Everyday amongst the bustling streets of San Francisco thousands of people help make the city a safer and healthier place to live in. Thanks to the hardworking public employees most of us rarely have to worry about dodging sewer rats on our walk down the street or contracting a deadly illness from breathing the air all around us. Everything from public health nurses and police officers to sanitation workers and MUNI workers are city employees.
In fact, the largest employer in San Francisco is the city itself. There are over 28,000 employees working in forty nine different departments. Certainly at the heart of any civil service job is the goal of serving the public and being a part of the movement to keep the Bay Area a viable, healthy place to live. An added benefit is the standard package of benefits that accompany any public sector job. With a generous pension plan and a strong likelihood that you won’t have to work on public holidays, the city is an employer to look into.
Of course, jobs in any public position are very different from those with a private company or a non-profit. Since a public sector job entails working for the public, it requires being accountable to the needs and wishes of taxpayers. For the average adrenaline junkie, civil service might not be the best choice of career path. For those that are excited about the idea of implementing longstanding changes that directly improve the lives of city residents, however, the public sector might be just the right fit.
It is important to keep in mind that not all public jobs take place inside offices. In fact, many public service jobs are at the forefront of interacting with residents of the city: including police officers, emergency services, and public health workers. These jobs are very much ‘in the trenches’ and can appeal to those who want a faster pace during the work day.
When it comes to applying for a job in the city, the online method is the way to go. As a result of Mayor Newsom’s call for Civil Service Reform, the city has upgraded their overall hiring process in an effort to streamline what used to be a lengthy procedure. “As the baby boom generation retires and the available workforce shrinks, the City had to ensure that our century old personnel system is an asset in our ability to attract and retain a talented and diverse workforce,” said Newsom.
With a recently revamped website, applicants can now create an account and save their résumé online. All the available openings are listed at www.sfgov.org/jobs and each job announcement lists the job title, description, hiring department, personnel analyst, filing date, requirements, salary and any other pertinent information.
According to Lillie Ellison, Recruitment Program Manager for the city, ‘everything is driven by this job announcement’. Her biggest piece of advice to applicants is to follow the directions down to the last detail. An applicant should read the job description carefully and if anything isn’t clear, the announcement usually has a telephone number to call for the personnel analyst that is assigned to that job. Some applications require supplemental questionnaires so make sure to scroll through all the notes pertaining to each announcement. For those that do not have access to a computer they can still apply through the city’s employment center at the Department of Human Resources Headquarters at 44 Gough Street. A workroom filled with computer kiosks and knowledgeable staff are available to applicants.
Ellison advises applicants to, “be prepared to be patient and just work through the process.” As she says, “Since it is a government job it is process driven. The taxpayers have the right to expect that the city hire the best and the brightest, so the hiring process is competitive.” Once a candidate has proven that he or she meets the requirements, the applicant may be invited to take a civil service examination. Upon passing the examination an applicant’s name will be placed on an eligibility list and may be contacted by hiring personnel.
All new appointees will be fingerprinted and some positions will require a background check. It may be required for an applicant undergo a drug test.
Currently the city has hundreds of job openings across all sectors of employment. Ellison points out that, “The number one shortage is our police officers. We have an accelerated hiring program and there is detailed hiring information on our website.” Another high priority for hiring is Public Safety Communication Technicians, also known as 911 operators. Either way, the San Francisco’s employment opportunities in the public sector are varied enough to fit just about anyone’s background.