Archived - PSC Guidance for Employment Offers at Recruitment Events



 

This document was amended in September 2015 to remove the statement that advertised appointments should be the standard practice. More information will follow, along with the results of the PSC's comprehensive policy review.

Purpose

This guidance document aims to assist organizations in the context of recruitment, through career fairs and other recruitment events, now and in the future. The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to organizations in making appropriate appointment decisions regarding employment offers.

Context

Recruitment events enable organizations to meet a large number of candidates in a relatively short period of time. Recruitment events help maximize organizations' exposure to candidates, so they provide an excellent opportunity to address current and future human resources (HR) needs.

In a typical recruitment process, employment offers are made when candidates have been completely assessed and the right fit selection has occurred. However, it is possible that an organization, through their HR planning and research, may proceed with an employment offer when it:

  • recognizes a candidate who possesses a particular skill, ability, academic specialization, or experience or a combination thereof, which is exceptional or rare;
  • recruits for certain types of positions that have historically proven either difficult to staff, have a high turnover or where it has proven difficult to find qualified candidates with a combination of qualifications for the right fit selection.

In these cases, the organization may be ready to provide an employment offer to these exceptional candidates earlier in the recruitment process. This guidance document is intended to help the organization recognize if and when it may be appropriate to extend an employment offer earlier in the recruitment process.

Core and Guiding Values in the Context of Recruitment Events

Whether the employment offer is made earlier or at the end of the recruitment process, it is important that the organizations' appointment decisions respect the framework provided by the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), the policies of the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the core and guiding values.

The PSC expects that these values and the organization's HR planning and research will lead managers to use advertised appointment processes more often than non-advertised appointment processes, making advertised appointment processes standard practice.

To assist you in determining whether your appointment decisions respect the values, Annex A defines the values in the context of a recruitment event and a list of relevant questions is presented for your consideration.

Human Resources Planning and Research

HR planning and research are necessary to identify your organizational current and future HR needs. They also assist in the development of sound recruitment strategies. Consequently, the more HR planning and research you do beforehand, the more effective its execution will be.

Specifically, HR planning and research provide information upon which subsequent appointment decisions can be made. Some questions you may consider when reviewing your HR plan and previous processes in preparation for a recruitment event could be:

  • Have you determined how you will respect the need to consider and assess persons with priority entitlement for appointment ahead of all other persons, including persons you meet at a recruitment event? Have you considered contacting the PSC a few weeks prior to a recruitment event to request priority clearance?
  • Have you identified any skill, ability, academic specialization, relevant experience or other criteria that is hard to find or rare that will help you determine when you have encountered an exceptional candidate or right fit for your position(s)? Are these reflected in your Statement of Merit Criteria (SOMC)?
  • Have you established the number of available positions for each recruitment event?
  • Have you identified the groups and levels of the positions you have to offer?
  • Have you identified any under-representation or gaps in your organizational employment equity (EE) plan or HR plan?
  • Have you determined if your work location is difficult to staff because of its geographical location, such as positions in remote locations?
  • Have you analyzed previous processes?
  • Have you reviewed your SOMC to determine whether it should be updated, such as modifying the bring/learn ratio, to make the next process more productive?
  • Do you know where your potential labour market is located?
  • Are any of the academic specializations, skills or experience in high demand?
  • Have you considered referrals from the current Post Secondary Recruitment (PSR) General Inventory to determine whether there are existing suitable partially assessed candidates?

National Area of Selection

Due to the December 2008 implementation of National Area of Selection (NAOS) for all public service jobs advertised to the public, the PSC expects that all processes that will not be completed before that date will have a NAOS.

Therefore, a necessary part of your HR planning will be determining how your process will respect this requirement. Considering all applicants who applied to an external advertised process, when advertising nationally through jobs.gc.ca or the PSR Web site, would respect the NAOS. A recruitment process would not respect NAOS if the organization restricts access to students or alumni of a particular post-secondary institution and does not consider other candidates.

Advertised or Non-Advertised Process

For a process to be considered advertised, it must meet the requirements of the PSC Appointment Policy:

  • be advertised on or through www.jobs.gc.ca, and on Infotel or an alternate telephone service provider;
  • inform persons in the area of selection of the appointment opportunity so that they have a reasonable opportunity to apply; and
  • provide persons with an opportunity to demonstrate their suitability against the merit criteria.

