Instructions for Making a Federal Government Job Application in Canada

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.

What you'll learn from this comprehensive manual is:

  • Federal employment application guidelines
  • An explanation of the Statement of Merit Criteria (SofMC) and how it causes applicants unnecessary stress.
  • What you need to know about the government's definition of "Essential Qualifications" and how it affects your application
  • To what do the terms "Operational Requirements" and "Conditions of Employment" refer?
  • Procedures for submitting a formal application

All right, we have a lot of ground to cover, so let's get started.

Step 1:

Learn the Ins and Outs of Securing a Job in the Federal Government

Ok, now let's talk about how to get a job.

How can you put yourself in a position to be hired?

  • Register Create a profile on and submit your application.
  • Search After signing up, you'll be able to narrow your results by criteria such as job type, salary range, location, and more. and finally save your search so you aren't constantly refreshing the same results.
  • Monitor Make it a habit to log in every day so you don't miss any opportunities.
  • Network Make connections with people you know who work for the government to find out if you can job-shadow them or if there are any other ways to break into the field.
  • Educate Find out exactly what is expected of you in the jobs that interest you. Have you received the proper training? If you don't have the required qualifications for the job opening, now is the time to get them.

The time to put in effort is after you have decided which jobs you wish to apply for.

If you want to get hired, your resume must show that you have the necessary skills and experience for the job.

As well as getting ready for the interview, you should also study for any tests that may be administered.

  • My free interview worksheet can be found at if you're interested in downloading it. com/m6cW1 Prepare for your upcoming interview with the help of this handy worksheet.
Step 2:

In-Depth Analysis of the Federal Government's "Statement of Merit Criteria"

You have found a job you are interested in applying for, so now you must determine if you meet the minimum requirements listed in the advertisement.

Every Federal job posting includes something called a Statement of Merit Criteria (SofMC). Here, you'll find a detailed list of everything from required education and experience to specific skills and assets needed for the position. Don't get ahead of yourself though.

Before applying for a job, it's important to do some research on the company and get a sense of what the hiring manager is looking for by reading the company's official announcement and the Statement of Merit Criteria.

All right, let's dissect this thing from the top down:

  • When does the application period end/your resume need to be submitted by? If an application is not received by the due date, the applicant will be disqualified.
  • Be sure you fit the criteria for the selection area before applying. Place names, government agencies, and other specifics could be discussed here. 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 part-time with the option of making them permanent, etc.
  • What You Need to Give Us - Here, You'll Find Out What We Need From You, And How To Give It To Us e When applying for a job, do you put everything on your resume, your cover letter, or both? Take the time to familiarize yourself with the submission requirements. 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. You must give in to their every demand. If you do not meet these requirements, you will be disqualified.
  • Essential Qualifications - This section outlines the specific skills and experiences you must 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 is called an "asset" or "other qualifications."
  • In addition to formal education and relevant work experience, certain soft skills, aptitudes, and character traits are also necessary for this position. Because these aspects of your application will be evaluated during the next stages of the hiring process, you don't need to mention them in your resume or cover letter.
  • Condition of Employment/Operational Requirements - This section details what will be expected of you if you are hired. If you're interested, please read the following sections carefully and make sure you can fulfill the responsibilities outlined.
  • As the process progresses, you'll likely need the details provided in the "Other Information" section, which can be found here. e How extensive will the hiring process be, including interviews, tests, reference checks, etc. Be sure to read this entire notice, as it contains crucial information.
  • Potentially revealing information about who, if anyone, will be given preferential treatment in the hiring process, this section is titled "Preference." e Those who have served their country will be given priority. Be sure to specify your eligibility for the preference on your application if you fall into that category.
  • Sometimes, a job posting will include details about employment equity. Please take the time to read that material and determine whether or not it pertains to you.

You can see how the Statement of Merit Criteria has the potential to be confusing. However, that's not neccesarily the case. Finding a job using a job posting can be simple if you know how to read and interpret it. That's what we'll do here on out as we progress with this article. For your edification, we shall proceed by dissecting each part in order that you may proceed with confidence.

Step 3:

Tips for Deciphering "Essential Qualifications" on Federal Job Applications

Having read the entire job posting, you should now break it down and go through the steps one by one. The first step is to check if you already possess the necessary skills and experience. And if you do, you need to show it in your resume and/or cover letter.

