It is relatively common knowledge that Ottawa has been going through something of a tech renaissance in recent years. You’ve likely seen it on the nightly news, read it in the local papers, or maybe you’ve come across it here on our blog. Ottawa is in-fact a great place to be if you want to work in the tech industry or any of the many spinoff sectors that have developed around it.
However, the employment base which allowed for so much economic diversity, strength, and experimentation in this region is, of course, the Federal Government.
In 2019, the Federal Government shows a total of 287,978 employees across the country. Of that number, 121,230 of them work in the National Capital Region. This number represents 8.6% of the region’s total population. And, we haven’t even looked at the Ontario Public Service positions in the area, or those jobs with the local municipalities.
With this multitude of public service positions located in one geographic area, there is bound to be a lot of interest in getting a government job. Canadian government positions are often highly sought after due to a variety of factors which include:
- A tendency to be more recession-proof than other sectors of the economy.
- Many Federal, Provincial, and Municipal Government departments routinely turn up on the list of Ottawa’s Top Employers.
- Strong compensation and benefits packages
So What is the Best Way to Get a Government Job in Ottawa?
Be Ready for a Different Sort of Process
When applying for a Government Job, you can expect a higher degree of formality than seen in the private sector. Many applicants hoping to make the jump from the private to the public-sector often take themselves out of contention by not appreciating these substantial differences. We’re going to outline a few noteworthy things to consider.
Understanding the Criteria
Government positions tend to have a substantial list of qualifications and not a lot of room for negotiation. The list is crafted to make the process as objective as possible, meaning you are very unlikely to get a manager who wants to take a chance on you despite not having the right eligibility. You either qualify, or you don’t. For the Federal Government, in particular, the criteria will usually be denoted as Essential Qualifications and Asset Qualifications. Asset Qualifications are the government version of nice-to-have skills. However, having as many of these as possible is going to give you an edge. Often if there is a tight competition for the open position, the candidate with more of the asset qualifications will carry the day.
Crafting Your Documents
The cover letter and resume take on a slightly different form when applying for government work. In the Public Sector, these documents are less of a sales package and more of a checklist. Your cover letter should clearly state how you meet each of the Essential Qualifications and which Asset Qualifications you possess. Your resume acts as a substantiating document to your cover letter, by way of your employment history. Don’t assume that the hiring manager will look for your Essential Qualifications on your resume if they are not on the cover letter. Also, ensure that you are using the language from the job posting on your cover letter. Hiring managers want to approve you for an interview or disqualify your application quickly. Try to make it as easy as possible for them.
As you can probably imagine, the Public Sector interview is a different sort of process as well. As the interviewer is looking to rank candidates using objective criteria, the questions are most commonly the same for each prospect. Where a private sector manager may ask you to talk about a relevant job from your past and prompt you to expand on your answer, a government interviewer will not attempt to clarify questions, provide additional information, or assist you in structuring your response. Ordinarily, they will take down your answers verbatim and give each response a score. After all of the interviews are complete, the highest score is awarded the job. To prepare, you will want to list the Essential Qualifications and write out one suitable example from your employment history for each. Ensure that each answer demonstrates to the interviewers how your experience is connected to the specific qualification. You will have approximately 45 minutes to answer usually ten questions, so take your time.
Finding the Right Job for You
No matter what level of government you’re hoping to find employment with, they all have a portal system where you can maintain a profile (Municipal, Provincial, Federal). This system is convenient in the sense that you have your documentation already uploaded in a secure environment and can very quickly push through an application for a new position that is of interest to you.
A more advanced option is to look for ways to follow government recruiters through their social media channels. You can set job alerts on LinkedIn that will deliver a list of positions weekly to your inbox. Although, a great option with the Federal Government is to follow their government jobs facebook page. This way, new career options will appear in your newsfeed as they become available. Another fantastic option is to sign-up for our weekly job-alerts as we are continually adding new contract jobs in the public sector.
Following the Job Fairs
Government recruiters are regular participants in career fairs. Engaging with them can be a great way to gain insight into what it’s like to work for a specific department and learn tips and tricks for making a good impression. While many of the career fairs tend to be associated with colleges or universities, various government agencies will attend more general events if they are planning to expand the department. If there is a government department you have an interest in, be sure you follow their specific Facebook page to learn about these events in advance.
If you have an interest in working for the Canada Revenue Agency, they tend to be among the most active at job fairs, as they are very often in need of people in both contract and permanent positions. The next CRA Recruitment Event in Ottawa is Friday, November 15, 2019, from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Be sure to register in advance to attend.
Working with a Professional
Finding government work can be decidedly different from looking for a position in the private sector. However, as a professional recruiter, LRO Staffing works with government teams to help them find the right candidates to fill their contract needs. On the LRO job search page, you can select government positions from the dropdown menu and work with us to connect to a posting. We regularly have listings for contract positions on our site. By signing up for Job Alerts, we will send you regular updates on new posts that meet your interests. Be sure to also connect with us on Facebook, so you never miss a listing. However, we still think the best way to connect with new career opportunities is to work with a member of our recruitment team. We can help advise you on the best approach to shopping your particular skill sets and helping to match your abilities with the right opportunity, government or otherwise.