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Ask Me About FSWEP and the Federal Government

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Ask Me About FSWEP and the Federal Government

I've been getting a fairly large number of PM's regarding FSWEP bridging and employment within the federal government. Instead of answering 3-4 PM's a day, I've decided to just make a thread about it and answer everyone's questions this way.

A bit of background:

I've worked with the federal government on a casual basis, through an agency, as FSWEP, and finally, as an indeterminate employee. I've experienced how employment through each of these methods has been beneficial as well as the drawbacks that come with them.

I've been with the federal government for nearly three years and I think I can say I know the hiring process better than most other individuals who have gone through it.

So...GO!

EDIT: Some people have requested contact information for those people who look after and manage the FSWEP program (i.e., confirming that their name is in the system, etc.). Sp0r3 has found some info, which I've included below:
Sp0r3 wrote:
Jan 12th, 2010 12:46 am
Found the website... http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/goc/fswep.shtml
Contact Information
* General Inquiries: 1 888 780-4444
* TTY: 1 800 532-9397
UPDATE 07/10/2016: I've been out of the FSWEP loop for quite a few years now. As such, I am bowing out from replying to posts on this thread as my knowledge may no longer be accurate/up to date (I actually did this unofficially a few years ago, but am making it official now). Hopefully the kind posters of RFD who has current/up to date knowledge of the program will continue to contribute to this thread and help out those with questions.
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Octavius wrote:
Oct 27th, 2008 5:14 pm
Hello All,

Well, I've been getting a fairly large number of PM's regarding FSWEP bridging and employment within the federal government. Instead of answering 3-4 PM's a day, I've decided to just make a thread about it and answer everyone's questions this way.

A bit of background:

I've worked with the federal government on a casual basis, through an agency, as FSWEP, and finally, as an indeterminate employee. I've experienced how employment through each of these methods has been beneficial as well as the drawbacks that come with them.

I've been with the federal government for nearly three years and I think I can say I know the hiring process better than most other individuals who have gone through it.

So...GO!
Octavius, thanks for starting this thread. What branches of the Federal Government besides the OSFI and the CRA have significant presence in Toronto? Thanks.
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What area of the fed gov are you in?
I'm with the DND and am in Public Affairs.
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What kind of positions should I apply for next summer with the best chance of getting in (IE: what position(s) they hire tons of people for)?

Is it a good idea to drop off resumes at Gov. of Canada outlets?
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Oct 19, 2007
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I applied to FSWEP back in October. When can I expect to hear back?
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w00t! Questions. I was starting to think students weren't interested in getting into the federal government ;)
alanbrenton wrote:
Nov 3rd, 2008 2:32 am
Octavius, thanks for starting this thread. What branches of the Federal Government besides the OSFI and the CRA have significant presence in Toronto? Thanks.
You'd have to define "significant". I'm in Ottawa and it's PACKED with various governmental departments and crown corporations. Admittedly, although Toronto is much, much larger than Ottawa, there isn't as much government presence there.

That being said, the federal government exists everywhere. In order to get a better idea of what departments are staffing or even have offices in your area, go to jobs.gc.ca and select the appropriate region and see what comes up. I'd say if you keep track of the different departments that's near you that's hiring, you'll have a much better idea then what I could tell you.
jcoltage wrote:
Nov 3rd, 2008 7:33 am
Student at Carleton - I want in....how?
Former student at Carleton myself.

Carleton has a Co-op program available with various governmental departments. Two co-workers of mine actually got in this way. I'm not too familiar with the co-op program or how the federal government sees it as applicable for bridging or not (both of these individuals went FSWEP shortly after, so I have no idea if co-op even played a role in finally hiring them permanently...likely not).

Alternatively, I would get into the FSWEP Program ASAP. In my last two years of University, my name got pulled (student lottery) a grand total of about 18 times - 3 of them just this past September.

The FSWEP Program is essentially a student lottery whereby students registered in it are picked at random for jobs that managers perform call ups for. They usually use certain criteria that they are looking for (outlook, MS office skills, knows how to use "the internet...yes, that is a "skill). Each year around September/October, the pool is expunged and the process starts a new.

