Title Card - Applying Federal Government Positions

Applying For Canadian Federal Government Positions

Anyone who has ever applied for a job in the Canadian government knows how daunting it can feel. The majority of all federal jobs are posted on the same portal, the GC Jobs website, carrying a relatively standardized format to them. However, just because these applications follow similar guidelines on how they are filled out, this does not mean that they can be breezed through after you have a few applications under your belt. Just like every job, each posting has its own nuances that differentiates it from others, and requires your detailed attention to ensure you are answering their questions according to the job you are applying for. After all, if they were all the same job that needed one standardized answer between them, there would only ever be one posting!

There are a number of sections that are likely to appear in each application. Let’s have a look at them:

1) Notice

There is usually one of these at the top of every application and does not require your attention other than understanding what is in it. This is all the legal stuff that basically says to make sure your application is truthful, and outlines the consequences if you don’t. Honesty is always the best policy!

2) Résumé and Employee Information

If you are not a federal employee already, the Résumé line usually appears on its own. This allows you to paste your résumé into an entry field, which can then be saved to your profile for future use. Further applications can use the résumé on your profile by choosing “load résumé from profile”, automatically populating the box. When uploading your résumé for the first time, make sure that it is formatted nicely! Remember that it is being pasted in basic text format, and it is up to you to ensure it looks nice!

The Employee Information option will appear when you are already an employee of the federal government, and only appears on internal job postings. This consists of a few questions regarding your employment status, like the department you work for, the group and level you belong to (ex: CS-01 is level of Computer Science), where you work, and your government ID number (called a PRI). You will only have to worry about this section when you are applying to other jobs after earning one.

3) Covering Letter

This section usually consists of a text box where one can provide a requested cover letter for a position. Nothing fancy here, the usual format of cover letter will do, and much like the résumé, it is your responsibility to ensure the cover letter is formatted nicely and has relevant wording and content for the application.

4) Screening Questions

This is where you will spend the grand majority of your time on each application. Screening questions involve asking questions about your relevant experience. Some of these questions are deemed to be essential, and if you answer that you do not have the experience in the listed question, you will not be able to submit the application. It is especially important to read the question extremely carefully, and answer every part of the question. If it asks you for your experience and where, when, and how you gain the experience, you better have those answers somewhere in the question or it is likely that your answer won’t be acceptable to the hiring committee. There is also a limit to how much you can put into these answer boxes, so it is also important that while you are including everything, you are also being succinct in your responses.

When you do enough applications, you will start to see repeated questions among similar types of jobs. This is completely normal, and it is usually a good idea to save your responses from previous applications in documents so you can paste them into your new application and make any necessary alterations based on the needs of the question. This can save you large amounts of time, especially when completing many applications.

5) Text

Similar to the screening questions, you will often find long-form questions here if they ask for them. These will usually consist of “in x words or less” type questions where they expect you to elaborate on your answer and go into detail on one topic. Treat these similarly to screening questions, and don’t be afraid to elaborate on some of your previous answers from other screening questions here!  Just because it’s a different section, does not mean it’s unhelpful to reuse relevant responses!

6) Work Locations

Depending on the posting, this section will either consist of every possible work location available in the federal government, or whittled down to just the possible work locations for the specific posting. This is NOT saved between postings! You will have to choose your work locations on every posting, and trust me when I say it is definitely not fun when you have to go through the full list over and over again. I highly encourage you to thoroughly examine the full list once and save a document with all the locations you would be willing to work at or relocate to. That way, you can check off the list quickly and easily the next time you are confronted with a massive list.

7) Classification

These are the groups and levels mentioned earlier in the employee information. Getting a solid understanding of what these are and what you are shooting for is key to understanding what jobs you should be applying to. Again, you will have to choose the classifications you want to apply for if multiple apply in the posting (and often it will), so be sure you understand what types of jobs you want before searching.

8) Education

This one is pretty straightforward. Essentially, you can list all of your education in this convenient location, and it will be saved to your profile after the first time you enter it. No repetition needed!

9) Languages

Although you may speak more than just English and French, these are the two languages this section will almost always ask you about, as they are the two official languages of the government. It will ask you about your proficiency in each language and which language you prefer to get your correspondences and tests in. This section is also saved between applications.

10) Employment Equity

The federal government does their best to ensure that they are providing opportunities for those who belong to four recognized minority groups: women, aboriginals, members with disabilities, and visible minorities. This section is completely voluntary, and you can choose not to claim representation even if you do belong to one of those groups.

These ten sections are the majority of what you will find in federal government applications, but there are others that do appear from time to time. There are also applications that are made through certain departments’ special jobs sites, but these will usually also be posted on the GC Jobs site. The most important thing is to take your time, answer well, and ensure you give each application the same time and consistency as your first application. With enough time, you will soon find the success you are looking for!