The State Worker

Want a state job but don’t know where to start? California has a new website for that

California state government has 3,922 “help wanted” ads and a brand new website to help you find the one that’s right for you.

The state this spring launched another redesign of a once-clunky website that posts open public sector jobs and allows people to apply for them online. This time, the website has a feature that lets candidates find jobs that are close to their homes, as well as a tool to help people understand whether they’re qualified to apply for a particular position.

It’s the second time in two years that the state Human Resources Department overhauled its own version of, aiming to attract millennial workers or people from the private sector who are unfamiliar with the arcane language of civil service.

This time, state leaders listened to criticism they received from people trying to use the website as they added new features to it.

One unexpected request from job seekers: Make the website usable for people who want to apply for jobs from their mobile phones. Cal HR fulfilled that request, meaning you can scroll through job openings and submit an application from your phone.

“This is the first time on one our state jobs that they took feedback and responded,” said Greg Kiefer, president of the Folsom-based Kiefer Consulting, the company that worked with Cal HR on the website redesign.

The new website, now branded as CalCareers, gives job seekers five pathways to find an appealing position.

One caters to current state workers, enabling them to find promotion opportunities by searching state job classifications and salary scales. Early focus groups showed that those workers understand the system well and are most comfortable looking for jobs with the terms they know.

Another option opens doors for people who do not already work for the state. It tries to walk candidates through the process of finding and applying for a state job.

“How would you actually do it? What are the steps to get a state job?” Cal HR spokesman Joe DeAnda said.

It sounds straightforward, but some candidates are thrown off by requirements that they pass an exam before being considered for a job. Some involve sitting down for a written test; others are quick online assessments asking about an applicant’s work experience.

“This is very confusing for people,” said Cal HR Chief Information Officer Chad Crowe.

Two more online pathways at target people who might be able to receive hiring preferences in civil service: veterans and people with disabilities.

And the last one focuses on retired state workers who often are eligible for part-time positions.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration has been rethinking regulations that govern state workers since 2013, when it created the Government Operations Agency. That agency is managing a project called civil service improvement that aims to modernize public sector employment.

Kiefer Consulting earned $97,742 for its work on the website. Staff at Cal HR did much of the work.

They built on the 2016 release of a state employment website that for the first time allowed people to search for jobs without knowing the particular term state government used to describe certain careers.

For instance, searching with the word “lawyer” in the past would not get results for attorney vacancies, and using the word “janitor” would not yield openings for custodians. The newer versions of the website fixed that flaw, helping outside candidates find jobs.

Despite the improvement, that version of the website did not win much affection from job seekers or the state departments that recruit through it. It had a dreary appearance, and it still left people to figure out for themselves whether they were qualified for a position.

The latest jobs website, Crowe said, invites applicants to “Go find your dream job, and we’ll show you to get there.”

Adam Ashton: 916-321-1063, @Adam_Ashton. Sign up for state worker news alerts at