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How to read a job advertisement

Types of job postings

  • External - Positions open to the general public.
  • Internal - Positions open only to existing public service employees (and CAF members and Veterans who are eligible for Mobility).

In both cases, the job advertisement identifies an employment opportunity with a federal department. The information provided will help you determine if you have the skills and experience to be a good candidate for the position.

Content of a job posting

All job advertisements follow the same template and include:

Basic information, such as:

  • Job title, group and level
  • Salary range
  • Type of employment
  • Closing date
  • Intent of the process (e.g. how many positions are being filled, whether they are temporary or permanent)
  • Who can apply
  • Any employment equity considerations, for example, whether the hiring manager is targetting a particular employment equity group (women, visible minorities, persons with disabilities, aboriginal persons) to address a representation gap

Merit criteria, such as:

Hiring in the public service is based on merit, which means that a person who is appointed must meet each of the essential qualifications to be appointed. The hiring organization may also consider asset qualifications, operational requirements and organizational needs in their decisions.

  • Essential Qualifications – requirements for the position such as level of education, language (e.g. bilingual), work experience and/or occupational certification.
  • Asset Qualifications – “good to have” qualifications, such as knowledge, or skills that may put you ahead of other candidates who do not possess these qualifications, depending on the position(s) being staffed.
  • Operational requirements – shiftwork, heavy lifting, travel and other operational requirements that may apply
  • Organizational needs – employment equity, placing employees affected by workforce adjustment, respecting a land claims agreement, when they apply

Other criteria, such as:

  • Conditions of employment (e.g. Security clearance, shift work, travel, etc.). Conditions of employment must be met in order to be appointed to the position and must be maintained as long as you are occupying the position.


Use the “Contact Information” identified at the bottom of the job advertisement if you need clarification, or to discuss any accommodation requirements you may have.

Types of Employment

Acting or Term – a temporary position for a defined period of time (e.g. 6 months). These jobs don’t end your entitlements, but they may be a good opportunity to start working and gain experience in the public service during your search for a permanent job.

Assignment/Secondment – a temporary position for internal job advertisements only. Veterans and CAF members are not eligible for assignments, secondments.

Deployment – a move from one position to another, usually at the same or equivalent group and level, for internal advertisements only. Veterans and CAF members are not eligible for deployments.

Indeterminate – a permanent position. When you have a permanent job you no longer have entitlements under the Veterans Hiring Act.

Casual – a temporary position for up to 90 working days within a calendar year with one Department (i.e. you could also work a different 90-day casual with another department in the same calendar year). However, these jobs are a good opportunity to gain experience in the public service.

Part-time – a position that is less than 37.5 hours a week. It can be either a term or indeterminate. However, if the position is for less than 12 hours/week the position is treated the same as casual employment.

Other things to know

Anticipatory processes – a hiring manager may post an advertisement in anticipation of a vacancy or vacancies.

Inventory – Inventories, continuous intake and pools are used to create a collection of applicants for future vacancies, and may be accessed by more than one hiring manager for different reasons. You can be assessed before, during, or after being placed in an inventory, depending on the different needs of hiring managers If you are a placed in an inventory, you may receive an automated email after a certain period of time requesting that you re-submit your application – this is done to ensure that applicants who are still interested in the position have an opportunity to update their information with any experience or training they have acquired in the meantime.

Language requirement – the public service is required to provide bilingual service to the public, so proficiency in official languages is an essential qualification. A job advertisement will indicate English Essential, French Essential, Bilingual or Various linguistic profiles. For a unilingual position and for your first official language, these skills will be assessed in the usual way. However, for a bilingual position, language skills in your second official language are assessed through a series of specific tests designed for reading, writing, and oral interaction. You may be assessed even if you have a Second Language Profile from your military service.

When a job advertisement is bilingual, it may be staffed imperatively or non-imperatively:

  • Bilingual imperative – successful candidate must meet the second language requirement at the time of appointment.
  • Bilingual non-imperative – successful candidate can be appointed without meeting second language requirement, but must attain the language requirement within a specified period of time to retain the position.

Learn more

The Public Service Commission offers additional information for candidates as well as additional tips and information to help Canadian Armed Forces members and Veterans apply for public service jobs.

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