Frustrated jobseekers may be wondering, is anyone hiring? The answer is yes - especially in parts of the public sector.
One of the largest public service employers is the US Postal Service, with 800,000 employees based in 38,000 facilities nationwide. The service is one of the country's essential communication links, delivering 630 million pieces of mail daily to 137 million households and businesses.
Now might be the best time in recent memory to pursue a postal job, before the mailbags of competing applications pile up. Next month, for the first time since 1989, the postal service will actively recruit through a public job announcement.
Positions range from mail processing and delivery to vehicle maintenance and temporary jobs. All openings are posted on the website, www.USPS.com, and you can apply online or by phone at 1-866-999-8777. Applicants need apply only once, but you will need an announcement number identifying the opening you wish to pursue. After your application is processed, you will be sent a package that includes an exam date, time and location, along with materials to help you prepare. You must receive a passing score of 70 on the written exam to receive further employment consideration.
Frank, a postal service employee who declined to give his last name, offers a tip for enterprising jobseekers. "Several years ago after I applied for my present job and got an appointment for the test, I went to Barnes and Noble booksellers, bought a postal exam guide and I studied hard," he recalls. "It really helped me to become familiar with the test, which is multiple choice. If you aren't good with tests and get nervous easily, you can practice with the book and feel comfortable with the process. It worked for me. I have been here 25 years."
The postal service encourages applications from veterans and disabled jobseekers. "With proper letters of documentation from the Veteran's Administration hospital or the service branch, they can come in anytime to register to take the test," according to Frank. "They also can come into any post office. We're glad to have them."
Seasonal postal jobs, basically 90-day appointments during the hectic Christmas and tax seasons, are also available. The pay usually starts at $9 an hour. "For retirees or folks who just want to supplement their income, there are part-time positions under the category of rural carrier associates," Frank advises. "These are basically substitute mail-carrier jobs and there always seem to be openings in the remote areas."
The best place for employment, he says, is in the sprawling mail distribution centers where there are many more opportunities.
"With the new postal service plan to keep up with our competitors, FedEx and UPS, some workers will be replaced with robots that don't require medical insurance," he expects. "I don't think the customers will go for it. You never will replace a face with a machine."
Motor into DMV
Another public service possibility is with the Department of Motor Vehicles. "Our department has 168 offices employing 9100 people," explains Steve Haskins, spokesman for the DMV in Sacramento. "We are looking for bright people who are comfortable and enjoy dealing with the public in a variety of situations. Being multilingual is definitely a plus."
Anyone calling DMV's designated testing center in Sacramento will be referred to the State Personnel Board. For all state jobs, you have to take a test, then get on the eligible list and have an interview. Current opportunities are limited, Haskins says, so competition is keen.
Break into Corrections
Despite the state's recent hiring freeze, one agency is definitely looking for employees. "We are actively recruiting for peace officer positions both as corrections officers and medical assistants," reports Mike Day, peace officer recruiting manager with the California Department of Corrections. "The healthcare positions range from nurses and dentists to chief medical officers."
In the Department of Corrections, healthcare personnel are sworn peace officers qualified to perform routine healthcare and custodial functions.
Recruiters in three locations - Sacramento, Rancho Cucamonga and Fresno - are available to help with the hiring process. Or go to www.corr.ca.gov and click on career.
A corrections officer must be at least 21 years old, in good health, and have a high school diploma or equivalent, and no felony convictions. Candidates undergo drug screening, physical, psychological and medical examinations and a thorough background check, Day says.
"There are 32 (prison) institutions in California," he notes. "Candidates can request specific areas of employment, but we can't guarantee a specific location."
The hiring procedure, including the examination, background check and selection process can take four to ten months. This includes a 16-week stretch at the department's academy in Galt. New hires are paid during training.
"Starting pay for a corrections officer begins at $13.11 an hour," Day says. "Next tier is the apprenticeship program, with a salary of $2,800 a month. Upon completion of the two-year apprentice program, monthly pay can range from $3,764 to $4,573."
According to Day, the best attribute an applicant can bring to the job is a history of law-abiding behavior. Honesty is also essential. He warns that falsification on an application could result in jail time.
"Those interested in our department should know there are many career opportunities and a correctional officer position is just the entry point," he explains. "You can be in for life. As you promote and move up through the department, more career paths will open."
Specialty jobs could be the ticket. "Just to name a few, we have positions for those interested in investigations and, like any other law enforcement agency, we have an academy that needs instructors," he notes. "Our turnover is not that high, but we are in a hiring mode."
For more information on jobs in the public sector, check these sources:
- California State Personnel Board - spb.ca.gov, (916) 653-1705
- Department of Corrections - corr.ca.gov, 1-866-CDC-JOBS
- Department of Motor Vehicles - dmv.ca.gov, (916) 657-6325
- FederalJobs.net - In addition to current opportunities, this website offers links, resources and an overview of government employment, exams, how to apply to certain agencies, etc.
- FedWorld.gov - This site, managed by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), offers a search of open federal jobs gathered from hundreds of government agencies. The database is updated every Tuesday through Saturday at about 6:30am. (703) 605-6000
- GovtJobs.com - Lists government job openings and links to other resources for municipal, city and county government websites, state leagues and associations, statewide newspapers, etc. (641) 791-9019
- PSE-net.com - Public Service Employees Network offers job listings, resources, information on how to find and apply for government jobs, and links to state jobs. Topics include FAQs on federal jobs, sample exam questions, resume tips, etc.
- SCILOG.org - Southern California Institute for Local Government offers links and current listings of state, county, and city jobs (not just for Southern California). Click "Jobs On-Line" for a list of current openings.
- USAjobs.opm.gov - The federal government's official one-stop source for employment information. Jobseekers can search jobs, build and post a resume and, in many instances, apply online. USAjobs can also be accessed through an automated telephone system by calling (478) 757-3000 or TDD (478) 744-2299.
- U.S. Postal Service - usps.com, (866) 999-8777