County of Sonoma, California
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Hiring Process Overview

As a potential applicant, you will be participating in a process which endeavors to obtain the most qualified candidates for employment. The employment process consists of various examinations to evaluate and test fairly and objectively each applicant’s education, experience, skills, knowledge and abilities for the position.

General Employment Process Steps

  1. How to Apply and the Application Process

    Each applicant is responsible for submitting an official Sonoma County employment application form with any supportive data by the date stated on this announcement. Applications received after the posted final filing date will not be accepted. Carefully and completely filling out the application will improve chances in the employment process. Applicants should be sure to indicate dates of employment and thoroughly describe duties for each relevant position. Initial evaluation of qualifications will be based solely on the application and relevant supporting materials submitted by the applicant.

    Applying via the County of Sonoma’s online application system is the preferred method and has many advantages, such as:

    • Storing previous applications,
    • The ability to copy application information to a recruitment,
    • The ability to manage address and contact number changes,
    • The ability to view notices,
    • The ability to view the status of the application for specific recruitments, and
    • The ability to receive automatic notification of a recruitment for a particular position by signing up for job interest cards.

    Applicants may submit paper applications, responses to the supplemental questionnaire, and other relevant supporting documents in lieu of the online application, directly to Human Resources. If an applicant needs a paper application, they should contact Human Resources at 707-565-2331. Applicants should not submit their only copy of paper documents, as they will not be returned and copies will not made. Résumés may be submitted but are not acceptable as substitutes for any part of the standard or supplemental application forms. The application and all related papers and materials developed by reference checks and/or background investigation are the property of the Sonoma County and such information will not be made available to candidates.

    Supplemental Questions

    Supplemental questions are a critical component of completing the application for every recruitment conducted. These questions are typically found on the “supplemental questions” tab of the online job announcement, and are step 3 of the online application process. Supplemental questions are designed to get at the heart of the applicant’s core qualifications by asking training and experience related questions that are specific to the position for which the recruitment is being conducted. The responses applicants provide to these questions are evaluated by Human Resources to determine if applicants meet the knowledge and abilities/minimum qualifications for the position. The knowledge and abilities and minimum qualifications for the position are detailed in the job announcement. If an Application Appraisal is part of the examination process for a particular recruitment, subject matter experts will review applicants’ responses to supplemental questions and rate them, using position specific criteria, to score each applicant’s response to each question. The Application Appraisal is a formal examination step; therefore, applicants are advised to consider completing the application an examination in and of itself.

    Because the supplemental questions are evaluated for possession of the appropriate qualifications and may be scored in the application evaluation process, it is critical that applicants provide specific and detailed responses to each question. For instance, applicants should be specific about degrees received and units completed, and/or certifications and/or licenses in their responses to questions regarding education. In their responses to questions regarding work experience, applicants should list every position that is relevant to the position for which they are applying, the duties they performed, and the dates employed. The key is for applicants to describe their experience and/or education fully, ensuring that responses reflect the scope of their experience, and that the information provided is ample enough to determine their qualifications. Applicants are advised to develop responses in a word processing program that has a spell checker, then copy and paste their responses into the online application.

  2. Examination Steps

    All applications are carefully and thoroughly evaluated for appropriate education, training, experience, skills, knowledge, abilities and other personal qualifications which directly relate to the duties of this position. Successful candidates in this first evaluation step, often called the Application Appraisal, will be notified of subsequent examinations, such as multiple-choice written, oral interview, work performance simulation, or other examinations appropriate to the duties of this position, as described by the advertised job announcement. The final step of the examination process is the establishment of the employment list, which places the job candidates in a “rank,” (i.e. 1, 2, 3 etc.) according to their total exam scores. Invitation and admission to an examination does not guarantee placement on the employment list. Only candidates who pass the examination process will be placed on employment lists.

    If requested on the application, reasonable accommodation can be made for disabled individuals. Candidates should provide supporting documentation of the need for accommodation prior to the examination date.

  3. Employment List

    An employment list, is established after the examination is completed. The list contains the names of all applicants who have received a passing score ranked from highest to lowest score. A candidate’s placement/position on the list is referred to as their standing or rank. Typically, names of the top three to five standings/ranks are referred (sent to) the hiring department(s). There could be ties in one or more of the standings/ranks if more than one candidate achieves the same final score. Veteran and Promotional points are added to the candidates final examination score. Departments typically schedule interviews once they receive the list of names.

    The employment list that is established from the completion of a recruitment is valid for a minimum of three months, but can be extended to a maximum of two years. An employment list is abolished or superseded by lists that are established through subsequent recruitments, and individuals on previous lists must reapply to the new recruitment in order to compete for placement on the new list.

  4. Promotional Examination

    Promotional exams are limited to current probationary and permanent employees of the County of Sonoma, the Sonoma County Fair and Exposition, the Sonoma County’s Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, the Sonoma County Water Agency, and the Community Development Commission. Non-County employees who apply for promotional examinations are automatically disqualified.

