A Guide to Getting a Job with the Canadian Federal Government

federal government application Is a job or promotion in the Federal Government something you're interested in?

A successful application to the Federal Government requires you to go through a few different hoops.

In-depth information on:

  • Tips for Getting a Government Job
  • A breakdown of the Statement of Merit Criteria (SofMC) and why it causes applicants so much trouble
  • What you need to know about the government's definition of "Essential Qualifications" before submitting an application.
  • Explain "Operational Requirements" and "Conditions of Employment."
  • Exactly what must be done to submit a formal application for the job

We have a lot of ground to cover, so let's get started.

Step 1:

Guide to Researching and Applying for Federal Government Positions

Next, we'll discuss how to locate said employment opportunity.

How can you best place yourself to gain entry?

  • Register Create a profile at jobs.gc.ca online.
  • Search After signing up, you'll have access to advanced search tools that allow you to narrow your results by salary range, location, and more. after which you can save your search and avoid having to manually update your results every time.
  • Monitor Make it a habit to log in every day so you don't miss any opportunities.
  • Network Try talking to anyone you know who works for the government about internship or job shadowing possibilities.
  • Educate Find out what is needed to succeed in the positions you are considering. Have you received the proper training and education If you don't, now is a good time to get the credentials you'll need for the right job when it opens up.

The time to start working seriously is after you've decided which jobs you want to apply for.

You need to have a resume that stands out from the crowd and shows exactly why you are the best candidate by meeting all of the requirements.

In addition to preparing for the interview, you should also study for any tests that may be administered.

  • To download my no-cost interview form, visit http://eepurl.com. com/m6cW1 You can use this form as a jumping off point for your interview preparations.
Step 2:

Summary of the Federal Government's Statement of Merit Criteria for Employment

Now that you've found a job you're interested in applying for, you need to check the posting to see if there are any prerequisites for applying, and evaluate yourself based on those requirements.

Statement of Merit Criteria (SofMC) documents are included with every Federal job listing. In this section of the job advertisement, you'll find a detailed list of the assets, skills, and knowledge needed to fill the position. Nonetheless, let's not jump the gun here.

The first step is to fully understand what the hiring manager is seeking by reading the job posting and Statement of Merit Criteria.

Let's dissect it from the very top:

  • When is the deadline for submitting a resume? You will be disqualified if your application is not received by the due date.
  • Who can apply (Selection Region) - Verify your eligibility before submitting an application. Places, government agencies, and similar topics are fair game for this. You need to provide evidence that you belong in the pool of candidates.
  • Purpose of the Procedure - This section explains why the procedure exists. e to fill a single full-time position, to build a pool of potential candidates, to hire one person on a part-time basis with the option of making them permanent, etc.
  • What You Have to Give Us - This is where you'll find the specifics on what info you have to give us and how to give it to us, i.e e when applying for a job, which document(s) (resume/cover letter/both) should you include all of your information in? Verify that you have included all required information in your submission. There are two schools of thought on this: one says that you should highlight your relevant experience and skills on your resume, while another says that you should address each requirement directly in your cover letter. It is your responsibility to fulfill their every need. If you do not meet these requirements, you will be disqualified.
  • Essential Qualifications - These are the things you need to have in order to be considered for the position.
  • Additional training or experience that would be an asset in an applicant's favor but isn't required to be considered for the position.
  • In addition to formal education and relevant work experience, certain soft skills, aptitudes, and character traits may also be necessary for consideration. These are not to be addressed in your resume/cover letter; rather, they will be evaluated as part of the final round of hiring.
  • If you're successful, you'll be able to learn more about the operational requirements and conditions of employment here. Before applying, please read the following sections carefully and ensure that you can fulfill the responsibilities outlined here.
  • A lot of the data you'll need later on in the procedure is provided in the "Other Information" section. e Do you conduct interviews, tests, check references, etc. In order to prepare properly, please read the following instructions in their entirety.
  • Potentially revealing information about who, if anyone, will be given preferential treatment in the hiring process, this section is titled "Preference." e Veteran applicants will be given priority. Be sure to specify your eligibility for the preference in your application if it applies to you.
  • Job-seekers may also find details on employment equity in the advertisement. Be sure to check the requirements and see if you fit them.

Therefore, it is clear that the Statement of Merit Criteria has the potential to be confusing. But that isn't necessarily the case Knowing how to read and understand the job posting can make the process simple. And going forward, that's what we'll do here in this post. So that you know exactly what to expect moving forward, we will dissect each part.

Step 3:

The Importance of Knowing Your "Essential Qualifications" for a Government Job

Once you've read the entire job posting, the next step is to dissect it and go through each individual step. First, you should check that you have all the necessary qualifications. If you do, you'll want to highlight that fact in your application materials.