An appointment will be deemed advertised if it is consistent with the information provided in the advertisement.

Appointments from processes that do not respect these requirements would be considered non-advertised appointments. The PSC requires that a written rationale demonstrate how a non-advertised process meets your organization's Criteria for Non-Advertised Appointment Processes and the values.

Assessment

Effective HR planning, including a strong understanding of the position requirements, will help you determine the optimal order in which to assess the different merit criteria.  Completing as much assessment of the merit criteria as possible prior to extending an employment offer will result in a conditional offer that has fewer conditions to be met later. 

When assessing candidates at recruitment events, there are several things to consider:

  • Merit criteria may be assessed in any order.
  • As much assessment as possible should be conducted prior to extending the conditional offer. This will lessen the number of conditions attached to the offer, and make it more attractive to the candidate. Keep in mind that tests and interviews may be held during or after the recruitment event. It could also be useful to ask candidates to bring copies of pertinent documents with them to the recruitment event (e.g. curriculum vitae, transcripts and references, proof of citizenship).
  • Candidates must be assessed with as much rigour as candidates in any other processes.
  • Candidates have the right to be assessed in their official language of choice, regardless of language of the position, language of the region (unilingual or bilingual) or location of the recruitment event.

You could take the time to confer with your colleagues to agree to whom an employment offer should be made, such as when you have encountered an exceptional candidate. As a result, you may be prepared to extend an employment offer earlier in the process, including an offer that could contain only a few conditions.

Statutory Preference for Canadian Citizens

The PSEA requires that, in external advertised appointment processes, public service employment be first offered to Canadian citizens who meet the essential qualifications of the position. The PSC expects that conditional employment offers be given only to Canadian citizens at recruitment events. For this reason, be sure to verify Canadian citizenship before making an employment offer and document your file accordingly.

Employment Offers "on-the-spot"

One important aspect of recruitment events is the opportunity to extend "on-the-spot" employment offers to candidates who meet your exceptional requirement(s). This flexibility is designed to help address the concern that public service recruitment is too slow, and risks losing some of the best candidates.

Just like traditional offers, "on-the-spot" employment offers must respect the framework provided by the PSEA, the policies of the PSC and your organization and the core and guiding values.

The more complete and detailed your HR planning and research, the greater benefit you should realize from participating in recruitment events, and the greater confidence you will have when extending an "on-the-spot" employment offer.

"On-the-spot" employment offers:

  • depend largely on the organization's planning and research that will enable the organization to explain its decision; and
  • apply to external appointment processes only, whether advertised or non-advertised; the notification requirements for internal processes under Section 48 of the PSEA require that assessment be complete before notification can be issued.

What is an "on-the-spot" employment offer?

An "on-the-spot" employment offer is an offer that is provided quickly and directly to a candidate as soon as it is established that the candidate meets - or will meet, in the near future - all the merit criteria which were identified for that appointment. As with any other employment offer, an "on-the-spot" employment offer must be made in writing and must be signed by a duly sub-delegated person.

"On-the-spot" employment offers will likely be a conditional offer. It is a conditional offer when:

  • priority clearance has not yet been obtained;
  • the assessment of the person is not complete (results of standardized tests, interviews, other assessment, reference checks, language results, etc.);
  • the candidate is in the process of completing their university degree, academic specialization or occupational certification; or
  • the candidate has not yet met the necessary conditions of employment, such as security/reliability level of the position or occupational health evaluations/assessments.

A conditional offer must stipulate which conditions the candidate must satisfy – and the length of time allowed for the candidate to meet them – in order for the appointment to take effect. The letter must also remind the candidate that the offer becomes null and void if the conditions are not met within the prescribed time period. A conditional offer is just as binding for the organization as a non-conditional offer.

"On-the-spot" employment offers are most suitable when:

  • an organization has more positions to fill than the number of potentially qualified external candidates;
  • there has been as much preliminary screening or assessment of the merit criteria as possible;
  • the organizational needs identified in the HR or EE plan, such as under-representation, are addressed; or
  • the organization is moving quickly to hire exceptional candidates in a competitive marketplace.

When to wait until assessment of the merit criteria used for a particular appointment is complete before making an employment offer?

