Overview of the State Hiring Process

The Natural Resources Agency is here to help you navigate the state hiring process.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Create an account on calcareers.ca.gov (the state jobs website)
  2. Find a job you’re interested in
  3. Take the exam for the classification of the job
  4. Acquire list eligibility for the classification
  5. Review the duty statement on the job posting to understand the job responsibilities
  6. Fill out Standard 678 form with your relevant previous professional experiences
  7. Complete all other necessary parts of the job application (Statement of Qualifications, resume, etc.)
  8. Submit the job application!

What are the exams?

Before you apply to any state job, you must take and pass the exam for the classification of the job. Here are some examples of classifications for jobs in the Natural Resources Agency:

  • Staff Services Analyst
  • Staff Services Manager
  • Associate Governmental Program Analyst
  • Office Technician
  • Coastal Program Analyst
  • Attorney
  • Forester
  • Research Data Specialist
  • Energy Resources Specialist
  • Environmental Scientist

Two of the most common classifications across the state hiring process are the Staff Services Analyst (SSA) and Associate Governmental Program Analyst (AGPA) classifications. Jobs under the Staff Services Analyst classification are usually entry-level positions, while jobs under the Associate Governmental Program Analyst classification are usually mid-level positions.

Important note: the exams for both of these classifications are not actual “exams” in the literal sense of the term. The exams for these classifications are more like questionnaires—they ask about your experience with certain skills, how many years you have utilizing these skills, and if you have any experience managing or supervising other people in these skills in a multiple-choice format. To see a preview of the SSA exam, click here. To see a preview of the AGPA exam, click here.

Be sure to check out the Official Exam Bulletin of each classification to see a preview of the exam and find out whether the exam is a questionnaire format or an examination format. You can see a list of all classifications and access their Official Exam Bulletins here.

Once you pass an exam, you then have list eligibility for that classification. There is no limit on the number of different classification exams you take, but if you do not pass an exam for a specific classification, you have to wait 6 months before you can take the exam for that classification again.

Some jobs are cross-listed for multiple classifications, meaning that the employer will accept applications from different classifications. For example, if a job is cross-listed for both SSA and AGPA classifications, this means the employer will accept applications from individuals who are list eligible under either of these classifications.

What is the Standard 678 form?

Also known as the STD 678, this is a form required by all California state jobs. It contains a person’s personal information, basic employment questions, education, work history, demographic/EEO data. It asks for details related to your previous professional positions, including working dates for each position, location, and a thorough description of your responsibilities and tasks.

You have the ability to create templates from your STD 678 forms after you’ve submitted a job application. This is so that you don’t have to continuously populate all of the sections of the STD 678 for each new job application.

What are the other necessary parts of a state job application?

Each job will require a different set of additional materials. The most common are:

  • A resume
  • A statement of qualifications (SOQ)

Sometimes jobs additionally require:

  • A cover letter
  • A writing sample
  • Transcripts
  • Other niche materials

A statement of qualifications, more commonly known as a SOQ, is a narrative discussion of the knowledge, skills, and abilities an applicant possesses in relation to the desirable qualifications listed in the job posting and duty statement. This is not a form; it is a word document that you will create and upload/attach to your state application when applying for a job. Sometimes the SOQ is open-ended and will merely ask you to describe the relevant education, training, experience and skills you possess and why you feel you are the most qualified for this position. Other times, there will be explicit questions for you to answer. Follow the instructions on the job posting.

For an example of an open-ended SOQ, click here.

For an example of a SOQ with questions, click here.

Basics of writing a strong statement of qualifications:

Familiarizing yourself with calcareers.ca.gov:

Step-by-step video tutorial on how to apply to a state job from CalHR: