Monday, June 02, 2008

The Canadian Public Service Job Search

The Canadian government boasts fair hiring practices. But something that always irks me is how they ask 'for statistical purposes' about being a minority or having any disabilities. That doesn't sound fair to me.

In France, they give preference to French people, which is wrong. I firmly believe that the best candidate should be hired, no matter what nationality. In France, it's so bad that foreigners often change their names to sound French.

In Canada, one might consider doing the opposite. The government even runs ads promoting skilled immigrants. What about ads promoting skilled Canadians?

If the government is underrepresented for Native Canadians, change your name to Kicking Post.
If there is a new hiring initiative to increase the representation of Pakistanis, can I register my new name as Ahmed Khan.


Most people who I know in government positions had a way in. They had someone in a hiring position, or in a position of importance to help get their resume in the right hands with a strong recommendation.

Someone I talked to the other day, working at Statscan, didn't have an in, but made a follow up call to inquire about his application. He'd heard interviews were being conducted.

"You must not be qualified, let me pull your file," the recruiter told him.

After a moment, the recruiter said, "You are very qualified, I don't know why you didn't get a call."

Only with the follow up did he get hired. Had he not followed up, they would have lost a qualified candidate.

Like him, I'm the white Canadian who knows nobody. I'm caught between a rock of nepotism and a hard place of affirmative action.


I've written around half a dozen government tests, yet for some reason I find my score is always a little bit lower than I expected. Meaning, I expect to get in the nineties, yet end up with around 80%.

On the multiple choice tests, I sometimes check the wrong box accidentally and erase and correct the mistake.
They say to erase completely, yet if I've filled it in too dark, it always leaves a little shading. I wonder if that gets marked wrong sometimes on the computers they pass them through.

I expect to get in the nineties for two reasons. One, that's what I generally score in the practice tests. Two, I have a feeling, upon finishing the tests, that I got nearly all the questions right, and am able to count the few which I struggled on. Human error, misreading, etc, might bring me down a couple marks, but going from 96/100 to 81/100 feels wrong.
If anything, I hope it's the other way around, and that I got lucky on one or more of the questions that stumped me.

I've realized, with a child and a wife, that a writing career will take a backseat to any other decent paying career. At home, I just can't get much of anything done with a boy who needs constant attention and a wife who has a knack of needing my help every time I get started on editing.

I will continue to plot books, and fish around for an agent for my current work, as well as writing articles and contest pieces.

As for my last application/test. The Statscan hiring initiative was posted for one day on the government website. 4000 people applied for an unknown number of positions. Maybe ten, maybe fifty, maybe one hundred?

At the Statscan test, 95% of people were still writing at the end. I finished and had a minute or two to spare.

It was basically an English test, designed to push people to finish on time. The questions were worded so that someone might have to read them two or three times to take in all of details and information.

I got 49/50 on the practice test, which you can do here.

If you do write it, be careful to time yourself for 85 minutes, because the majority of people don't finish on time.

I'm hoping for perfect, and am waiting for the result. Unlike my typical screw ups, I made zero accidental checking errors that needed to be erased, so it will be interesting to see if I get the near perfect marks I felt I scored.

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