Currently, the pool is practically empty since it was expunged middle of October. If you register now, your chances are much higher getting an interview/offer than in April or even August where the pool has many MANY more candidates within it that may be selected at random over you.

Sign up for FSWEP immediately. If you've got questions on the process, post it here.
newt_101 wrote:
Nov 3rd, 2008 8:23 am
What area of the fed gov are you in?
I'm with the DND and am in Public Affairs.
I would prefer not to disclose publicly where I work for personal reasons.
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AcidBomber wrote:
Nov 3rd, 2008 5:59 pm
What kind of positions should I apply for next summer with the best chance of getting in (IE: what position(s) they hire tons of people for)?
Frankly, whatever you're qualified for. Each job has different qualifications and need different levels of experience in order for you to be considered for the job. If you don't meet the minimums, your application will likely get booted out of the system by the Public Service Commission (PSC) before it even gets to the department in question (assuming you apply externally).

The jobs they hire the most for in terms of what you would be qualified for right out of an undergraduate degree are entry level jobs. Usually menial work like data entry, administrative assistants, assistant analysis, etc. The amusing thing is that MOST of these jobs could have been done with only a high school diploma. Kind of a kick in the balls to be honest.

Even with FSWEP, you're likely to be bridged into a level JUST above the bare minimum...so if you could have started off at 40k/year via externally as a CR-04, they may bridge you into an SI-01 which starts you off at 43k/year.

Most of the jobs I see advertised are administrative...but then again, those are the ones I focus on as it's the category where I'd be able to move up more quickly in ;)

If you're lacking in the work experience, entry level is about the best you can get. From there, moving up within the government isn't terribly difficult.

Oh, by the way...learn French if you're in Ontario/Quebec. A lot of jobs require BBB or BCB or CBC or even CCC (French Classifications, C = Highest, more or less) and if you don't have this, you can't do the job in question, even if you've done it before elsewhere for years.

By the way, if you're in Ottawa, French is practically a must. I don't know French at all and there's a heap of jobs that actually pay LESS then what I am making now that require full bilingualism. I have to skip over 1/2 of the jobs available for internal/external competitions just because I don't know French.
Is it a good idea to drop off resumes at Gov. of Canada outlets?
Guess it wouldn't hurt if they even accept it. Frankly, I'd say you'd be wasting your time. They'll usually tell you to apply to the FSWEP program or to keep an eye out on any postings on jobs.gc.ca (if we're hiring, you'll know by looking at that site).

There's only one or two ways that one can be hired by the federal government on a whim like that with no competition being held or no student lottery taking place...and the employment is extremely temporary and at the complete discretion of the manager wishing to pursue this process and the Director General of the department to sign off on it saying she agrees with it.

Hiring someone off the street like this just by looking at their resume is EXTREMELY rare - if not unheard of. There's just simply too much paperwork to process and the term of work, as I had mentioned before, is extremely temporary to hardly make it worth it for anyone involved as once your time is up you can't be renewed until the start of the next calendar year and the department will be stuck trying to find someone to fill in your shoes in the meantime...as well as having to train them...which means lost time and productivity (and even overtime for managers...which gets expensive) for the department. So like I said, pretty unlikely anything would come from you dropping off resumes to government departments, even if they'll accept them.
sillyflowa wrote:
Nov 3rd, 2008 7:30 pm
Octavius! So generous of you to open this thread to help everyone out :)

So this may not be your dept, but I applied to be a part of the PSR campaign (just wrote 3 long exams); how likely is it that somebody in this database actually gets hired in a decent position? At least 1000 were writing the exams in Vancouver, and another 2000 estimated in Toronto alone. So many candidates! I don't have much faith that I will get chosen for an interview for ANY position, let alone a decent/non-menial one...
You're welcome :)

PSR? No idea what that is.

Anyway, here's my thought process:

If they interviewed that many candidates, then they must be hiring a HUGE amount of individuals. Considering the size, I would bet that most (if not all) of these jobs will be term (less than 2 years, if even that much).

I personally applied for a number of positions externally where they did 7 days of testing via exams. Then they did interviews (which I was invited to take) and then I was told I was placed in a pool of candidates to be considered for positions if the internal pool (sometimes competitions are run internally and externally...with priority given to the internal pool) gets exhausted.

