With nearly 335,000 individuals employed by the Public Service of Canada, working for the government is a highly sought after career opportunity due to its job security, room for advancement, and a good salary. However, due to the lucrative nature of public sector jobs, it is quite competitive and can take some time before landing a role. As such, we’re sharing a few ways to improve your candidacy for public sector employment.

Try All Levels of Government

While often federal government jobs are most desired, they’re usually the toughest public service level to get into. Often a career path can lead to a federal government opportunity if you have previous experience working for municipal or provincial government roles. We suggest being open to opportunities in all levels of the government as any of the three public services lines can take your career to the next level and provide you with a stable and well paying job. Once you have that experience, it’ll open up more doors for you to pivot to a more senior position or to other levels of government.

Customize Your Application

When it comes to applying for a government job, the public service has standardized applications that are based on the candidate demonstrating evidence-based responses to their answers. For this reason, when answering any questionnaires associated with an application, it’s important to provide workplace examples when explaining which skills you possess. Your cover letter is another opportunity to convey why you’re the right individual for the role, so try incorporating why you want to work for that segment of the government, as well as discuss how you’ve obtained the desired skills that they mentioned in the job description.

Be Open to Temporary Work

Many permanent public sector workers start their careers with the government as temporary employees, which then gives them access to a breadth of internal job postings with permanent opportunities to apply to afterwards. By being open to contract or temporary work, you are increasing the chance of quickly landing lucrative job opportunities within the public sector, as well as other benefits that full-time permanent jobs don’t offer. Additionally, if you’re a current student or recent graduate, you may be eligible for internship programs with the government. To learn more about the benefits of temporary work, read our blog post, 5 Reasons You Should Consider Contract Employment.

Cultivate Highly Desired Skills

Many feel that learning new skills is something that you only do early on in your career, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Teaching yourself new abilities will not only make you a more attractive candidate, but also make you indispensable to any workplace. Some of the most highly desired skills within the public sector are bilingualism in both official languages, as well as technical and digital skills. To learn more about what skills you should be honing in on, read our blog post, How to Upskill for the Current Job Market.

Sign Up for Job Alerts

Often when public sector openings arise, there are hundreds of applicants within days, it’s important to stay on top of when new opportunities become available, and one way to do that is with job alerts. LRO Staffing offers weekly job alert emails specifically for government roles that you can sign up for. We also suggest trying to dedicate a half of an hour a couple times per week to browsing govjobs.ca which has job postings for roles at all levels of government. 

Prioritize Networking

Regardless if you’re looking for private or public sector employment, networking is key to finding connections that can help you secure your next role. Whether you have a past coworker or a relative who works in the public sector, try reaching out to anyone you know who has a government job to see if they have any knowledge of available roles or can help you get an interview. You can also try connecting on LinkedIn with hiring managers for the public sector and messaging them to see if they know of any opportunities or can let you know when something arises. Lastly, try attending networking events and job fairs to meet new professionals within the public sector.

Stay Motivated

While it’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t make it to the next round of interviews or land the role you were hoping for, staying persistent and motivated is key. It can often take months or years to successfully find employment within the public sector. That said, we hope the advice we provided helps you break into the industry. Should you have any questions or are looking for more career guidance, contact us today to be connected with one of our experienced recruiters.

Alita Fabiano

Author Alita Fabiano

Specializing in strategic communications, digital accessibility, as well as diversity and inclusion, Alita Fabiano has a passion for championing a stronger workforce through inclusion. Alita’s insights have also been published in the Ottawa Business Journal and Canadian SME Magazine, as well as she has been invited to speak to several organizations about inclusivity and accessibility.

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