  5. Veteran’s Preference Points

    Veterans who have served more than six months of consecutive active service in the armed forces of the United States of America may have 5 points added to their final passing score on an open examination if proof of service is received prior to the final filing date of the recruitment. Such evidence must be submitted for each and every recruitment. Typically, this evidence is the DD214 form, which must be submitted to HR prior to the start of the examination steps to qualify for these additional points.

  6. Appeal of Examination

    Results of the application appraisal or other examination step may be appealed to the Human Resources Director. Appeals must be submitted in writing and delivered or postmarked within seven regular County business days after postmark of written notification of the application appraisal or other examination results. Contact the Human Resources Department for additional information. Recruitments conducted on behalf of the Sonoma County Water Agency, the Sonoma County Fair, Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District, Community Development Commission, and University of California Cooperative Extension are not appealable.

  7. Communication from the County during the Hiring Process

    Once an application is submitted, applicants typically receive notice within 2 weeks advising them of the next step. At this stage, applicants will receive one of three notices from Human Resources: 1) that they have met minimum qualifications and are advancing to the next stage, 2) that they have met minimum qualifications but are not most qualified and will not be advancing to the next stage, or 3) that they are not qualified. Those who receive notice that they are advancing will be invited to the next exam step, which could be the Written Examination or the Oral Interview Examination.

    After the applicant has successfully passed all exam steps, they will receive notification of their final score and their rank on the employment list. Those who do not pass the examination steps will receive notification accordingly. Applicants whose names are in the top ranks may be referred to the hiring department. When names are referred, Human Resources will send a final notification to the candidate to inform them of the hiring department’s vacancy and who they should contact to be scheduled for the department selection interview.

    When candidate’s advance to the department selection interview, communication regarding the final selection process will then come from the hiring department.

  8. Hiring Department Selection Process

    Vacancies are filled from among the top three to five standings/ranks of available candidates on the employment list. Names of candidates who are not selected are retained on the employment list, by Human Resources, for future consideration. Once the names of candidates from the top ranks are referred by Human Resources to the hiring department(s), the remaining selection steps are administered by the hiring department(s).

  9. Background Checks

    A pre-employment background investigation will be conducted on candidates for whom an offer of employment is being considered. A separate reference check will also be conducted.

  10. Pre-Employment Medical Examination

    Applicants extended a conditional offer of employment may be required to pass a medical exam authorized by the County (at no charge to the applicant) prior to appointment and starting work. An attempt will be made to make reasonable accommodation for any physical disability or medical condition in compliance with applicable Equal Employment Opportunity and Americans with Disabilities laws. Successful candidates are cautioned not to terminate their present employment until the medical examination has been completed and approved.

  11. Pre-Employment Drug and Alcohol Screening

    Drug and alcohol screening may be conducted as part of the medical examination for initial hires and for all current employees extended a conditional offer of employment in law enforcement, probation, and drug and alcohol assignments. Any person who is referred for a medical examination and fails the drug and alcohol screening test will be declared ineligible for all County employment for a period of six (6) months. In addition, the person will be suspended from any current employment list on which he or she occupies a standing/rank. The cost of the exam is paid by the County. However, any retesting based upon appeal is customarily paid by the applicant.

  12. Employment Eligibility Verification

    Federal law requires that only United States citizens and aliens authorized to work in the United States be employed. Documentation of eligibility to work in the United States will be required as a condition of employment. Candidates must present acceptable documentation proving eligibility for employment in the United States (such as Social Security card and driver’s license, or other acceptable documents).

  13. Agency Shop

    Employees hired into classes represented by the SEIU, ESC, Operating Engineers, DSA, or SCLEA union labor contracts are covered by the Agency Shop provisions which require new employees and certain others to pay an agency shop service fee in lieu of dues. That fee is generally 95% of membership dues, if the employee does not choose to join the union as a member.

  14. Loyalty Oath

    Under California state law employees are required to sign a loyalty (constitutional) oath before employment.

  15. Disaster Service Worker Requirement

    Applicants should be aware that all County employees are designated under Government Code Section 3100 as “Disaster Service Workers.” This means that each employee may be required to return to work or remain at work for a disaster related assignment. In past winter storms and flood disasters, it was necessary to utilize only a few County employees for disaster related tasks. In a major earthquake, severe winter storm or other weather events, a larger number of County employees could be required to serve as disaster service workers. County employees and their families are advised to be aware and be prepared when a disaster occurs in Sonoma County, by creating a Family Emergency Plan.

    More information about the requirements and expectations of this program are provided during new employee orientation.

For answers to specific questions regarding:

Employment Process

Human Resources
(707) 565-2331 Work

Employee Benefits

Risk Management
(707) 565-2900 Work

Retirement Benefits

(707) 565-8100 Work

Family Care and Medical Leave (CFRA Leave) and Pregnancy Disability Leave

Disability Management
(707) 565-2331 Work

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