Human Resources Office
How to Get a Job with the State

In accordance with the California State civil service process, becoming a California State employee consists
of five steps:

1. The Examination Process
2. List Eligibility
3. Locate a Vacant Position
4. Participate in a Hiring Interview
5. Probation
Step 1: The Examination Process

Before you can be appointed to a civil service position, you must first take and pass an open or open/non-promotional competitive examination and obtain list eligibility.  Veterans may also apply for promotional examinations; however, they can only be on one promotional eligibility list statewide for each classification they qualify for.

The examination bulletin contains information regarding the minimum qualifications (education and experience) required for the classification in order to take the examination.  The examination bulletin also contains information regarding how, when and where to file for a particular examination. To find out more information about a particular classification, go to the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) website at

Examinations are given by CalHR and by individual State departments.  To obtain additional information regarding specific Department of Water Resources (DWR) examinations, go to the Current Exams webpage.  DWR also maintains copies of examination bulletins at its Human Resources Office located at 1416 9th Street, Room 320 in Sacramento.  CalHR maintains all department examination bulletins on the California Department of Human

To apply for an examination, you must complete a State Application Form (STD 678) and submit as indicated on the examination bulletin.  State application forms are available from any local Employment Development Department office, any State of California agency and from the CalHR website indicated above.  All applications received are reviewed by qualified examination staff and upon determination that minimum qualifications are met, applicants will be notified of a test date. Late applications are not accepted.

Examinations may consist of one or more components such as a written test, oral interview, supplemental application and/or performance test.  The examination information section of the bulletin describes the type of testing to be used in the examination.

Additionally, examinations for various classifications are available to take online.  Applicants that meet the minimum qualifications of the classification can apply and take an online examination; receive immediate examination results and be placed on an eligibility list for that classification.  Online examinations are advertised on the DWR Current Exams website and the California Department of Human Resources website as noted above.

Step 2: List Eligibility

Successful examination applicants are placed on eligibility lists, which are divided into ranks by score. Only those candidates that are in the top 3 ranks of the list may be considered for appointment. When a rank is cleared (all candidates in the rank are either hired or no longer available for employment), the next lowest rank is then considered and those candidates may now be considered for appointment. Specific information on list eligibility for each examination is found in the Eligible List Information section of the Examination bulletin.

Step 3: Locate a Vacant Position

If you have taken and successfully completed an examination and are reachable on the eligibility list, the next step is to locate a vacant position. There are many ways to obtain vacancy information.

  • The Exams and Vacancies Search Engine available on is a service provided by the California Department of Human Resources. The search engine contains information on current examinations and job vacancies statewide. You may apply for any position advertised in this database for which you have taken and passed the appropriate examination.

  • The Department of Water Resources vacancy listing is also available and can be accessed through DWR’s Job Vacancies webpage. You may apply for any position advertised in this database for which you have taken and passed the appropriate examination
  • Candidates on eligibility lists may also receive contact letters inquiring if they are interested in applying for a particular job opening. Please note: due to large numbers of candidates on some eligibility lists, the online system may randomly choose the candidates who will receive a contact letter. If you are on the eligibility list for the classification/position being advertised, and do not receive a contact letter, you may still apply for the position; however if you are the selected candidate, you must be reachable on the eligibility list in order to be appointed.
  • Students may apply for Youth Aid, Student Assistant, Graduate Student Assistant, or Student Assistant (Engineering and Architectural Sciences) positions without taking an examination. Additional information regarding student assistant opportunities may be obtained from the DWR Student Employment page.
Step 4: Participate in a Hiring Interview

The hiring interview is specific to the particular department and position. One classification can offer a wide variety of opportunities. This process is designed to identify the best job/applicant match for the specific position advertised. Prior to your interview, you should acquaint yourself with the mission and functions of the department and how the position you are interviewing for contributes to them. The department has the discretion to hire anyone who is certified to them from an employment list or who meets the qualifications to transfer.

Step 5: Probation

All newly appointed state employees participate in a probation period which is 6 or 12 months, depending on the job classification. During this time you will receive training related to your position and three probationary reports/evaluations tracking on-the-job performance. Upon successful completion of the probationary period, employees will obtain permanent civil service status in the classification.

For more information about the examination and civil service process, please visit the California Department of Human Resources website