Getting Civilly Served: Jobs in Your Local Government Offices

I get these questions pretty regularly, like, “How do I ‘get in’ to working for the city – government – my local municipality?”

The short answer: apply to jobs with an amazing cover letter & resume filled with experience relevant to the position, and take civil service exams appropriate to your experience and what you’d like to do. Civil service jobs are generally long term careers that may take weeks to years to obtain – but then they tend to be the kind of jobs you can stay in until you retire.

I’m not saying due to the current financial state of the US government & related jobs are all secure – but no jobs are.

To see exam info check the website of whatever area you want to work in (posted a few months in advance of offering date, be sure you’re free!) or there are some that are walk-in. Usually exams tend to be offered on Saturdays, but you can have it moved with a  letter from a religious leader if needed (I’ve done it a bunch of times). Then they push it off to the Sunday following the exam generally.

For all US: http://www.usajobs.gov

For a pretty large list of local NY State government exams, see: http://www.labor.ny.gov/stats/cslist.shtm

For NYC DCAS Exam info & online application are here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcas/html/employment/civilservice_exams.shtml

Town of Hempstead, Nassau County: http://toh.li/civil-service-commission/examination-announcements

Suffolk County, Long Island: https://apps.suffolkcountyny.gov/civilservice/Efiling/Default.aspx

*Working smarter tip: If you plan to apply to numerous exams for jobs, save your job responsibilities & info to a word or excel doc you can cut & paste from. When you apply to additional exams it does not save your info (yes even though you need to make a login), and it will save you a lot of unnecessary typing.

Each position has minimum requirements that you must meet, some may be physical, experience, education or residency requirements of a certain length when you apply for the position – otherwise you’re out your registration money. They don’t generally refund you if you don’t qualify and will notify you by mail a few weeks later  – or they may just not put you on the list, even if you’ve taken the exam.

Exams vary in cost, but I believe they’re all under $100, which is an incredible investment if you can do well on a timed multiple choice test, since one year after appointment you get “permanency” which is more job security than you’ll get anywhere else. The salaries aren’t the most incredible, but are strong for non-profits, and the benefits & early retirement are great. 55-60ish retirement with a pension? You won’t find that too many other places nowadays.

What if you have disabilities? They offer a lot of accommodations, so don’t be alarmed about the test part, look into if they can accommodate you or if you can get an exemption to get on a list without an exam.

What if you can’t afford the fee? If you qualify for certain government benefits, you may be able to get the fee reduced or waived.

Where do I find New York City jobs listed? Don’t expect to memorize this website:

http://www.nyc.gov/portal/site/nycgov/menuitem.c000402d63e84407a62fa24601c789a0/index.jsp?cf01pg=1&cf01sz=10

What are the next steps?

The lists of people who passed the exam are ranked (first by score, then by last 4 digits of your social security #). Then when there are vacancies agencies will call you when they have an opening for an interview. Expect very short notice, usually a few days in advance. You’ll be asked to bring a lot of ID, degrees, proof of employments potentially etc. I believe this is all part of the interview process. If you can’t get your act together quickly, you’re out the opportunity.

The lists can take years, generally about 2, until they are released & names get called, so this is a plan to get a long term permanent career – not the way to go if you need a job next week/month.

Good luck!

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