Final Steps

In this module, we learn about what happens in the final stages of the hiring process. 

Key takeaways and extra info


Let your references know that you will be listing them as early as you are comfortable. It is super variable on when in the process references will be contacted and you will not be told in advance. You don’t want anyone, especially your current manager, to be blindsided! 

The questionnaire being sent to your references will be long, this will most likely look overwhelming to people who work outside of government. Make sure you give them a heads up and offer to be of assistance in any way possible. 


A lot of job processes include the creation of a pool. Being put in a pool does not guarantee you a job offer, but you can use it to leverage other competitions because it means you have already gone through a lot of the hiring hoops. In conversations with hiring managers, inform them of any pools you are included in. 

Job offers

Verbal job offers are not official job offers, the position is only 100% your when the letter of offer is sent and signed. If you are moving through multiple job processes, do not remove yourself from a process based on a verbal offer.

Negotiating your initial salary

When entering the federal government, you only get one chance to negotiate your salary - during the initial job offer. 

Salaries are increased yearly to the next “step” in your pay band. You can see the steps increase in your classification and level if you Google something like “EC-03 salary range government of Canada”, click on the link hosted by TBS and find the table in the appendix of the corresponding collective agreement. 

Most of the time, you will initially be offered the step 1 salary. 

The Treasury Board Secretariat (basically a department that sets all the rules for the other departments) requires that for someone to start at a higher step - the hiring manager must demonstrate that the hire meets one or more of the three criteria :

  1. there is a shortage of skilled labour in the field involved, as evidenced by local or regional labour market surveys from recognized institutions;
  2. there are unusual difficulties in filling the position with properly qualified candidates (for example, the minimum rate of pay is not competitive with the rates offered by local or regional employers for similar duties); or
  3. operational conditions require the presence of a highly skilled or experienced person who can assume the full duties of the position immediately upon taking employment (for example, there is no alternative but to pay above the minimum because training a novice person would impose an unacceptable burden on the employing organization).

(you can see the full policy here: TBS Directive on Terms and Conditions of Employment)

So if you want to negotiate your salary, your best chance of success will be to provide the hiring manager with the evidence they need in order to make the case to HR, using the criteria above. Basically, make their job as easy as possible! 

I would recommend waiting until you have a letter of offer before starting the conversation about salary. As with any job offer, asking for a higher salary won’t always work - but once a letter of offer is issued it cannot be taken back because you are asking for more money. As long as you approach the conversation respectfully and professionally, the worst case scenario is that they say no and you must choose whether you accept the offer at step 1. 

Here is a template email you can use to draft a response to a letter of offer - customize the highlighted bold sections to your own role and experience:

Hello XX,
Thank you for sending me the letter of offer for consideration. While I would like to accept, before doing so I want to discuss the starting salary.

My understanding is that, due to the fact that this would be my first appointment to the federal public service, I can request to start at a higher step in the salary range.

I am confident in my ability to assume the full duties of the position immediately upon taking employment, therefore I would like to start at step X of the salary range. I have over X years of experience in the majority of the essential qualification, namely:

- Experience assigning tasks to, supervising and coaching staff or experience leading projects.
- Experience in the creation and maintenance of effective relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
- Significant experience in conducting research, analyzing facts and formulating recommendations on complex issues.
- Significant experience in delivering briefings and written advice and reports on complex issues to management.

The majority of my experience was also gained in highly complex, high profile and face paced environments, which has given me the skills to quickly and seamlessly adjust to new roles.

I have successfully led several projects with either multi-disciplinary teams or with high-profile deliverables – which included key tasks such as assigning work. As well ass experience conducting research, formulating recommendations, delivering briefings and written advice to management, I also have significant experience delivering these types of products to Ministers and Cabinet – therefore, I am confident in my ability to deliver, and support the team to deliver, the highest quality products and services at XX.

If you have experience in something you didn’t highlight throughout the hiring process, but think is important: 

Along with my public sector experience above – I also have several years of experience in XX. This has given me experience in XX– all skills that will allow me to be an effective XX from the start.

If you are currently making more step 1 of the pay band: 

My current responsibility and remuneration is equal to and/or above that of a XX, and I want to maintain/match this pay level as it accurately reflects my skill and experience.

Need help with your application or interview?

I would love to help! If offer 45min 1-on-1 coaching sessions for $75. Feel free to book a time in my calendar through the link below:

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Hello, bonjour, my friends and welcome to the final module of fed Now that you've completed the interview, the hardest part for you is done, but there are still quite a few steps before an official job offer can come in. I'll give you an overview of what to expect, depending on the type of job competition you're in, as well as a few tips for along the way.

So the first thing you need to be aware of, regardless of the competition is the references. Now you can probably guess based on how every other step in the process has gone is that federal job references are a lot more involved than in any other type of job. Your references will receive an email stating that you're participating in a selection process for job X, Y, Z, and receive a questionnaire.

