Civil Service Basics
Most positions working for New York State Government and almost all permanent positions with the Department of Environmental Conservation are covered by Civil Service Law. The following is basic information that will help applicants to understand the hiring process and take the mystery out of getting a job with New York State.
The majority of positions are "classified" as either Competitive or Non-competitive jurisdictional class.
Competitive positions require that the candidate for a position meet specific minimum qualifications, have taken, passed, and are found to be reachable on a civil service examination eligible list. There are occasions when an eligible list does not exist and a person is hired as a "provisional" basis pending the examination process.
Positions in the competitive class include almost all of our professional, paraprofessional, secretarial and clerical positions.
Non-competitive positions require that candidates meet specific minimum qualifications.
Positions in the non-competitive class include carpenters, plumbers, maintenance assistants, research scientists, artist designers and laboratory equipment designers. These positions are characterized by the determination that it is not practicable to conduct competitive examination to fill the positions.
All positions in the competitive and non-competitive classes have minimum qualifications established and these are unique to each classified title. Minimum qualifications can include any combination of the following: educational requirements; experience requirements; license and/or certification requirements; specific skills requirements; physical abilities; and if a bonafide occupational qualification, age and/or gender requirements. The qualifications are approved by the Department of Civil Service.
For positions in the competitive class, an examination will be announced by the Department of Civil Service which issues the conditions for qualifying, taking and accepting appointment from the resulting eligible list. Examinations are announced periodically throughout the year. Typically the announcement of an examination for a specific title will occur once every one to four years.
To view current examination announcements and to keep informed, go to the Department of Civil Service website.
We would also encourage you to sign up for the Department of Civil Service free examination notification service where you will receive an email whenever new examination announcements are issued.
The list resulting from an examination will contain the names of those candidates who have successfully passed the examination in score order. Appointment from the eligible list must be made of one of the top three candidates on the list willing to accept a position at a specific time and location. This is frequently referred to as the "Rule of Three". So as not to disadvantage anyone due to chance placement on the list, any candidate with the same score as the third acceptor is also considered to be reachable and one of the three top candidates. Candidates remain on an eligible list for a minimum of one year to four years or the maximum life of the list unless otherwise removed due to their request, action or appointment from the eligible list.
In order to determine who is willing to accept a position from the eligible list, a canvass letter is sent to those on the eligible list. The canvass indicates the title and location for the position that is being filled. Candidates on the list have fifteen calendar days from the date the canvass was sent to respond and indicate their interest in the position. Once the responses are received, those who indicate an interest in the position will be placed in ranked order and it will be determined who is likely "reachable" for appointment. Because additional candidates may decline the position at interview or upon offer of employment, determining the final reachable candidates is reviewed just prior to an appointment. Note: Responses to a "canvass" letter are only good for 90 days. If an appointment of a candidate is not completed within 90 days, another canvass letter may be sent to candidates for the same position.
Individuals appointed to a position in either the competitive or non-competitive class are subject to a probationary period as defined in Civil Service Law. Typically the probation for an initial appointment is for a period of one year.
During the period of probation, an appointee can be terminated with cause. After completion of probation, the only basis for termination is for incompetence or misconduct shown after a hearing or due to abolition of positions as defined by Civil Service Law. In the rare event of abolition of positions, permanent tenured employees are rehired in order of seniority.