In general, not all situations at a recruitment event will be appropriate for extending an "on-the-spot" employment offer. It would not be appropriate when:

  • it will take such a significant amount of time to meet the conditions indicated in a conditional letter of offer that there is a risk of intervening factors, such as budgetary constraints or organizational restructuring;
  • the number of vacant positions is not known; or
  • the appointment process is internal.

A traditional employment offer may be a better approach when:

  • the organization's HR planning and research have not identified the criteria for determining an exceptional candidate;
  • the positions are relatively easy to staff;
  • the organization has fewer positions to staff than the anticipated number of qualified candidates;
  • arrangements to conduct assessment preceding the event or on-site have not been made;
  • there would be many conditions associated with an "on-the-spot" offer;
  • it would take a long time for the candidate to meet the conditions of an "on-the-spot" offer; and/or
  • the organization anticipates there may be many individuals with priority status who could be qualified for these positions.

Following are some scenarios when "on-the-spot" employment offers may be appropriate at recruitment events, and whether they would be considered advertised or non-advertised, given the context.

It is expected that all decisions within each scenario respect the relevant policies and legislation.

Scenario 1: General (www.jobs.gc.ca)

Context:

An organization advertises a number of job opportunities through www.jobs.gc.ca, including:

  • a full statement of merit criteria;
  • information about how the process will proceed;
  • area of selection is national; and
  • the closing date is two weeks in advance of a planned recruitment event.

Candidates who apply on-line are:

  • pre-screened;
  • invited to participate in the recruitment event;
  • assessed on the day of, or shortly after, the recruitment event if they attend in person; and
  • informed that those unable to attend the recruitment event will be considered at a later date.

The organization has conducted its HR planning and research and knows:

  • which positions are very difficult to staff or have high turnover;
  • which positions require specialized skills, experience or academic specialization or a combination of specializations that are hard to find; and
  • that, historically, there have been more vacant positions than the number of qualified candidates.

Is it Appropriate to Extend an "On-the-Spot" Employment Offer?

Yes, if...

  • the organization needs to move quickly to hire exceptional candidates in a competitive marketplace; and
  • the sub-delegated person extending the offer is confident that the exceptional candidate meets, or will meet, in the near future, all of the merit criteria that has been applied to that appointment; and
  • the organization knows that it can appoint all persons in the area of selection who meet the merit criteria.

Is the Appointment a Result of an Advertised or Non-Advertised Process?

Advertised Process:

The appointment is the result of an advertised process if:

  • all candidates within the area of selection who applied before the closing date were or will be considered; and
  • all said candidates were or will be provided with the opportunity to demonstrate their suitability for the positions; and
  • the appointment is consistent with what was advertised.

Non-Advertised Process:

The appointment is the result of a non-advertised process when the organization extends an offer to a candidate without considering others within the process, or appoints a person who did not apply to the process when it was advertised.

The organization must ensure that the non-advertised appointment respects the organization's Criteria for Non-Advertised Appointment Processes, and is consistent with the values.

Scenario 2: Existing Post-Secondary Recruitment General Inventory

Context:

  • The hiring organization requests referrals from the existing Post-Secondary Recruitment (PSR) General Inventory; referrals are based on screening criteria, such as:
    • education; or
    • test results (Situational Judgement Test, Written Communication Proficiency Test, Graduate Recruitment Test).
  • Candidates are contacted to determine their employment interest. Once interest is confirmed, an interview may be scheduled. The manager could take advantage of an upcoming recruitment event to hold the interview.

Is it Appropriate to Extend an "On-the-Spot" Employment Offer?

Yes, if...

  • the organization needs to move quickly to hire exceptional candidates in a competitive marketplace;
  • the sub-delegated person extending the offer is confident that the exceptional candidate meets, or will meet, in the near future, all of the merit criteria that has been applied to that appointment; and
  • the organization knows that it can appoint all persons in the area of selection who meet the merit criteria.

Is the Appointment a Result of an Advertised or Non-Advertised Process?

Advertised Process:

The appointment is the result of an advertised process if:

  • all candidates within the area of selection who applied before the closing date were or will be considered; and
  • all said candidates were or will be provided with the opportunity to demonstrate their suitability for the positions; and
  • the appointment is consistent with what was advertised.