I think one of the positions I was competing with around 2000 some other applicants. I wrote a test with about 250 other people at a basement of a hotel.

Usually, it goes application online (then wait 3 months), get an email inviting you to write a test (write the test, then wait 3 months), get an email inviting you to take an interview (go to interview, then wait about 3 months), then get an email stating you have been awarded a position or that you have been placed in a pool of candidates.

Every job I've been extended an offer to write a test for, I've made it to the very end of the process.

As I mentioned previously, jobs awarded will depend on your qualifications. More often than not, most of the jobs to start will be menial as we all have to start somewhere ;)
e007 wrote:
Nov 3rd, 2008 7:49 pm
I applied to FSWEP back in October. When can I expect to hear back?
When in October? I believe the program started a new on the 18th or 23rd. If you applied beforehand, check to make sure that your application is still active. If it isn't, you'll never hear anything from anyone.

You may never hear from them or you may hear from them tomorrow. It all depends when departments are looking for people to fill in the void that they have.

Most staffing, from what I can tell, comes in waves. There'll be a wave of hires between February and June (preparation for the summer where most government offices are ghost towns) and a wave of hires from August to September (no idea why, but my name got pulled rather often during this time for some reason).

There will also be requests periodically from various departments that will need a student to work part time to handle some tasks that permanent employees can't be bothered with doing or simply don't have the time for.

In either case, get into the system NOW. The sooner you're in, the more likely you've got a chance at getting your name pulled. As I mentioned previously, the pool is currently pretty empty compared to what it will be like in a few months as more students begin to register. The less people in the pool, the greater chances that you've got to have your name pulled and be extended an offer to come in for an interview and be extended an offer of part time employment.

Also, for what it's worth, I noticed that my name got pulled more often as I progressed through my degree. I could be wrong, but I would guess that they show preference for students who are in their 3rd/4th years compared to 1st/2nd years...but again, I don't know for sure. It could have just been the way it worked out for me personally.

A lot of students at my workplace are in their 2nd year...so it's certainly possible to get your name pulled on FSWEP regardless of what year you are in.
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Nov 3, 2008
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I applied to a PC-02 classification position earlier in the year and I was notified that I'm in a partially assessed pool for health and environmental canada. I got this email in June and it is now Nov. I've been told by friends who work in the government that I should go to GED and find managers to see if they are hiring.

Is this a good idea based on your experience?
and if it is
How do i find managers who are looking for PC-02 classification?

I'm really not sure what to do...
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diojotaro wrote:
Nov 4th, 2008 1:21 pm
I applied to a PC-02 classification position earlier in the year and I was notified that I'm in a partially assessed pool for health and environmental canada. I got this email in June and it is now Nov. I've been told by friends who work in the government that I should go to GED and find managers to see if they are hiring.

Is this a good idea based on your experience?
and if it is
How do i find managers who are looking for PC-02 classification?

I'm really not sure what to do...
Since you're in a pool of candidates, I don't see any harm in emailing some managers that would be allowed to draw from that pool and asking them if they happen to be staffing anytime soon and/or if they would be willing to sit down with you and perhaps talk about any prospective jobs that may be coming up. Perhaps after meeting with you, they may be more inclined to request you from the pool and hire you (that is, if the pool is set up in a way that managers would be allowed to request person X rather than the person managing the pool randomly handing them the name of a candidate to hire).

First of all, contact the department that is managing the pool. On the email that you got back in June, there should be some contact information at the bottom (if there are any questions, please email ...). Ask them which sectors/branches/departments are allowed to draw from that pool (as not all departments have access to a particular pool, they're usually limited in terms of who can draw candidates from it). If possible, request the name of some managers that have recently drawn from the pool (you may get some names, may not, depends upon who is managing the pool) and follow up with them.

Keep in mind that most of the stuff involving the pool is kept pretty under wraps. They won't even tell you how many people are in the pool, or where you stand in it.

Worst case scenario, use the internet and get a number for one of the departments near you. Try to find your way up the grapevine to someone who has the authority to hire you.

It isn't uncommon for people to be in a pool of candidates and never get offered a position.