And the questionnaire will have a similar vibe to those initial screening questions that you had to fill out. Here are a couple of things to be conscious of. First, the questionnaire will be extremely long and detailed, and most people will find this a bit unusual and very time-consuming. 

That means you need to make sure that you're picking people to be your references, that one, will actually take the time to fill out the questionnaire. And two, are able to know your work enough to be able to provide details, to be able to fill out the questions. Second, if any of your references are people who don't like to write, they are able to provide the reference via phone. So make sure they're aware of that option.

Third, is that one of your references will almost certainly need to be your current manager, and that ties into my last point. While, it varies from competition to competition, they will most likely ask for your references ahead of the interview, either during the initial screening stage or when they invite you to the interview.

And this is something I cannot emphasize enough, is that they won't give you a heads up before contacting your references. They might even do it right after the interview, regardless of how it went. This is because the reference process takes quite a long time and they'd rather get the requests out there as soon as possible while they are grading the interviews and all that kind of stuff. So, my advice to you is if you make it to the interview stage, give your references a heads up that they may be contacted. 

When I was living in New Zealand, I started applying for federal government jobs over a year before I was planning to move because that's how long I was told it would take. However, I applied and was successful for a job that was moving super quickly for federal government standards. Might've been because it was based in Yellowknife? But that meant that two months after putting in my initial application, I was invited to an interview. At that interview, I was asked to submit my references and because I was still over a year away from moving, I hadn't told my current employer that I was planning to move.

Because of this, I made the request both in the interview and in the email when I sent my references to the manager, asking if they could give me a heads up when they were going to be contacting my references, so I could talk to them beforehand. And they did not listen. An hour after the interview, requests for references went out, including to my current manager... Needless to say, it did not go over well. So don't get burned like I did, and be proactive, talk to your manager and let them know that you're going through a process and they may be contacted. 

Now that you've given your references a heads up, that they might be contacted. Here are a few things that I recommend doing. Let them know that there's going to be a lot of questions and that they can get in touch with you if they're unsure about anything. 

Second, attach your resume and provide a document with all that of the answers to those initial screening questions that you put together, for their reference. 

Third and most importantly, thank them profusely for agreeing to be a reference and taking the time to fill out the questionnaire.

So let's say you get through the reference process. There are two different ways that things could go from here. So the first option is that you're included in a pool and that means you're not being offered a job, but you are included in a list of candidates that are pre-qualified to be able to be offered a job if one comes up. 

A pool will usually be active for a specific amount of time, usually around a year or two. There are two different types of pools. The first one is a partially assessed pool. So that means that if a manager is interested in giving you a job offer, you still have a few little assessments to go through. Usually, a security clearance or the language testing before they can offer you a job. 

The second is a fully assessed, and this means that you have been found to be fully qualified and ready to work and able to be offered a job at any time. If a manager is putting together a fully assessed pool, you'll be asked to do that security clearance and language testing ahead of time.

But it's really important to remember that even if you go through these extra steps, and are put into a fully assessed pool, you are not guaranteed a job offer. Basically, once you've been put into a pool, all you can do is wait for a manager to contact you. If they do it usually involves a short conversation about the role and then asking whether or not you're still interested.

I've been contacted for a position after being in a pool for six months. But I've also had pools that have expired without me being contacted at all. It's really just the luck of the draw. 

Finally, if you get offered a position from a pool, but it's just not the right time to accept, you can decline and still be kept in that pool.

The second option is that you get offered a position right away. And if this happens to you, then congrats, it's a lot rarer than being put into it a pool. Here are a few things to keep in mind - getting a verbal job offer does not mean you 100% have that job locked in. This is only true when you get what's called a letter of offer. During the verbal job offer is when you're going to go over the details with the manager around salary, as well as starting date, those kinds of things.

This is basically your only chance to negotiate your salary. Once you start with the federal government standardized salary progression kicks in. So don't hesitate to negotiate that starting salary within the band that is listed on the job posting. Once all the details are locked in with the manager, you'll finally get that letter of offer and that means you're officially in. 

And that is it my friends! Now you know what to expect in a Government of Canada job process from start to finish and how to prepare. 

Before we wrap up, I want to emphasize that all of the explanations and advice that I provide in the videos is based on my personal experience of going through multiple job processes with the federal government. Due to the fact that the federal government hires for such a wide variety of jobs, you might experience something that I don't mention in the videos.

If this is the case, and you want advice on your specific situation, then I do offer one-on-one consulting. I can provide you feedback and advice for any stage of the job process. It can be for anything from formulating answers to those initial screening questions to interview prep. But other than that, I hope that this course helps you land the government job that you've always been dreaming of.

And thanks so much for being part of fed jobs. Aurevoir! 

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