Non-Advertised Process:

The appointment is the result of a non-advertised process if the organization:

  • considers only students or alumni from the post-secondary institution participating in the recruitment event, without giving consideration to the other referred candidates from the PSR general inventory. This approach would not respect access and NAOS;
  • appoints a person who was not referred from the PSR general inventory; or
  • extends an "on-the-spot" employment offer that was not consistent with what was advertised.

The organization must ensure that the non-advertised appointment respects the organization's Criteria for Non-Advertised Appointment Processes, and is consistent with the values.

Scenario 3: Jobs/Career Choices Advertised Through the Fall Post-Secondary Recruitment Campaign

Context:

Organizations can advertise for tested or non-tested career choices:

  • Tested Career choices: Organizations have confirmed their participation by mid-August of the current year in order to be prepared for the fall launch. Career Choices are posted on www.jobs.gc.ca for approximately three weeks to a month, beginning sometime in the fall.
  • Non-tested career choices: Organizations post career choices at any point throughout the year, although they are encouraged to align with campaign dates to leverage on-site career presence and known PSR brand.
  • Referrals through the Public Service Resourcing System (PSRS) will not usually be made to hiring organizations for the tested career choices until December or January at the earliest, as testing does not usually take place until end of October or early November.
  • Candidates who apply on-line to the Jobs/Career Choices campaign can be:
  • pre-screened, partially or fully assessed at the recruitment event;
  • in this case, some of the assessment occurs before the organization knows whether the candidate has successfully passed the standardized tests for PSR.
  • Assessment occurs at a later date for those candidates who have applied to the Jobs/Career Choices campaign but are unable to attend the recruitment event.

Is it Appropriate to Extend an "On-the-Spot" Employment Offer?

Yes, if...

  • the organization needs to move quickly to hire exceptional candidates in a competitive marketplace;
  • the sub-delegated person extending the offer is confident that the exceptional candidate meets, or will meet, in the near future, all of the merit criteria that has been applied to that appointment; and
  • the organization knows that it can appoint all persons in the area of selection who meet the merit criteria.

Is the Appointment a Result of an Advertised or Non-Advertised Process?

Advertised Process:

The appointment is the result of an advertised process if:

  • all candidates within the area of selection who applied before the closing date were or will be considered; and
  • were or will be provided with the opportunity to demonstrate their suitability for the positions; and
  • the appointment is consistent with what was advertised.

Non-Advertised Process:

The appointment is the result of a non-advertised process if the organization:

  • considers only students or alumni from the post-secondary institution participating in the recruitment event, without giving consideration to the other referred candidates from the PSR Career Choice. This approach would not respect access and NAOS;
  • appoints a person who was not referred from the PSR Career Choice; or
  • extends an "on-the-spot" employment offer that was not consistent with what was advertised.

The organization must ensure that the non-advertised appointment respects the organization's Criteria for Non-Advertised Appointment Processes, and is consistent with the values.

Statutory and Policy Requirements

The following are some of the relevant statutory and policy requirements that must be respected in order to safeguard merit.

The Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) requires that

…appointments be made on the basis of merit, including official language proficiency (PSEA subsection 30 - Appointment on basis of merit).

…preference for veterans and Canadian citizens be respected for advertised external appointment processes (PSEA subsection 39).

The Public Service Commission Appointment Framework requires that

…advertised external job postings appear on the www.jobs.gc.ca Web site as well as Infotel or an alternative telephone service provider (Advertising in the Appointment Process).

…priority entitlements be applied before another appointment process is decided upon and that priorities be appointed ahead of all others, if they meet the essential qualifications (including official language proficiency) and conditions of employment (Policy on Choice of Appointment Process and Guide on Priority Administration Part 1.9.5 (Note) Assessment of Priority Persons).

…the NAOS be respected, that is, the sub-delegated manager or HR specialist must consider applicants who are willing to relocate to the job location and who are in the area of selection for these positions (PSC Area of Selection Policy and the National Area of Selection Implementation: Questions and Answers).

…the needs of persons through all stages of the appointment process be accommodated (PSC Policy on Employment Equity in the Appointment Process and the joint Treasury Board and PSC Policy on the Duty to Accommodate Persons with Disabilities in the Federal Public Service).

…"on-the-spot" offers are signed by a person who has the proper sub-delegated appointment authority (Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument).

…the choice of appointment process be consistent with the organization's HR plan and comply with the hiring organization's Criteria for Use of Non-Advertised Appointment Processes (Assessing Merit; Assessment and Selection and PSC Appointment Policy - General - Values).

