Patrick Simonian is a Lighthouse Lab Web Development bootcamp graduate from Victoria who recently started working for the Ministry of Citizens' Services as an Intermediate Programmer Analyst. We asked Patrick to give us a summary of the steps to success when looking for government employment. Here, Patrick details how the process is different compared to the private sector, as well as what the job application looks like.
What are some good ways to get a foot in the door when applying for government positions?
Your first step is to scan the B.C. Public Service job board like a hawk! You won’t be able to apply if you don’t know about an open position.
If you are interested in working for the government, I'd strongly encourage you to go on tours if they are offered. At my current position, they offer tours about once a month. You'll get to see the working space and, more importantly, meet the people. The staff you meet could end up being the ones evaluating your job application.
What are some general item applicants should know about a government job posting?
When looking at government job postings you should know that the postings are very detailed. That means you need to read the entire postings very thoroughly. Like the public sector, all job posting will state qualification and experience levels. However, even if you don't have the required amount of work or education experience the application is asking for, it's still a great idea to apply!
The key is to shape your resume and demonstrate the way that you are qualified. For example, I applied to both an intermediate and a senior position as a web developer. The senior position was shut down right away! But, for the intermediate position, I was shortlisted. I was able to demonstrate that my combined work and education experience would qualify me for an intermediate role and it worked.
How did you craft your resume?
You have to make your resume fit within the requirements of the job application you want to apply for. The resume process is very different compared to the private sector. It seems to me the private sector looks for a smaller, more concise resume that includes lots of “keywords” that are scanned for during the shortlisting process. In the public sector, they want details.
Within your job experience, you will want to outline things that you have done in your job (current or previous) which demonstrate how you meet the specified requirements. It's best to reiterate exactly what was asked for in those same requirements. Another item to note: the first word should generally be some type of verb - this provides the “how” you meet the requirement.
If everything goes well, you will receive an email explaining that you were selected to continue in the process. Hooray! You've been shortlisted. Now you’re moving on to the assessment stage.
What does the assessment stage look like?
If you've been shortlisted, you will receive an email prompting you to accept the next stage, which is where you will go through an assessment. For developers (in my experience) this entails spending a day or two creating an application based on some type of Agile workflow. On the noted day of the assessment, you will receive an email that contains your assessment.
At this point, the rest is up to you, the assessment could be anything. I'd highly recommend having some boilerplate code or an environment set up and tested to work way before the assessment so you don't waste time trying to get things set up. If you are applying for a full-stack position, prepare yourself by getting your entire full-stack environment set up. If you choose to work with a local database like PostgreSQL, make sure you have PostgreSQL provisioned on your machine.
It would also be a great idea to know and be comfortable with deploying an application using your favourite deployment flow and hosting service in case you are asked too. I've gone with Heroku the past few times and it's been pretty flawless.
After submitting your application you now get to wait and wait and wait….
And after the wait is over?
From here, two possible things could happen. One, you are selected for an interview or two, you did not make the cut. If you didn't make it, don't sweat it! The big difference between government and the private sector is that the government will likely provide you with feedback on why you didn't make it, which can really help you improve for next time.
If you do make it, you get to schedule an interview.
What was the interview process like?
I found this BC Government “guidelines and tips” to be extremely helpful when I was preparing for the interview.
How do you like your current role?
I feel that everyone I’m working with are very happy and motivated. The development style is definitely agile.