There are some prerequisites for getting a job, and those are called the Essential Qualifications. You can use the information in this section to tailor your application materials. Your resume will be eliminated from consideration if you can't prove that you have the bare minimum qualifications. In addition, there could be a section labeled Asset Qualifications or Other Qualifications. This may include training and/or experience that would be helpful but aren't strictly required for the position. Do not forget to list your assets if you happen to have them when filling out your application.

Now, let's take this apart a little further. Which are the two most widely accepted requirements


  • In this section, you'll see the education requirements for this position laid out in detail. A degree in a relevant field, such as business, technology, etc., may replace "high school diploma." One possible interpretation is that a combination of education and experience is acceptable. Put it front and center in your resume and cover letter, and make sure it stands out. 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. Do not forget the high school!


  • The hiring manager has determined that you must have the aforementioned qualifications in order to perform adequately in this position. The number of required years of experience varies widely from job to job. To the extent that there are requirements, you must fulfill them all. Your resume will be eliminated from consideration if you are unable to provide evidence of relevant work experience. Be careful with the language used in the statements of experience, as well. Expressions like "Recent" and "Significant" may be a part of the wording. In that case, you should provide a definition for each, along the lines of:
    • For the purposes of this definition, "recent" means within the last five years. ”
    • Three years of continuous significance is considered "significant."
  • When applying for a position that requires recent and significant experience, your resume should make it obvious that you fit the bill. You need to include dates in your professional experience that show how long you've been in that role, so that whoever is screening your resume knows that you've been doing that job for at least three years and that it's within the last five years. Cover letters are a great way to get your relevant experience across, but only if you include details like the length of time you've spent in a given role.

After checking off the mandatory requirements, you'd move on to the asset or additional requirements. Find your strengths and highlight them in your application materials.

Applying to jobs without tailoring your resume and cover letter to each position is a huge mistake. If you don't, you risk being disqualified at the screening stage. So, don't just send in the same resume for every application you make, no matter how good it is. All of them should address the necessary skills and attributes. Moreover, each advertisement for employment will detail a unique set of required qualifications.

Step 4:

Once You've Applied for a Government Job, What's Next?

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.

Should you wait to see if you are invited to the next round now?

No Proceed as if you have already been accepted, and begin the next steps of the process immediately. Sometimes, you may be asked to take a test without much warning. So, get ready right away. Nonetheless, how should you get ready? If you want to know how you'll be evaluated in the future, check the job posting again.

Allow me to provide a more detailed breakdown of the subsequent stage.

You might see something like this after the section listing the Essential Qualifications and the Asset Qualifications:

The subsequent (important to the position) will be applied/evaluated at a later time.

Depending on the position for which you are applying, this may be divided into several subsections.

The language involved (if any)

  • Any necessary linguistic qualifications for the position will be specified here. This is an example of what you might see if the conditions are met:
    • Need to speak a few different languages (for different pools) Essential Proficiency in English and French Urgent Need for English Important French Important to Speak Two Languages

      Language Acquisition Not Necessary for Bilingual Position

  • There are three distinct categories within the realm of linguistic classification of the bilingual variety:
    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Communicating Verbally
  • Applicants for positions that require languages other than their native tongue must demonstrate proficiency in those languages or take a test developed in accordance with federal guidelines. A link to the Canadian government's website detailing language requirements will be included in any relevant job advertisements.


  • Everything you need to know to do your job well is outlined in this section. Having this knowledge is sufficient; it is not necessary to show that you have actually performed the task in question. Typically, these questions concern the more specialized aspects of the job, i.e. e You might come across something like this when searching for a job in finance:
    • Expertise in public sector accounting, budgeting, accounting, and reporting practices
  • Knowledge is most commonly evaluated through a written exam, though an oral examination or portfolio review are also viable options.


