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Understanding the hiring process

Joining the San Francisco family

The type of position that you apply for will determine which hiring process you go through.

The hiring process for exempt positions is not subject to civil service rules and is less formal than the path for Permanent Civil Service positions, but exempt roles afford fewer rights and protections to both applicants and employees. The main difference is an exempt application, usually, does not require an exam. The team hiring for an exempt role will set up a hiring process unique to that team, typically consisting of interviews.

Most City jobs are Permanent Civil Service, or PCS, meaning that the hiring process is driven by Civil Service Rules, and candidates will have to take at least one form of exam. We have described the PCS hiring process below, from a high level, but each job or job class may have a slightly different process.

Finding the right job

  • Job Advertisements: When departments have a position to fill they will post a job ad on the City’s career website. The job ad is the official notice of a recruitment and it informs candidates about the position(s) that the City is trying to fill. The advertisment includes information such as job description, minimum qualifications, and the selection procedures (exams, interviews) that will happen throughout the process.
  • Applying: Candidates are usually given a window of time to submit their application to formally express interest and to provide any additional information requested in the job ad. It is important that you pay attention to any dates that are listed; we are not allowed to accept late applications.

Do I have the right skills?

Minimum qualifications

Every application is reviewed to ensure that you meet the minimum qualifications for the position. This includes your experience, education, and certifications.

Exams and assessments

Exams are a tool that the City uses to gauge your knowledge, skills, and abilities fairly amongst others who apply.

Some exams may include multiple components or mulitple tasks. Your final score is based on a weighted average of these components.

Learn more

Eligible lists

Once you pass the exam, you will be placed onto an eligible list and given a score and a rank. Your score will tell you how you did on the exam and your rank will show you where you are amongst other candidates.

While a list of ranks and scores will be published, the names of applicants and their scores are kept confidential, in most cases.

The right spot on the right team

  • Referral: When a team or a department has an opening they will use an eligible list to fill that position. Depending on the type of position, this may be a new list, tailored just for that role, or a list that was created for many similar roles. The candidates who passed the exam and were placed on the eligible list are "referred" (made available) to the department for consideration. In many cases, only the top candidates on the list may be considered, but that line moves down as individuals are hired and more positions use the same eligible list.
  • Interviews and final selection: The hiring team may decide to follow-up with you to ensure that you are interested in the role they are hiring for. This process will be conducted via email, and it is important that you respond with your interest, to continue in the process. The selection process may include one or more interviews with the hiring manager or your future teammates.
  • Communication: Throughout this process, you may recieve several emails that appear to be system-generated. This is a normal part of the process, and you should be sure to take the time to read each message carefully. Messages seem unpersonalized as an effort to keep the hiring process fair, but each message will contain important information about the role that you are being considered for, and may have tasks and next steps for you. The selection process can take some time, but should not take more than 60 days. You will recieve a message from the person handling the selection process in the event that you are not selected, but this message may not come until the end of the process.

Final checks

As a local government employee you will be part of a team that is responsible for protecting the health and well-being of the more than a million people that live and work in San Francisco. This may mean that you have access to sensitive information, public funds, or you may be directly involved in providing face-to-face citizen services. To protect the safety of our residents as well as fellow employees, you will be required to go through some final checks before you can start work.

  • Qualification verification: We are required to verify the information that you provided in your application. This process may involve providing us with your transcripts, diplomas, and certifications, as well a calling references from your previous employers.
  • Background checks: All employees must go through a background check. For most employees this involves taking fingerprints and requesting records from California and the FBI (LiveScan check). Under City ordinance, the records that are returned are compared to the individual requirements of the position, so simply having records does not directly disqualify you from employment with the city.

Ready to come aboard

Congratulations on making it to the onboarding step, we are so excited to have you join our team. While every department and team handles these last steps a little bit differently, there are a few things that we can tell you to prepare for your first day:

  • Hiring information: You will receive an automated email requesting some final pieces of information to help us get you onto payroll quickly. Please keep an eye on your inbox for this form and complete it as soon as possible.
  • Prepping for your first day: The individual handling your onboarding will provide you with more information, but on your first day you should be prepared to fill out some forms related to tax witholding and getting paid. Be sure to bring two forms of ID to complete employment eligibility forms and a voided check if you wish to enroll in direct deposit.