out because they listened to the wrong advice. This chapter will tell you exactly what to do, some minor variations if you want to be creative, and some very clear things NOT to do.
- Chapter 8: Written exams
- Written exams are not usually that difficult to prepare for, partly as they are almost always about testing your knowledge. And the knowledge can’t be esoteric stuff that nobody would know, it has to be readily available and knowable, and often a bit generic, so that people can be tested on their general knowledge, and leave the really heavy stuff until you start and can learn on the job (to some extent). There are some key resources everyone should know and use, plus some specific stuff for specific types of jobs.
- Chapter 9: Interviews
- For me, this is the area that is the most fun, the most dynamic, and generally, the one that stresses people out the most. There’s a joke that some comedians have used that public speaking and job interviews are often greater fears for people than death, so if you were to kill someone on the way to an interview where they would have to do some public speaking, they would thank you for saving them from what to them is literally a fate worse than death. Interviews in the government are knowable, predictable, and generally structured all in the same way. Not only are there tips to survive them, there are tips to ace them too.
- Chapter 10: References
- Once the process part is almost over, they’ll ask you for 2-6 references. Usually it is three, and they’ll contact two of them. Sometimes it is specified who they are, such as your last two direct supervisors. Regardless, not only are there tips on choosing your references if there is flexibility, but also how to prepare your references to be able to better respond to questions about your performance during the reference check.
- Chapter 11: Language tests
- Just before a process ends, usually as close to the end as possible (I’ll explain why later), you will have to undergo a language test to ensure you meet the requirements of the position. Note that you are NOT being tested on your mother tongue, so it really is a “second language test”, but often they don’t mention the “second” part. Tips on how to pass the language test are way beyond the scope of this guide, but you should know what to expect.
- Chapter 12: Special tests
- There are also some special tests, usually administered by the Public Service Commission, that are frequently used by various departments. Some of them test writing, general intelligence or analytical abilities, or even suitability for the foreign service. I won’t cover them all, but I’ll talk a little about each and how you might prepare for them.
That’s it, that’s all. Seven chapters to get you from finding a job notice to the language test at the end of the process, with a bunch of stops along the way.