To be eligible for consideration for a position, you must possess at least the Essential Qualifications. Use this to narrow your search for an appropriate employer before writing your resume or cover letter. Your resume will be eliminated from consideration if you can't prove that you have the bare minimum qualifications. Additional requirements concerning assets and/or eligibility may be listed under "Other Qualifications" or "Asset Qualifications." This can be anything from a degree to a specific set of work experiences that would be helpful but aren't strictly required for the position. Include the assets in your application if you have them.

In order to better understand this, let's dissect it. What are the two most widely accepted requirements?


  • In this part, we'll specify the bare minimum of training required for this position. It could say "high school diploma required" or "degree required" if a bachelor's or master's degree in a relevant field (business, technology, etc.) is required. As an example, it could state that "education and experience" are both acceptable. Be sure to put it front and center in your resume and cover letter, wherever that may be. Please include your high school diploma if you have a degree and a high school diploma is required. You might think it's obvious that you've completed high school if you've earned a degree, but you shouldn't assume anything. Incorporate the secondary institution


  • The hiring manager has determined that you must have the aforementioned experience in order to do well in this position. The variety of required work-related years of experience is entirely context-specific. Whatever the number, you have to reach every one of them. Your resume will be eliminated from consideration if you are unable to provide evidence of relevant work experience. Careful attention to the language used in statements of experience is also required. The use of "Recent" and "Significant" in the text is possible. If so, you should provide a definition for each of them, such as
    • The term "recent" refers to events that have occurred within the last five years. ”
    • Specifically, "significant is defined as being for at least three consecutive years."
  • If the job description calls for recent and significant experience, your resume needs to show that you can deliver. To make it clear that you have been performing the duties listed on your resume for at least three years and within the past five years, you should include dates alongside your professional experience. And if they are looking for the most relevant experience to be detailed in a cover letter, you should make sure that each of your paragraphs includes the length of time you have spent in the relevant roles.

After you've checked off the mandatory requirements, you'd repeat the process with the asset or other qualifications. Find your strengths and highlight them in your application materials.

Your resume and cover letter should be tailored specifically to each position for which you apply. Should you fail to do so, you risk being disqualified from further consideration. So, don't just send in the same resume for every application you make, no matter how good it is. All of them need to address each of the mandatory requirements. And various requirements will be listed on each job ad.

Step 4:

Tips for Following Up on Your Federal Government Job Application

I have detailed the Necessary Requirements, along with the evidence you'll need to prove you meet them. If you are qualified for the position, you should be able to prove it in your application materials (resume and cover letter) before the deadline.

Are you just going to sit back and wait to see if you get invited to the next stage now?

No You should assume you will pass the screening and begin preparing for the next step of the process immediately. It's possible that you'll be asked to take a test without much advance warning. The time to begin making plans is now. The question is, though, how should you get ready? Check the job posting again to see if there is any mention of a later assessment.

To better understand what will happen in the next stage, let's take a closer look at it in its constituent parts.

It's not uncommon for job descriptions to include language like:

The following (important to the position) will be evaluated and applied in the future.

Several subheadings may apply here depending on the specifics of the position for which you are applying.

The Language (if Appropriate)

  • This section will detail any linguistic requirements for the position. The following or similar may appear, depending on the specifics:
    • Pool rules can vary widely in terms of required language. Must Be Able to Speak English and French The Need for English Having a Basic Understanding of French is Crucial Critical Need for Bilingual Communication

      Multilingual, Optional

  • There are three distinct categories in bilingual classification:
    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Conversations in the Mouth
  • If you are applying for a position that requires a language other than your first, you will need to demonstrate that you are proficient in that language at the required level, or you will be tested using Federal Government standards. A link to the Canadian government's website detailing language requirements will be included in any relevant job advertisements.


  • This section will detail the skills and experiences you'll need to bring to the table in order to carry out the responsibilities of your position. Knowing this is sufficient; you need not show that you have actually implemented it. Typically, they concern some aspect of the job's technical requirements, i e You might come across something like this when searching for a job in finance:
    • Having a firm grasp on the methods typically used in the public sector with regards to managing and allocating funds, making projections and keeping accurate financial records, and reporting findings
  • Knowledge is typically evaluated through a written test, but may also be evaluated orally.


