Civil Service FAQ's

What is Civil Service?

Civil Service was created based on the merit and fitness system. It eliminated the "spoils system" giving candidates a fair chance obtaining employment through this system. Most area jobs in government service fall under New York State Civil Service system, which is administered in Oneida County by four local agencies: Oneida County, City of Utica, City of Rome and City of Sherrill. Civil Service jobs are available in villages, towns, cities, schools, community colleges, authorities, and county government. A "Civil Service" employee can be anyone from a teacher aide to an auditor, mechanic, or nurse working in the public sector.

Is Civil Service for certain people or can anyone apply?

Oneida County Civil Service has just under 800 titles that are currently used around the area. There are entry-level titles that require minimum education or experience; i.e. Clerk, Correction Officer, Custodian, Data Processor I, Public Safety Telecommunicator, Social Welfare Examiner, etc. There are entry-level titles that require no minimum education or experience; i.e. Cleaner, Food Service Helper, Groundsworker, School Monitor, etc. There are titles that go beyond high school/GED and require a degree; i.e. Accountant, Caseworker, Computer Specialist, Network Administrator, etc. There are titles that require a professional certification and/or licensing; i.e Attorney, Librarian (school and public), Public Health Nurse, Social Worker, etc.

If I pass a Civil Service exam, what employment opportunities are out there?

Depending if the given agency has the title in which you took a Civil Service exam for and are hiring in that title, there are 97 agencies around Oneida County that go through Civil Service for candidates. There are 29 departments within the local government (Aviation, Audit and Control, Board of Elections, Board of Legislators, Budget, Central Services, Child Advocacy Center, County Attorney, County Clerk, County Executive, District Attorney, Emergency Services, Finance, Labor Relations, Mental Health, Motor Vehicles, Naturalization, Office for the Aging, Personnel, Pistol Permits, Planning, Probation, Public Defender (Civil), Public Defender (Criminal), Public Health, Public Works, Purchasing, Sheriff, Social Services, STOP-DWI, Veterans, Water Pollution, Weights and Measures, Workforce Development, and Youth Bureau), 26 towns (Annsville, Augusta, Ava, Boonville, Bridgewater, Camden, Deerfield, Florence, Floyd, Forestport, Kirkland, Lee, Marcy, Marshall, New Hartford, Paris, Remsen, Sangerfield, Steuben, Trenton, Vernon, Verona, Vienna, Western, Westmoreland, and Whitestown), 16 villages (Boonville, Camden, Clayville, Clinton, Holland Patent, New Hartford, New York Mills, Oneida Castle, Oriskany, Oriskany Falls, Remsen, Sylvan Beach, Vernon, Waterville, Whitesboro, and Yorkville), 14 school districts (Adirondack Central, Camden Central, Clinton Central, Holland Patent Central, Madison-Oneida BOCES, New Hartford Central, New York Mills Union Free, Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES, Oriskany Central, Remsen Central, Sauquoit Valley Central, Waterville Central, Westmoreland Central, and Whitesboro Central), 1 college (Mohawk Valley Community College), 6 libraries (C.W. Clark Memorial, Dunham Public, New Hartford Public, New York Mills Public, Oriskany Public, and Waterville Public), and 5 other civil division (Maynard Fire District, Mohawk Valley Water Authority, Oneida County Soil & Water Conservation District, Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority, and Trenton Join Fire District).

What are the benefits working for Oneida County Local Government?

Full time employees would receive health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, retirement plan (New York State Retirement - Pension), educational incentives, public service loan forgiveness program(myfedloan.org/pslf), vacation, sick leave, personal leave, bereavement leave, blood donation leave, cancer screening leave, deferred compensation, and more!

Is every Civil Service title tested?

No. Only titles that fall under the competitive class will be tested. There are three classes or types of positions that do not have exam requirements:

Non-competitive positions have specific education and experience requirements that must be met by the applicant. Employers choose from among the qualified people who apply. Included in the non-competitive class can be a competitive position that is reclassified for a handicapped applicant. (Section 55-a of NYS Civil Service Law)

Labor positions have no requirements. Employers may choose anyone for these jobs. However, they frequently select individuals with the best work record.

Exempt positions are jobs where the employer considers the training and experience of the applicants and chooses the person they want to hire. The process is similar to that found in private industry.

How would I know if I meet the minimum qualifications for a title that I am interested in?

Each job specification, vacancy notice, or examination announcement will have the minimum qualifications listed out on the given document so the candidate will know exactly what is required. This can be based experience, education, or both. Some Civil Service titles do not have minimum qualifications if they fall within the Labor Class.

How do I apply?

If you are interested in an Oneida County position (tested or non-tested), you must complete an Oneida County application, available from our Personnel Department or on the Personnel Department webpage. Depending on the title, there might be additional documents you must submit. I.e. transcripts must be submitted to show proof of education, DBA's for self-employment, etc. If you apply for more than one position, you must complete an application for each position and submit the appropriate documents with each application. The correct Civil Service title and exam number/vacancy must be on the application. The application has to be submitted on or before the last filing date. Applications need to be complete and accurate with the original application must be submitted with a wet signature. Applications with partial information may result in your disqualification from the exam or disapproval from the vacancy. Attaching a resume is not an acceptable alternative for a complete application. Copied, Faxed, E-mailed applications will not be accepted. Lastly, if applying for an examination, a money order (amount on examination announcement) payable to Oneida County to be submitted with your application. If you are unemployed or have government assistance, you can apply for a fee waiver. Vacancies do not require an application fee. Oneida County Department of Personnel is always available for any questions if you're unsure what to submit, 315-798-5726.

