Reading the Job Postings

In this module, we learn how to read and analyze Government of Canada job postings. 

Key takeaways and extra info

Filtering jobs

Filtering by classification is a good way to target your job search. Classifications organize similar jobs into groups (check out all the classifications in the links below). 

What is absolutely mandatory

There are three types of mandatory criteria on a job posting - don’t apply if you don’t meet these:

  • Qualifying criteria: the box at the top of the job posting that outlines if the job is limited to a certain area or group. 
  • Essential criteria: the experience and skills that the manager is looking for. 
  • Language criteria: the language level you need to be able to achieve (check out the self-assessment tool in the links below). 

Language requirements

The Government of Canada has several bilingual regions, including the entire National Capital Region, the whole province of New Brunswick, most of Northern Ontario, and most of Montreal, along with a few bilingual communities in Quebec and eastern Ontario. 

Most jobs in bilingual regions will require some proficiency in your second language, especially at higher levels. Jobs in non-bilingual regions are more likely to be unilingual. 

More information

A contact person will be listed at the bottom of the job posting, you can email them for more information about the role. They make take a long time to get back to you, so don’t wait for an answer back before applying - there will be more time throughout the process to find out more. 

Links to check out

Why the hiring process takes so long: Staffing process

Job search website: Government of Canada jobs search

All Government of Canada classifications and definitions: Classification groups

Test your language skills: Self-assessment language tests

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Hello, bonjour and welcome to the first module on I'm so excited to be working with you. 

So before we jump into learning how to understand and analyze the government of Canada job postings, there are a few things I want to highlight. First and foremost, getting a job takes time, like a lot of time. There's no way around it. 

As an outside applicant, don't expect to be getting a job offer within a month of applying. Competitions can sometimes take months and years to get through. Last week, I got contacted for references for a job that I applied to a year and a half ago. 

There's a lot of reasons why the process takes so long, but basically, it comes down to all the rules, policies, and laws that govern the process and the fact that they have to be followed absolutely perfectly. There are also a large number of approvals that happen at each step of the process, which slows things down even more. So be patient, and don't give up just because you haven't heard back right away, doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad sign.

Now my biggest piece of advice at this initial stage is apply to everything. If the job isn't in the city that you want to work in, doesn't matter apply. If the job isn't in the agency that you want to work for, it doesn't matter. If the job isn't at the level that you want to work at, doesn't matter apply. 

Getting a job with the federal government is well and truly a numbers game. This is especially true for the lower-level positions with can sometimes get thousands upon thousands of applicants. With these job postings, they sometimes do a random selection of people who fit the basic requirements of the job posting. So that means even if you are the perfect applicant, you might not get picked just because of luck of the draw.

It's important to try to get through as many stages, have as many competitions as possible because a lot of the elements can be used across competitions. For example, something that takes a really long time is getting a security clearance. Once you have it with one agency, a lot of the times a manager from a different agency can get access to it, to tick that box.

So with all those things in mind, let's jump into looking at actual job postings and breaking down all the different elements that you need to know about before actually clicking that I want to apply button. 

So the first step is to head over to the website, That's where you’ll find all the government job postings and a bit of information about the process. But to be honest, I haven't really found it that helpful. That's why we're here. 

So the first step is to click on the site search government jobs. Now, this site hosts all of the core public service agency jobs. Once from the ministry of health, as well as ones from public service, adjacent agencies, like the House of Commons or the Nuclear Safety Commission. Now all core public service jobs will be on here, but the ones from adjacent agencies, most likely well, but it's not a requirement 

Now that you're on this page, what you want to do is create an account because this will help you track all of the different applications that you put in. Start off by clicking the login box and then the create account button. You'll see that once you've created an account and logged in and you head back to the job search, it looks a little bit different. Now you get to see all of the internal jobs as well as the jobs open to the public. 

Now, unfortunately, we will have to ignore these internal jobs, because those are only for people who currently work for the government of Canada. So go over it and click on the jobs, open to the public. 

Just to note that these three other tabs are basically when a selection process has happened and a person has been chosen for a job, they have to post it publicly for a certain amount of time. Again, part of these crazy rules, but we can basically ignore these three.

Now, the first thing I want to highlight is the classifications because this is a really useful way of being able to sort all of the hundreds of jobs that are posted up there. You'll see, once you click on the classifications that there are lots of different types of jobs. I linked to a website that describes all of the different classifications, but I will break it down into five main categories of jobs and give you the most common classifications to look out for.

The first main type of job is policy development and program design. These are policy wonks who do research and analysis. Their main classifications are EC, which stands for economic and social sciences, or SI, which stands for statistics. 

The next type of job is program management and service delivery, and these are the people that take these policies and turn them into actual services for citizens.

And their main classification is PM. 

The third main type of job is enabling services and administrator. And these are the people that support the rest of government to do their job. And their main classifications are PE for personnel FI for finance and AS for administration. 

Then we have our specialist categories and these are highly specific and highly specialized jobs like nurses or air traffic controllers. 

