SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — They are some of the most coveted jobs in California, and now the “now hiring” sign is out like never before.

Jobs with the state of California can bring stability, security, a decent salary and a pension.

But how do you get one?

We followed three people who were looking for stability in what is still a shaky jobs market. They came looking for solid ground at the Sacramento Works Job Center. It’s a standing room crowd that hung on every word from the woman standing front and center—state jobs expert Michelle Allen.

She told the men and women of all ages that when it comes to working for the state, opportunity is knocking louder than anyone thought.

This week there are 3,700 state job openings, and most are in counties right in our own backyard: Sacramento, Placer, Yolo and El Dorado counties.

From custodian to attorney and all jobs in between, we checked. On Monday night there were:

  • 15 openings at the California State Lottery
  • 5 at the state auditor’s office
  • 60 at the Department of Consumer Affairs
  • 58 at the Department of Justice
  • 107 at the DMV
  • 38 at the California Highway Patrol
  • 11 at Folsom State Prison
  • 226 at the Department of Social Services.
  • 65 at the Air Resources Board
  • 45 at the Energy Commission’s office
  • 22 at the Department of Education

So what’s the first step in getting a state job?

It starts with an assessment that’s based on how much you know about the position you’re applying for and your level of experience in areas related to that field. Scoring high on that part is key, as you have to score in the top three rungs to apply for the job.

Information about the different exams can be found at caljobs.ca.gov.

Some tests are offered online, while others are given in person. Some of the sites are nowhere near Sacramento, even though the job might be. That’s when you can give yourself an edge over the competition when a test is being given halfway across the state. The test works the same for the new position, regardless of location.

Those who fought for our country will also have an advantage. Simply passing the test will put them at Rank 1.

Veterans or not, the would-be workers have to be patient. Allen says most who start looking for a state job give up.

“It is a process, because you’ve got to first take the test and tests are sometimes not given immediately, then you gotta wait on those test to hear whether or not you rank and reachable, then you’ve got to start applying,” she said. “People say, ‘Well why should I take a state exam? What’s up with that..why? c’mon,’ and I say you’re asking the wrong question. The real question to ask folks is why are you not taking state exams.”

The bottom line?

“You’ve got to take, pass and place, meaning reachable in ranks 1, 2, or 3, and then you’ve got to apply, apply, apply and it’s like an assembly line,” she said.

But it could be the last assembly line you’ll ever encounter.

Allen recommends taking as many assessments as you’re eligible for.

“Most people don’t realize how many tests they are eligible to take, but they are because they have transferrable skill sets,” she said.

Scoring in the Top 3 tiers of any exam and having experience related to that field may just get you a face-to-face interview.

When you reach that interview, don’t be intimidated by the number of state job supervisors interviewing you. Allen says a team of three or four people could be throwing questions at you.

And how you answer those questions might be different from a private sector interview. When it comes to a question about working extra hours or taking work home:

“The right answer is ‘I would always respect and adhere to the protocol and procedures as established by the agency when dealing with a patient, when dealing with fill in the blank,” Allen said.

A big boost could come from incorporating the word stakeholders into your interview.

“A stakeholder is anybody that’s got a dog in the fight, anybody who has a vested interest in the outcome of whatever that issue is,” Allen said.

Expressing how interested you are in protecting the stakeholders of the agency you’re applying for isn’t a bad thing.

What else isn’t bad is the pay and security from a state job.

The average state worker brings home between $40,000 to $60,000 a year, and could be eligible for a pension if they work at least five years full-time, with a minimum retirement age of 52.

The average new state hire is in their mid-40s, and they’re likely to work well beyond 52 to get more bang from their benefits.

A lot of the testing process to land a state job can be done online, so you won’t have to physically go anywhere. But you do have to stay on top of the process and get on that state jobs list every year. Doing it just once isn’t good enough.

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