…appointments from an external appointment process not normally be effective before the assessment of all merit criteria that has been applied to that appointment is complete for all persons considered in that process. Exceptions to this might be appropriate in advertised appointment processes where the organization knows that it can appoint all persons in the area of selection who meet the merit criteria (Selection and Appointment Policy Considerations).

…"right fit" selection be based on merit criteria advertised in the statement of merit criteria.

Political Activities

The PSEA permits an employee to engage in any political activity so long as it does not impair, or is not perceived as impairing, the employee's ability to perform his or her duties in a politically impartial manner (PSEA Section 113 (1)).

For additional information, the PSC has a Guidance Document for Federal employees' involvement in political activities.

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat policy

How the Public Service Commission can help you

The Public Service Commission can provide:

  • guidance to managers and HR professionals about this hiring practice;
  • resources such as customized assessment tools; and
  • advice to departments and agencies on completing the process.

Contact the PSC regional office nearest you for specific questions related to a process where services are provided by the Staffing Assessment and Services Branch.

For general information, contact the Staffing Support Advisor responsible for your organization.

Annex A: Core and Guiding Values in the Context of Recruitment Events

Each value is defined and questions relevant to that value in the context of a recruitment event are presented for your consideration. The questions are not exhaustive.

Merit: The person appointed meets the essential qualifications for the work to be performed, including official language proficiency. In addition, the person appointed meets any asset qualifications, operational requirements and/or organizational needs that may be identified by the manager.

  • Does the Statement of Merit Criteria (SOMC) reflect the appropriate merit criteria for the position(s) being staffed?
  • Does the SOMC reflect the criteria that will help you recognize when you have met a candidate who possesses your exceptional requirements?
  • Does the SOMC help you to determine your right fit selection?

Non-partisanship: Appointments and promotions to the public service are made free from political influence. Employees have the right to engage in political activities, while maintaining the principle of political impartiality in the public service.

  • Does the assessment for merit or consideration for appointment respect the right of a candidate to engage in political activities within a politically impartial public service?
  • Is the assessment of merit free from any political influence?
  • When making an offer, are candidates informed of their rights and responsibilities regarding political activities?

Fairness: Decisions are made objectively and free from political influence or personal favouritism; policies and practices reflect the just treatment of persons. Persons have the right to be assessed in the official language(s) of their choice in an appointment process.

  • Have you developed your criteria for identifying an exceptional candidate in advance of the recruitment event?
  • How will you assess the candidate in their official language of choice?
  • When the related field of study requires the use of specialized terminology, will you still be able to assess them in their language of choice?
  • How is this staffing strategy fair to candidates from universities not participating in the recruitment event?

Transparency: Information about strategies, decisions, policies and practices is communicated in an open and timely manner.

  • Are your advertisements for the recruitment event developed and posted in accordance with the PSC Policy on Advertising in the Appointment Process?
  • Have you provided sufficient information for the applicant to make an informed decision and have you allowed sufficient time for persons to apply?
  • Have you allowed for sufficient time to answer questions from candidates at the recruitment event about the appointment process? Have you anticipated what their questions are likely to be? Remember, this may be their first experience with a public service hiring process.
  • Have you avoided the use of acronyms or jargon in all your materials?

Access: Persons from across the country have a reasonable opportunity to apply, to do so in the official language(s) of their choice and to be considered for public service employment.

  • Is the sponsoring educational institution limiting access to their own or only participating post-secondary institutions' students or alumni? (This would be contrary to the value of access and may also contravene the requirement to use a national area of selection [NAOS].)
  • What measures are you taking to ensure access for candidates who do not participate in a particular career fair but are interested in your positions?
  • Does your advertisement, including any handouts or pamphlets, respect the PSC's Advertising in the Appointment Process Policy and Official Languages in the Appointment Process Policy?
  • Are you ready to accommodate the needs of candidates through all stages of the appointment process?

Representativeness: Appointment processes are conducted without bias and do not create systematic barriers to help achieve a public service that reflects the Canadian population it serves.

  • Does your organization have representation gaps that can be addressed through recruitment initiatives like career fairs?
  • Will your assessment tools and approaches provide a sound basis for making appointments according to merit?  Do they create systemic barriers to employment?
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