  • Abilities focus on less technical topics and more on your personal qualities. Listed here are the skills and abilities the employer is looking for in a candidate for this position. For the position of Finance and Administration Manager, for instance, you might see something along these lines:
    • Capacity to conduct research, evaluate, and draft business plans
  • Some of the claims made in these ads may be too broad to be relevant to any particular company or position, i.e. e :
    • Possessing strong verbal and written communication skills

Capabilities/Skills of the Individual

  • In this part, we'll discuss the "soft skills," or character traits, that an employer is looking for in a potential hire. It's possible that you'll come across:
    • Integrity
    • Judgment
    • Helping out the customer
    • Individual Contributor to a Team
  • This part is usually evaluated during the interview, but it could also be tested in a written exam or during the reference checking process.

Similar to what I've described in the experience section, where I mentioned the possibility of both mandatory and desirable experience clauses, the same is true here. There could be a part that reads:

At a later time (if necessary for the position), the following may be applied or evaluated.

My expectation is that you will apply the same standards to this section as you did to the one I just outlined.

Again, I urge you to begin preparing for these phases immediately following your application for the position.

If you want a good score on the knowledge section, you need to be well-versed in the topics under consideration and have done extensive background reading and research. Think about what you have done recently that demonstrates your abilities and personal suitability, and use that as a jumping off point for your answers to the questions about these topics.

Prepare speeches by first considering the S*T*A*R (Situation, Task, Action, Result) formula.

Step 5:

Learn the Ins and Outs of Working for the Federal Government

I've covered some of the groundwork you'll need to do to locate an opening for the position you're interested in. Subsequently, I explained how to decipher the job posting's Statement of Merit Criteria and what each section meant. Here I detail the Critical Requirements, along with the evidence you'll need to prove you meet them. And I detailed the criteria that would be used to evaluate you later.

When analyzing the Statement of Merit Criteria, what else should be taken into account?

Included in the Statement of Merit Criteria are the following sections:

  • Prerequisites for Operation
  • Employment Terms
  • Supplemental Materials

Lots of people believe they are done reading once they have checked off the basic requirements for the job. Nonetheless, these sections will contain crucial details that you must review before submitting an application.

Now, let's dissect them even further.

This section will detail the operational requirements of the position and the surrounding environment. Job applicants who do not possess the skills necessary to perform the duties of the position advertised should not waste their time or energy in applying. There will be things like:

  • Able to work well under pressure and in close proximity to disturbing or graphic information
  • Ability and willingness to travel via a variety of means of transportation for work and/or training purposes
  • Ability and willingness to work extra hours when needed

In the section titled "Conditions of Employment," you will find a description of the supplementary requirements you must meet in order to be hired. Should you fail to fulfill these requirements, an offer of employment will not be extended to you. In this part, you'll find examples like:

  • Clearance for Security (i e Availability, Confidential, Top Secret)
  • A current and valid driver's license

Important information can be found in the "Other Information" section of the application, so be sure to read it thoroughly. This will allow you to organize and prepare for the process's various stages, as well as gather any necessary paperwork, i.e. e Documentation of Education Examples of what's included are:

  • The use of references may be requested.
  • In some cases, an interview may be conducted. The interview(s) can be done via phone, video chat, or any other convenient method.
  • It's possible to give a test Please be aware that the written exam(s) may be scheduled for any day of the week, including but not limited to the weekdays, evenings, and/or weekends.
  • Candidates may be expected to make their own way to the testing or interview location of the employer's choosing.
  • You need to show proof that you've completed the necessary coursework to get this job.

You can see that there is a lot of work involved if you want to land a job with the Federal Government.

In any case, check off each procedure one by one and double-check to make sure you haven't forgotten anything. And don't give up! Get some feedback, figure out what you were missing, and try again if you don't succeed the first time.

Step 6:

Advice for Getting Ready for an Interview

If you've made it this far in the interview process, congratulations! With this achievement comes a new set of nerves and questions.

Since we don't have enough time to cover everything involved in preparing for an interview, I've made available a free supplemental worksheet I've titled "Federal Government Interview Preparation Worksheet." Prepare for the interview by practicing what you'll say about yourself and why you're a good fit for the position with this sample answer.

If you click the button and enter your email address, you can get a free copy. You'll have immediate access.

A Note From the Author

Connie Clace, CPC, has been in the workforce for over 30 years, during which time she has served in the private sector, the Federal Government, and the Municipal Government.

Connie has a track record of helping employees define and achieve their professional goals, and she has won awards for her leadership techniques. As a mentor, she excels at guiding people at all stages of their careers, from those just entering the workforce to those aiming for promotions at the executive level, by helping them craft compelling resumes, decipher the language of job postings, and move closer to their professional goals.

Since launching her company in 2014, Connie has helped clients from a wide variety of industries, including the Federal Government, the RCMP and police applicant interviews, government executive level promotions, education, medicine, and the financial sector, to name a few.

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