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Employment Opportunities


To be employed by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), or any other state department, you must first successfully pass an examination which will evaluate your skills and rank you in comparison with other candidates who are applying for the same examination. These state civil service examinations are open to all, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, marital status, disability, religious or political affiliation, age or sexual orientation. California residency is not required, and U.S. citizenship is required only for peace officer jobs.

If you are successful in the examination, your name will be placed in score order on a list with all other successful candidates. As vacancies occur in the department for that classification, contact letters may be sent to individuals on the list to determine their interest in the position.



Examinations are given by the State Personnel Board (SPB) and by individual state departments. Examination announcements tell you which department is giving the examination, and where to apply.

Examination information is available on recorded message lines, on the Internet, and in-person at the SPB, the California Department of Social Services and Employment Development Department (EDD) offices. The recorded messages are available 24 hours-a-day, 7 days per week and are updated when new examinations are announced. The SPB also maintains a bulletin board on the Internet that includes some examination information.

You may also visit the SPB in Sacramento or your local EDD Office for examination announcements and state applications. The SPB also sponsors lunch time seminars on "How to Get a State Job".

The following are the recorded telephone message line resources:

Sacramento (916) 657-1762
TDD 1-800-735-2929


Examination Announcements. When you find an examination you want to apply for, get a copy of the announcement and application from the department conducting the examination. Read the announcement carefully, as it provides information on the education and/or experience required for entrance into the examination. You should retain a copy of the examination announcement as well as your completed application so that you may refer back to it during the examination process.

How to Apply. State Examination Applications (Form STD. 678) are available from SPB, EDD and the California Department of Social Services. Answer all the questions that apply to you. Type or print all information in ink neatly. After completing the front of the application, turn the application over and summarize your education and work experience in the spaces provided. Ensure that you place "dates to and from" for each job you have listed, whether the position was full or part-time, and the number of hours worked per week for each of the positions you have listed on the application.

You may attach a resume in place of the education and work history. However, the resume must be attached to an original state application with all of the same information completed (i.e., dates of employment, full or part time). This information is necessary when reviewing the application for minimum qualifications determinations.

Remember, the completed application is an example of your reading comprehension skills, your ability to follow directions, and your attention to detail. Take time to ensure that it is accurate and legible, and that you have followed any special filing instructions indicated on the examination announcement. This is particularly important because in some examinations, you may be disqualified from the examination if you make errors in completing the application.

Prior to submission of your application, you may want to make a copy along with copies of attachments for yourself in case you want to refer to it later. The announcement will tell you where to send your application and the final date you by which you must apply. If it is an examination for which you must apply in person, the announcement will tell you that as well. LATE APPLICATIONS ARE NOT ACCEPTED .

Application Review. Trained examination staff will review your application to determine if you have the education and work experience required for entry into the examination. If you do not meet the minimum requirements, you will receive a letter within approximately two weeks after the final file date. This letter will also provide an opportunity to submit additional information to clarify how you meet the requirements.


Reading the Examination Announcement. Go back to the examination announcement and read the section entitled "Examination Information". It will tell you what type of test will be used and what effect (known as "weight") each component will have on your final score. There are several combinations and variations. Any one or a combination of the types of tests described below may be used. Next, read the "Scope" section carefully; it will tell you what subjects will be covered.

Location of Tests. Written tests are given in a wide variety of locations throughout California. Oral tests are usually given in large metropolitan areas. Candidates are not reimbursed for travel to and from the test sites.

Written Tests. The test date is printed on the examination announcement. These tests typically consist of multiple-choice questions. Six to eight weeks after the test, you will receive a notice telling you whether you passed, but you will not receive a percentage score until all parts of the examination process are completed. If the test is pass/fail only, scores are not computed.

Oral Test/Interview. The oral test may be called "Qualifications Appraisal" or "Promotional Readiness Examination". Before going to the interview, review "The Position" and "Examination Information, Scope" sections on the examination announcement. In your interview, be prepared to tell the panel of two or three people about your education and experience, and how they have prepared you for this classification. You should also be prepared to talk about your career interests and goals. The panel will usually ask some situational questions and may ask for more detail on your background. The panel will have reviewed your application before you come into the room, but you may only be rated on what is discussed during the interview. The application admits you to the examination; it is in the oral interview that you must convince the panel that you can do the job better than the other candidates.

Supplemental Application. Multiple choice or essay questions are mailed out to candidates to be returned before the oral test/interview. They are used to get more details about your education and experience, and provide information for the interview panel. In some cases your entire score will be based on your responses to the Supplemental Application questions.

Education and Experience Evaluation. If the examination announcement states that there may be an Education and Experience Evaluation, it is absolutely critical that you fill out your application as completely and thoroughly as possible. Your score in this type of examination will depend entirely on the information on your application. There will not be a written test or interview.

Physical Ability. For law enforcement and some other classes, physical ability tests are commonly given and are frequently combined with vision and hearing tests. They are usually given just prior to hiring.


Test Results. It may take four to six weeks to score each part of the examination and to notify all candidates. If you do not receive your final test results within eight weeks of taking any test, contact the California Department of Social Services or the department conducting the examination.

The Employment List. The names of people who pass all parts of the examination are placed on an employment list. When there are job openings in State civil service, the people are contacted in order of placement on the list by score; that is, those with the highest score are contacted first and so on.

Filing for Vacant Positions. You do not need to wait for a contact letter (Standard Clearance and Waiver Form) to apply for positions. Vacancies are advertised weekly in the CDSS Job Vacancy Bulletin which is prepared by the Department's Equal Employment Opportunity Office. You may file for any job for which you have successfully completed the examination. If your score is reachable on the employment list, you will be considered along with those who have been contacted from the list.

Waiving Positions. You are not obligated to interview for every job or to accept the first job that is offered to you. However, if you waive a total of three contacts or offers, your name will be removed from the open employment list. Also, when you receive a contact letter, it is imperative that you respond, even if you do not wish to be interviewed. If you do not respond, it will be assumed that you are not longer interested in being hired from that list, and your name will be made inactive. To be made active again, you must write to the California Department of Social Services or the department that conducted the examination with a request.


The oral test was general, for an entire class, whereas, the hiring interview is specific to a particular job in a particular department. One class can offer a wide variety of opportunities. Before you go to your interview, acquaint yourself with the mission and functions of the department and how the prospective job contributes. The department has the discretion to hire anyone who is certified to them from an employment list.


When you have been hired, you will serve a probationary period of six months to one year. You will receive three probationary reports by your immediate supervisor, which evaluate your performance, how well you are learning your new job, and identify any problem areas. The report will be discussed with you and reviewed by your supervisor's supervisor. When you have successfully completed your probation, you will be a permanent State employee.