What happens after I apply for the exam(s)?

Applications will be reviewed after the last filing date. If a candidate was disapproved, they will be sent a disapproval letter with a one-time opportunity to amend their application. Those who are approved will be sent an admission letter about a week before the scheduled examination date stating when and where the examination will take place.

Is there a way to study for any Civil Service exam?

Some of the titles have a study guide that a candidate can review. These study guides can be found at: https://www.cs.ny.gov/testing/testguides.cfm . Even if a study guide for your title is not listed, there are general study guides, "General Guide to Written Test" and "How to Take a Written Exam", that are very informational if a person has never taken a Civil Service exam before.

If there is no study guide, how would I know what would be on the exam?

On page two of every examination announcement, it will show the subjects that will be on the exam. These subjects will produce only provide general questions of the topic. Detailed or specific questions will not be asked. As each agency is different, questions should be answered on a general knowledge mindset and not based towards a certain position a person may currently be in.

How would I know if I passed or failed my exam?

State scored examinations take about 2 to 4 months to be processed. Decentralized/conitious recruitment examinations (local level) take about 2 to 4 weeks. On our website or examination wall in the personnel department, it will always show the examinations that are considered decentralized since they are given twice a year and always open to apply for. When the Department of Personnel receives the results, they will establish an eligible list based on the scores of the candidates who took the examination.

Candidates who received a 70 and above will be placed on the list based off of score and will receive a letter in the mail with their score and position on the list. Candidates who score below a 70 will receive a letter stating that they will not be placed on the eligible list.

When I am on the eligible list, what happens next?

When agencies need to hire for a certain title, they would request the list from Oneida County Civil Service. Based off of the discretion of the department, a canvass letter may or may not be sent out. Canvass letters would include general detail of the position that is looking to be filled; title, salary, location, type of position, etc. The candidate will have the opportunity to state whether or not they are interested in the position. If they are not interested, there are options a person can check on why they are not interested; i.e salary, location, temporary unavailable, etc. Some declinations may result in making a candidate's name inactive based off of the answer. Canvass letters will help our department know what qualifications you are looking for so, for example, if you say no to a salary of $20,000, we will not canvass you for any other positions $20,000 or less. Canvass letters, like every other documentation, will have a deadline that a response will be due to Oneida County Civil Service by. After canvassing/going straight to the list, Oneida County Civil Service will issue the agency the top 3 candidates based on score (or who are interested, if canvassed) that they will be able to select from for appointment.

What if I scored low? Does this hinder my chances of employment?

As being placed on the eligible list does not guarantee employment, depending on the demand for the title, candidates who scored a 70 can eventually be reachable. Especially after canvassing, some of the higher scores may not be interested in a position, possibly making the lower scores reachable if they are interested in that position. As candidates become appointed or inactive on the list, the remaining candidates will move higher up the list.

How long does my name stay on the list?

For State scored examinations, a candidate's eligibility is good for 1 to 4 years based off of establishment of the next exam given for the title or the expiration of the eligible list. Once a new exam list is established, the previous exam list will expire. New examinations will be ordered based on the number of candidates left on the list. For continuous recruitment decentralized examinations, a candidate's eligibility is good for only 1 year. Our continuous recruitment titles are more popularly used around Oneida County.

Is there a way to be hired before the examination pending my results?

It is essentially a temporary appointment with qualifications that a candidate will need to fulfill in order to be hired permanent. The candidate must take the examination when it is issued to the public, pass and be reachable, as if they already took the examination in order to keep their position. The agency will have 60 days from the establishment of the list for their provisional to be reachable to appoint them permanent. Otherwise, they will have to be terminated from the title. So naturally there is some risk involved.

What if I am a provisional and I fail my examination?

As stated above, the agency/department has 60 days from the establishment of the list for their provisional to be reachable to appointment them permanent. Since a failing score will not make a person reachable, the list will have to be non-mandatory in order for the department to determine if they want to grant the person to a 2nd provisional appointment to give them another chance.

What are the benefits of being appointed off of the list?

The biggest one, if one passes probation in their competitive title, the employee will obtain Section 75 rights through Civil Service Law. This helps grant extra job security on your position. An employee cannot be terminated "at-will" like one can in the private sector. This does not mean that an employee cannot be terminated at all because it can be possible if the employee is not doing their job after written warnings, breaking the law, etc. A non-competitive and labor class title will have to have 5 years of continuous service in order to obtain the same rights. If a layoff was to happen, the agency/department cannot just select who they want to layoff. A standard seniority system will be administered by Oneida County Civil Service to determine who does. If one does get laid-off, the employee will be placed on a preferred list for 4 years and if the agency/department has enough budget to bring back the position, they must appoint from this list. Civil Service Law also gives extra security to those who are veterans, a spouse of a 100% disabled veteran, blind, or an exempt volunteer firefighter in the event that a reduction in force, disciplinary action, promotion, etc. was to take place.

Civil Service wants to give back to those who served our country. With proof of a copy of their veteran's DD-214 form attached to their application, a non-disabled veteran will be able to obtain 5 additional points added to their score. If a veteran unfortunately became disabled during service, they can attach a copy of their veteran's DD-214 and a copy of their disability letter from the Division of Veteran's Affairs with their application to obtain 10 additional points added to their score. A veteran can only use their points one time to obtain employment. If a veteran is immediately reachable (in the top 3) and does not need the additional points to remain in the top 3, they can withdraw their credits and use them for another examination. Points will not be able to be added if a candidate fails their examination.

Questions? Contact: personnel@ocgov.net