My Joblists
My Joblists
Sign Up
Blog/Guides/How to Apply for Government Jobs in New York City and Get Hired

How to Apply for Government Jobs in New York City and Get Hired

Article index


  • Learn how to write a government cover letter and resume
  • Prepare for a job interview by reviewing the top FAQ
  • Find government jobs in New York City more easily with Joblist


Living and working in the Big Apple is a dream for many people. New York City is the largest metropolitan area in the United States. It’s home to over 8 million people spread across five boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Thousands of government jobs can be found among the many employment opportunities in NYC.

Government positions are an excellent way to secure stable income and benefits, like health insurance and pensions. The city also offers competitive salaries. We’ve created the following guide to help New Yorkers — and those who dream of becoming one — understand the types of government jobs available. We’ve also included tips for finding and applying to NYC job openings, writing a resume, and navigating the interview process.

Government Jobs in New York City

City employees at more than 60 government agencies work together to serve millions of residents and visitors every day in NYC. The city’s 325,000 employees provide important social services, improve infrastructure, and support their communities throughout the five boroughs. When you work for the city, you’re a part of the largest municipal government in the United States. This entity includes jobs in the following career fields:

  • Administration and human resources
  • Building operations and maintenance
  • Communications and intergovernmental affairs
  • Constituent services and community programs
  • Engineering, architecture, and planning
  • Finance, accounting, and procurement
  • Legal affairs
  • Mental health
  • Policy, research, and analysis
  • Public health
  • Public Safety, inspections, and enforcement
  • Social services
  • Technology, data, and innovation
  • Transportation

The Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Health, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) are some examples of the most popular agencies to work for in New York City. These agencies and many others often have full-time and part-time positions available. The federal government, including the United States Postal Services (USPS), has job opportunities based in NYC, too.

How to Apply for and Get a Government Job in NYC

Civil service law governs the application process for 80% of local city government jobs. Under the law, job candidates must take and pass an exam to be considered for an open position. These exams test your skills and abilities to see if you’re able to do the job. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) administers exams to civil service candidates. Standardized tests are used to ensure the hiring process is competitive and fair.

Follow these steps to apply for and get a government job in NYC:

  • Review the exam schedule. The DCAS posts the exam list every July and updates it monthly. Find out what type of exams are available, plus where and when you can take one.
  • Apply to take an exam. To qualify to take an exam, you must meet basic criteria and pay a fee.
  • Take the exam. The DCAS has most exams available online. You can also take the test in person at any DCAS testing center, which are located in all five boroughs.
  • Receive your exam results. The usual processing time for exam results is nine to 12 months. The DCAS will release your test scores onto an online dashboard for you to review and publicly post a list of all who passed the exam, ranked from best to worst. They’ll also mail a hard copy of the official results to you.
  • Wait for an interview call. If you passed the exam, the hiring city agency will contact you for an interview. If you pass this last step, you’ll receive a job offer.

Finding Government Jobs in NYC

With so many different career opportunities to sort through and consider, looking for government jobs in NYC can start to feel overwhelming. Joblist makes your search for a government job easier than ever before. We help you find the right job by offering a personalized job search experience. You can quickly create a unique job search profile on Joblist. We then match your particular interests and skill set to the top jobs in your preferred location. Our automated processes help cut down on the time and effort it takes to find your next job.

Preparing Your Government Job Resume

Unlike a resume for a job in the private sector, a government resume should provide as many details as necessary to explain your experience and qualifications for the job. You’re also allowed to break the one-page resume rule and use as many pages as needed. Federal resumes are often four to six pages long, but don’t feel like you need to add filler text to extend your resume’s length. Keep all information relevant to the job position and don’t bother providing references at this point in the hiring process.

Some resumes will be scanned by a computer before a hiring manager sees them to make sure they contain certain keywords. This process narrows down the pool of applicants. In a job posting, you’ll find important keywords to include on your resume. Use words from the job description and the list of requirements for experience, education, and skills. Tailoring your resume to each job posting also helps you hit the right keywords every time.

Government Job Cover Letters

A cover letter is a way for you to introduce yourself to hiring committees before they look at your resume. It provides you with another opportunity to prove that you’re a professional who’s qualified for the job. A government cover letter should be well-written, straightforward, and include:

  • A header. Like a traditional letter, the header begins with your name and contact information so the reader knows who it’s from. The header also includes the date and the recipient’s contact information.
  • An introduction. You’ll want to address the letter to the person or department in charge of hiring for the position, such as a hiring agent or human resources (HR) manager.
  • Your professional experience. Use a few lines of the letter to highlight your most relevant qualifications for the job.
  • A conclusion. End the letter with a grateful conclusion that thanks the person for their time. You can also express your level of interest in the position.

Before you write your cover letter, it’s a good idea to research the agency and reread the job description. This will help you to better know your audience and the information you need to include. Keep the cover letter specific and brief — it’s OK to get right to the point in a polite way. Also, remember to proofread multiple times for errors. You only get one chance to make the best first impression.

Applying to Government Jobs

Many people want to work for the government because these positions offer long-term job security and excellent benefits. Government workers are guaranteed to have insurance, paid time off, and many other perks. It may take longer to find, apply for, and secure a government job that’s right for you, but it’s all worth it in the end.

Government positions have very specific standards for those who are looking to apply. Make sure you meet all eligibility and qualification requirements before applying. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time because you won’t pass the resume part of the application process.

Apply immediately and carefully when you find a job that you qualify for because there’s going to be a lot of competition. Tailor your resume for the job posting, gather other required documents, and submit the entire application to the hiring agency. Depending on the agency to which you’re applying, you may be asked to provide more personal information and additional documentation with your resume. You might also have to answer eligibility questions, complete an occupational questionnaire, or take a civil service exam.

The Government Job Interview Process

When applying for a government job, a hiring manager determines your eligibility to apply and then addresses your qualifications. If they decide that you’re an ideal candidate, they will schedule an interview with you. The interview process can sometimes take longer in the government arena than it would in the private sector. Sometimes, you may be required to interview more than once or with more than one person.

Government interviews typically take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. They can be conducted in person, by video, or on the phone. Take some time to review and prepare answers to the most common interview questions, such as:

  • Are you comfortable with the responsibilities of this job?
  • What are your biggest strengths?
  • What are your greatest weaknesses?
  • What skills do you have that you can apply to this job?
  • What were your main responsibilities at your last job?
  • What will be the most challenging part of this job for you?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Why are you interested in a career with the NYC government?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • Why do you want to work for this agency?

Unlike private business interviews, government interviews are structured by federal laws to ensure fairness. All applicants will be asked the same questions in the same order, and all questions should only be job-related. The next step after the interview is for the hiring manager to contact your references. If the interview went well and your references check out, then you’ll likely receive a job offer from the agency shortly thereafter.

Discover Top Government Jobs in NYC on Joblist

The NYC government is always looking for talented people who want to make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers. City agencies offer many opportunities for those looking to serve and improve NYC communities. Many job seekers are turning to Joblist to discover curated job openings based on their skills, experience, and location preferences. Explore top government jobs, career advice, and more on Joblist today.

Related Articles


How Job-Seekers Are Finding New Opportunities During a Pandemic