Last but not least, we have management. And unfortunately, if you were an outside applicate, it could be very hard to be appointed in a management position without any federal government experience. 

My background is in program management as well as policy development. So I know that I'm going to filter by EC and PM. You'll see that I've added all of the EC and all of the PM classifications, and I'll use that as a filter. You'll see that all the classifications are also numbered. The higher, the number, the more senior you are. 02 Is it usually about an entry-level position and everything up until 06 is not management. So, 07 and up, you are management. 

Now that I filtered for the jobs that I think I'm interested in and I think I had the experience for it, let's actually click on one of the descriptions to go through all the different elements found within. So let's start off by looking at the senior analyst position in this first box there's a few things. 

First, we look at the classification and the level which we've already talked about. This is where the position is located. As we can see this is a virtual work location, which is pretty rare. One very important thing to look for in this box is the, who can apply as we can see here, it's pretty open to anyone who's a Canadian, which is great. But I will show you one example where it's a bit more limited.

Now, this isn't a PM or EC, but I did want to pull it up to show that this job only people who live in Nova Scotia within 200 kilometers of where the job is located can apply to. So be careful and make sure you notice whether or not there are limitations on who can apply to the job. 

The next important thing to look at is the intent of the process. With this job postings, we can see that the intent of the process is to offer one indeterminant, PM O4 senior ATIP analyst, and also create a pool. So that's a lot of information. I'll just break it down for you. 

First off, what is a pool? A pool is a group of people who have made it through various steps of the hiring process but have not been offered a job. As we know that hiring process can take a really long time, so quite often managers will create a pool of qualified people that they can pull from when they have a job opening. 

The next thing I want to talk about is the length of time of different types of contracts. First, there's indeterminant, which means permanent. It means there's no end date to your contract. Then we have determinant, which is often known as a term because there is an end to the contract. There are deployments that are permanent at level transfers. They're acting positions, which means you are temporarily active above your current level. Finally, there are assignments and secondments, which are at level transfers. Assignments will be within an organization and secondments will be between organizations. 

I've pulled up a new example to show you the things that are absolutely mandatory for you to have to be able to move forward in a process from a job posting. So first we have the qualifying criteria, which is the, who can apply box right here, which we've talked about.

Next, we have the essential qualifications. And when we look at these, these are the things that you absolutely have to have experience with if you want to get screened into the process and move forward. Just a quick note on these essential qualifications. If you don't meet these requirements, then don't bother applying. You'll be screened out immediately. 

Now, there are some ways you can get a bit creative to show how you can meet these qualifications, but we'll talk about that in the next module. The third thing that is absolutely mandatory is the language criteria which we see here is bilingual imperative BBB. 

As you may have heard being bilingual in the federal public service is really important. In order to understand the language requirements on a job posting, there are three things you should look at.

First, whether it's bilingual or whether or not it's listed as English or French, whether it says imperative or essential, and then these classifications here. If a position is listed as these are French or English, essential, as long as you can pass a job interview in that language, they'll consider you fluent enough to get that job.

If a job posting says a bilingual imperative like this one does, then that means you will be assessed for your language competencies in your second language. 

Next, what do these three letters mean? Each letter corresponds with your competency in reading writing and speaking in another language. 

A is the lowest level, it means you are a beginner in your second language. B is the mid-level where you can do some works tasks in your second language. C means that you're bilingual and are super comfortable working in either official language. And then there's even E which means that you're so bilingual that you never have to get tested again, and that’s the dream.

If you live and work in a bilingual region, it can be really hard to get ahead without being bilingual. There is a lot of variation, but usually, if you're at level five or above, it's, there's the expectation that you can at least get a BBB and anything in a managerial position, you'll at least need a CBC.

However, if you don't work in a bilingual region, it can be a lot easier to only speak one language. So if you're not sure where your language levels are at, I’ve linked below a self-assessment tool that you can use to find out where you might fall.

Underneath the language requirements, you'll see that there are other essential criteria. Everything in this section, won't be assessed at the initial screening stage, but rather at either the written test or during the interview. So while it is essential, you'll have a bit more time to prepare it, to make sure that you know exactly what the... Extractive Sector Transparency Measurement Act is.

There are two last things that I want to highlight before wrapping things up. First, is the asset education and experience section. These are your nice to haves, which will put your application in a good position, but you can still apply and get hired if you don't have them. Finally, some job postings will have a condition of employment. And this usually has to do with your security clearance. It doesn't mean you have to have one in advance, but it does mean that you need to be able to pass a security clearance to be offered a position. 

So now that you know, all of the important elements of job postings, like the classifications, the essential requirements, and the language requirements, I want you to go onto and find five jobs that you think that you could apply to today.

Now make sure that you can absolutely fulfill the essential requirements, because if not, it's not with your time applying and not worth your time, filling out that really long application form. 

So I hope you found this module useful. If you have any questions, reach out, but if not, I'll see you in the next module where we break down, how to fill out that initial application form.

I'll see you then. 

Do you have questions about this module?

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