State makes job application easier

Applying for a civil service job in California is getting easier all the time.

The California State Personnel Board (www.spb.ca.gov), which handles more than a million job applications annually, launched a Web-based form Oct. 20 that has been used by more than 11,000 applicants already — without any marketing or promotion.

The agency maintains a vacancy database system for state openings and a listing of all open exams.

A product called ReachForm, from Ottawa, Canada-based JetForm Corp., makes filling out job applications much easier than the other formats available on the agency's Web site, said John Determan, the board's staff information systems analyst.

He said the agency is using the product as the first step in a complete electronic submission system, in which applicants would fill out a form online and send it with a click of a button, he said. That full service may be unveiled sometime this year. For now, applicants must still print out applications and mail them in.

In using the form, a potential applicant receives a user ID and password for free after providing a name and contact information. After logging on to the system, the user fills out the fields on the application. The secure data is automatically saved, so if the user closes the application and returns to it later, no information is lost. Once the form is completed, the user prints it and mails it in.

About four years ago, the five-page application, which asks detailed employment questions, was posted on the site as a fill-in form readable in Adobe Systems Inc.'s Acrobat, Determan said. Users could key in data and then print the form. But if their system crashed or they had to close the file, data was lost and applicants had to start from scratch, he said.

Other state agencies then developed a Microsoft Corp. Word version of the application, but the application was inconsistent and didn't look right, he said.

In the spring of 1999, Determan's agency used another JetForm product called FormFlow 99 with which users could fill in information and save it to their hard drive or floppy disk, but it wasn't supported on Apple Computer Inc. Macintosh systems.

Joe Sampson, JetForm's director of state and local government operations, said ReachForm, unveiled in May 2000, works on any browser and any platform, whether Windows, Macintosh or Linux. The application uses Extensible Markup Language to work with different systems and products.

The product also is being used by North Carolina and Honolulu, Sampson said.

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