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Human Resources Department

Recruitment & Classification Division

How to Apply, the Application Process

Human Resources Recruitment & Classification 750

Learn about the County's current job openings by:

Important elements of the County's application and selection process include:


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 online application system is preferred and has many advantages such as the ability to:

  • Storing previous applications
  • Copy application information to a recruitment
  • Manage address and contact number changes
  • View notices
  • View the status of the application for specific recruitments
  • 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. Resumes 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 County of Sonoma and such information will not be made available to candidates.

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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 questions related to an applicants training and experience 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 the applicant meets the knowledge and abilities and 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, using position specific criteria, rate and score the applicant’s responses. The Application Appraisal is a formal examination step; therefore, applicants are advised to consider that completing the application is an examination in and of itself.

Since 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 their 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. 

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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 individuals with disabilities. Candidates should provide supporting documentation of the need for accommodation prior to the examination date. 

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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 apply to the new recruitment in order to compete for placement on the new list.  

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Promotional Examination

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

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Veteran Preference Points

Veterans who have served more than six months of consecutive active service in the armed forces of the United States of America and, have received a discharge or release from active duty under honorable conditions or being a disabled veteran, 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. 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.

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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.

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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. 

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