Instructions for Making a Federal Government Job Application in Canada

If you want to work for the federal government or finally get that promotion you deserve, there are a few things you need to do to make sure your application is accepted.

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:

  • Procedures for Obtaining a Government Position
  • 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

Time to get going, there's a lot of ground to cover.

Step 1:

Tutorial on Securing Employment 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 resume.
  • 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 Get ready for your next interview with the help of this handy worksheet.
Step 2:

An Overview of the Federal Government's Statement of Merit Criteria for Employment

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.

Okay, let's dissect it from the very beginning:

  • When is the last day to submit your resume? If an application is not received by the due date, the applicant will be disqualified.
  • Eligibility Requirements (Area of Selection): Who can apply? 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 give a part-time worker the chance to be offered a full-time position, 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.
  • Employment Conditions and Operational Requirements - This section explains 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.
  • In this section, it is possible to specify whether or not any factors (such as a person's protected status) will be weighted more heavily than others when determining who will be hired. e Veteran applicants will be given priority. Be sure to specify your eligibility for the preference on your application if it applies to you.
  • 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'll need to show in your application materials exactly how you do so.

There are some prerequisites for getting a job, and those are called the Essential Qualifications. Here you will specify your search criteria for a resume and/or cover letter. Your resume will be eliminated from consideration if you can't prove that you have the bare minimum qualifications. Possible alternative titles for this section are Asset Qualifications or Other Qualifications. Those qualifications that are preferable to having but not required for the position will be listed here. You should add the assets to your application if you have them.

Now, let's take this apart a little further. Just what 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. In spite of the fact that it's likely assumed, if you have a degree, that you also have a high school diploma, you should state this fact explicitly. Certainly the high school should be included.


  • 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. The use of "Recent" and "Significant" in the text is possible. If so, you should provide a definition for each of them, such as
    • Within the last five years is considered to be "recent." ”
    • We use a three-year threshold to define significance.
  • 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 during the screening process. Don't waste your time applying for a bunch of different jobs with the same resume, 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're 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 Assume you will pass the screening and move on to the next stage of the process. Sometimes, you may be asked to take a test without much warning. So, get ready right away. Nonetheless, how should you get ready? Check the job posting again to see if there is any information about how you will be evaluated in the future.

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)

  • In this section, you'll find information about any linguistic prerequisites for the position. It's possible you'll see something like:
    • Need to speak a few different languages (for different pools) Essential Proficiency in English and French Required Use of English Critical for 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:
    • Familiarity with public sector accounting, budgeting, accounting, and reporting standards and best practices
  • Knowledge is typically evaluated with a written test, but may also be evaluated orally.


  • The abilities section is where you can showcase your skills and knowledge in areas that are less technical in nature. In this section, we'll discuss the skills and experience the employer is looking for in a new hire. If you were looking for a position as a Finance and Administration Manager, you might come across a description like this one:
    • 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.

The same essential and asset experience clauses that I mentioned above in the experience section are also possible 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 clarified the meaning of each section of the job posting's Statement of Merit Criteria. I have outlined the Required Qualifications, as well as the evidence you will need to prove you meet them. I also detailed the criteria that would be used to determine whether or not you were hired.

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

The Statement of Merit Criteria then continues with the sections:

  • Necessities of Operation
  • Working Conditions
  • 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. There is no point in applying for a job if you can't or won't fulfill the requirements listed. These will be statements like:

  • Able to handle working under pressure and in close proximity 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. You can then prepare for each stage by outlining what needs to be done and what materials you'll need, 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.
  • It's possible to give a test Note that written exams could be given on weekdays, nights, or weekends.
  • Candidates may be expected to make their own way to the testing or interview location of the employer's choosing.
  • Provide documentation of your academic accomplishments.

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

Nonetheless, check off each procedure one by one and make sure you haven't forgotten anything. And don't give up! Do not give up if at first you do not succeed; rather, learn from your failure by analyzing the feedback you received and adjusting your approach accordingly for your next attempt.

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's clientele has spanned many sectors since she opened her business in 2014, including the Federal Government, the RCMP and police applicant interviews, government executive level promotions, education, medicine, and the financial sector.

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