How Do I Go into Civil Service?

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  • Written By: A. Garrett
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 11 January 2020
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An individual interested in a civil service career can apply through a centralized government recruitment office or, depending on the region and type of government, directly to the department he seeks to work in. Civil service is employment in national, state, or local government. Each level of government has its own system for hiring personnel. The departments within each system perform the tasks and duties outlined for them by the policymakers of their governments respective executive branches. Consequently, someone seeking a civil service job must understand the government protocol for hiring personnel in his region or identify the human resources office of the particular department he wants to work in.

Some governments offer central recruiting as a means for identifying and hiring civil service employees. Such centralized recruiting is usually reserved for high achieving college students or recent graduates who are confident that a career in civil service is what they want — however some governments also have testing for non-college graduates who want to work in supporting roles. Under the centralized structure, a potential applicant must register with the office or website designated to handle recruitment. During this process, an individual usually provides basic biographical information, academic credentials, a resume, and any legal issues that may preclude him from employment.


After registration is complete, the applicant is usually provided a list of dates and testing center locations for the civil service exam. This exam typically tests an applicant’s verbal, quantitative, and reasoning skills. Some exams may also contain a personality or situation judgment test to determine if an applicant is mentally and morally fit for a job in government.

If the applicant passes the initial civil service exam, he may then be assessed for competency. These aptitude tests seek to determine how well an individual works in a group. Prospective civil service employees may also have their communication skills tested by giving an oral presentation. Finally, a representative from the recruiting office may personally interview the recruit. Upon successful completion of the exam and aptitude phases of testing, candidates are usually matched to jobs based on how well they score.

In addition to centralized recruiting, the individual departments may also offer a means of direct entry into civil service. Candidates specializing in a certain field or having advanced degrees — e.g., doctors, lawyers, engineers, and accountants — may apply directly to the government agencies that hire people with their skill sets. Such job openings are usually advertised via newspaper, job posting web sites, the individual agency website, and university career services offices. Direct entry may also be utilized by individuals who have career experience in other government departments or the private sector and are seeking to change career paths.


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