Good Luck.
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sillyflowa wrote:
Nov 3rd, 2008 7:30 pm
Octavius! So generous of you to open this thread to help everyone out :)

So this may not be your dept, but I applied to be a part of the PSR campaign (just wrote 3 long exams); how likely is it that somebody in this database actually gets hired in a decent position? At least 1000 were writing the exams in Vancouver, and another 2000 estimated in Toronto alone. So many candidates! I don't have much faith that I will get chosen for an interview for ANY position, let alone a decent/non-menial one...
Hey Octavius, I kind of know the answer to this one, if you don't mind. PSR is Post-Secondary recruitment. I've been through it and have never made it all the way to the end, although I do work full-time for the Federal Gov't. PSR is always worth a shot, especially if you do well on tests. The exams screen out lots of folks, then there's the interviews :eek: If you do happen to be one of the chosen few (the amount that are hired varies from year to year and depends on the category), the jobs are decent. Some of the very ambitious types aren't satisfied, but it can be a great training ground for other things. They are not hiring for clerical positions and are willing to provide lots of training for these individuals they see as the best of the best. Lots of luck to you Sillyflowa! :)
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DarcyC wrote:
Nov 4th, 2008 4:57 pm
Hey Octavius, I kind of know the answer to this one, if you don't mind. PSR is Post-Secondary recruitment. I've been through it and have never made it all the way to the end, although I do work full-time for the Federal Gov't. PSR is always worth a shot, especially if you do well on tests. The exams screen out lots of folks, then there's the interviews :eek: If you do happen to be one of the chosen few (the amount that are hired varies from year to year and depends on the category), the jobs are decent. Some of the very ambitious types aren't satisfied, but it can be a great training ground for other things. They are not hiring for clerical positions and are willing to provide lots of training for these individuals they see as the best of the best. Lots of luck to you Sillyflowa! :)
Ah, the acronym makes much more sense now.

I'm actually completely clueless about this program...so thanks for chiming in ;)
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Jun 12, 2005
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Here is my honest opinion about FSWEP/Public Service... it sucks.

According to the managers, I was hired to perform clerical work despite what the contract states. OK fine, I'll tough it out and move through the ranks. One year later, I am still at the bottom of the hierarchy. Also, I have to deal with an ethical issue where I am pressured to work slower such that we do not get laid off. Since the FSWEP rates of pay are public, I'll share that I get paid $19/hour to perform work that a 14 year old should do.

If the bridging mechanism interests you, then you will be severely disappointed. It is basically access to the Public Service of Canada's internal staffing job search board that can only be accessed at work. There are so many issues with this mechanism. 1) Jobs must be open to the area you work/reside in 2) 70% of the jobs are bilingual imperative 3) 1% of the professional jobs are entry level tailored for new graduates.

There is literally no room for advancement. Although your department would most likely re-hire you, you may be unlucky like me such that there are no positions related to your field of study. I've tried so hard to transfer into other departments however it is extremely difficult. The Public Service Commission of Canada does not care and my managers cannot do much.

One last complaint... my coworkers are so lazy and whine so much.
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Oct 3, 2006
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I worked for Service Canada this past summer through FSWEP. Students looking to get a government career should be disappointed to know that they expect you to go back to them doing the same entry level job for 4 years (or until you graduate), then you can be bridged (and this is a maybe). Evidently, this severely limits your work experience and exposure to different types of jobs/companies.
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Sep 9, 2005
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sillyflowa wrote:
Nov 3rd, 2008 7:30 pm
Octavius! So generous of you to open this thread to help everyone out :)

So this may not be your dept, but I applied to be a part of the PSR campaign (just wrote 3 long exams); how likely is it that somebody in this database actually gets hired in a decent position? At least 1000 were writing the exams in Vancouver, and another 2000 estimated in Toronto alone. So many candidates! I don't have much faith that I will get chosen for an interview for ANY position, let alone a decent/non-menial one...
which jobs did you apply for from the PSR campaign? because aside from DFAIT, i did not have to write tests. some departments that are part of the PSR campaign just called me on my cell and told me they'll interview me. one bad thing about PSR is they take so long to get back to you, i wont know if i made it to the 2nd round interview until mid/end of december.

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