  • The abilities section is where you can showcase your skills and knowledge in areas that are less technical in nature. Listed here are the skills and abilities the employer is looking for in a candidate for this position. Here's an example of a cover letter for the position of Finance and Administration Manager:
    • Able to conduct research, evaluate, and create business plans
  • A few of the claims you encounter may be more general and applicable to any job advertisement, e.g. e :
    • Effective verbal and written communication skills

Capabilities and Aptitudes of the Individual

  • In this part, we'll discuss what I call "soft skills," or the intangible qualities that an employer is looking for in a candidate. Examples of what you might see are:
    • Integrity
    • Judgment
    • Provider of Services to Customers
    • Participant in the Team
  • The interview is the most common venue for evaluating this part of the application, though a written test or reference checks are also viable options.

Experience clauses can be either "essential" or "asset," as I explained above; similarly, here. It's possible that there will be a section that reads:

The following can be considered for use or evaluation down the road (may be required for the position).

This part is the same as the one I described above.

It is highly recommended that you begin preparing for these phases immediately after applying for the position.

Make sure you're well-versed in the criteria under consideration by reading up on the topic and taking advantage of any other resources at your disposal before moving on to the "Knowledge" section of the questionnaire. Think about what you've 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.

Take into account the S*T*A*R (Situation, Task, Action, Result) factor and start practicing your deliveries.

Step 5:

Knowing the Rules and Regulations of Working for the Federal Government

Earlier, I detailed some strategies for locating desirable employment opportunities. Then, I explained how to decipher the job posting's Statement of Merit Criteria and what each section actually entailed. I have detailed the Necessary Requirements, as well as the evidence you'll need to prove you meet them. I also detailed the criteria that would be used in the evaluation process.

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:

  • Necessities of Operation
  • Situations in the Workplace
  • Details Not Elsewhere Described

Many people believe they are done reading once they have reviewed the position's stated requirements. The sections in question will, however, contain crucial details that must be considered before submitting an application.

For a better understanding, let's dissect them

Operational Requirements This section will detail the specific tasks and responsibilities necessary for you to successfully carry out your duties in this position and setting. To be honest, you shouldn't even bother applying for the job if you can't guarantee that you'll be able to fulfill the minimum requirements. These will be statements like:

  • Being comfortable working in a fast-paced setting where they may be exposed to disturbing or graphic information
  • Ability and willingness to use a variety of transportation modes for business or educational purposes
  • Ability and willingness to work extra hours when needed

In the section titled "Conditions of Employment," you will learn what, beyond the mandatory skills listed above, you must have in order to be hired. If you don't fulfill these requirements, you won't get the job. This part covers topics like:

  • Access to Confidential Information (i e Status of Reliability (Top Secret, Secret, etc.)
  • A current and valid driver's license

Before moving forward with the application process, please read the following section, which contains important information. This will allow you to organize your time and resources, as well as collect any necessary paperwork, for each phase of the process, i.e. e Documentation of Education Details like:

  • References may be checked if desired.
  • Possible Use of Interview The interview(s) may take place via phone, video chat, or some other electronic medium.
  • One option is to conduct a test. Keep in mind that any day of the week (including nights and weekends) could be used to give you a written exam.
  • Candidates should be prepared to travel to a location chosen by the employer for testing and/or interviews.
  • Provide documentation of your academic accomplishments.

Clearly, a lot of work goes into making a strong application for a position in the Federal Government.

Nonetheless, check off each procedure one by one and make sure you haven't forgotten anything. And don't give up! If at first you don't succeed, learn from your mistakes and apply what you've learned to your next attempt by gathering and analyzing relevant feedback.

Step 6:

Methods to Ensure Your Success at Your Interview

If you've made it this far, you've probably experienced a whole new set of nerves and questions that have come to mind since you were first screened in for an interview.

Since we won't be able to devote as much time to the interview process as is necessary here, I've created a free supplemental tool I call the 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.

Simply enter your email address and click the button below to download your free copy. You'll be able to access it right away.

Author Notes

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, a manager who has won awards for her leadership practices, has helped countless employees define and achieve their professional aspirations. She is an excellent mentor, and she has helped people at all stages of their careers, from those just entering the workforce to those looking for promotions at the executive level, craft compelling resumes, decipher complex job postings, and move closer to their professional goals.

Connie has been running a successful business since 2014. Her clients come from all walks of life and all levels of government, including the Federal Government, the RCMP and police applicant interviews, government executive level promotions, education, medicine, and finance.

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