Disabled and want a great state job? Use the state’s LEAP program

There is one group that is favored when applying for state jobs besides veterans and that’s the group of people with disabilities. Veterans get extra points. People with disabilities are provided with a separate streamlined process for landing on state eligibility lists under the state’s Limited Examination and Appointment Program.
Thousands of people with disabilities land on state eligibility lists every year. However, for the most part, that is only place they land. The state hires between 30-40,000 new employees every single year–good years and bad years. In the end, the costly LEAP program facilitates just over 100 new LEAP employees per year–that’s 0.3 percent of the total. So those who can’t take advantage of this program have nothing to fear–100 out of 30,000 does not take a job away from you!
If you are eligible to participate in the state’s LEAP program, listen up and we’ll tell you a few tricks of the employment trade. Bureaucracy notwithstanding, you can make the program work for you.
Most LEAP examinations involve a review of your education and experience. To receive a civil-service appointment, you’ll need four months on the job–with monthly evaluations–that’s the “test.”
For example, for the Office Technician (Typing) list the regular process involves a tough math test–and who gets in the test is pretty tightly restricted (i.e., you have to know someone who tells you the 10 minutes to log onto the web and sign up before it closes).
For the Office Technician (Typing) LEAP list, all you have to do is apply; no “test” is involved. And let’s be clear about that: A “test” is a written or computer test involving the answering of questions in one sitting and a scoring of your answers as to “right” and “wrong.” LEAP exams do not involve such “tests.”
The Big Break. You may have thought the big break for the LEAP program was not having to take a test. Well, you were wrong. The big break in the LEAP program is that everyone on the list is immediately hirable by a state agency manager. Let’s repeat that: Everyone on the list can be hired; you don’t have to be in the top-three ranks.
It’s called the rule of the list. For example, the regular Office Technician (Typing) List has 3,731 names on it. Only 49 of those names are in the top-three ranks–immediately eligible for hire–and all 49 had scores of 98 or higher.
In contrast, the Office Technician (Typing) LEAP list currently has 311 names ranging from rank one to 10–every single one of those 311 people is eligible for immediate hire by a state agency manager. And they keep your job if you pass a four-month super-probationary period. That’s all it takes to land a state civil-service job if you qualify for the LEAP program.
How to qualify for the LEAP program. To qualify to participate in a LEAP examination, you’ll need to visit a local Department of Rehabilitation office and ask for the Counselor of the Day. They’ll give you the packet you’ll need to have your doctor fill out. When the form is filled out, you will take it back to the Department of Rehabilitation and they will provide you with your LEAP certification. Make many copies of this certification.
You’ll need to send one copy of the LEAP certification to the State Personnel Board (801 Capitol Mall; Sacramento, CA 95814). They’ll need to have your certification on file. This process takes about a month, depending on when you can get the form back from your doctor.
Two examinations you can take today! Once your LEAP certification is on file with the State Personnel Board, you can start applying for “eligibility lists.” On the State Personnel Board Web site you can take two LEAP examinations today and have list eligibility instantly. These are the Office Assistant and Office Technician examinations.
You can sign up for General or Typing. If you sign up for Typing, you will need to provide a typing certificate prior to being appointed to a state job. We recommend you sign up for the Typing one as there are more Office Assistant (Typing) and Office Technician (Typing) positions than General positions. You don’t need to take a typing test until you have a job offer. For the typing positions, you are required to type 40 words per minute.
On the State Personnel Board Web site, you click on the link “Seeking Employment with the State of California” and you are placed on page two. At the top center of the column, you will see “On-Line Exams”. Click on that link and you will have options to sign up for the LEAP Office Assistant and LEAP Office Technician examinations. You will initially be asked to supply your social security number. If you have not pre-registered with the State Personnel Board by submitting your LEAP certification, you will be blocked at this point by this question.
Next, you will have some preliminary questions related to whether you meet the minimum requirements–a high-school degree for Office Assistant and a high-school degree and 24 months of clerical experience for Office Technician. Remember to interpret the “clerical experience” liberally. A waitress’ job in a restaurant in which one is constantly writing down people’s orders is “clerical.” Manning a cash register at Wal-Mart is “clerical” and so forth. “Clerical” means “of the office” or in more common terms “paperwork.” The receipts you print out at the Wal-Mart cash register are “paperwork.” Be liberal.
Further along, you will begin the examination. The “examination” is simply a review of your work experience, including specifics such as whether you have used a calculator at work. We recommend, again, that you be liberal in describing your work history and capabilities. If you limit your experience, you will not pass the test and you will not have list eligibility.
Since you can take the test only once every 18 months, we don’t want you to fail. Therefore, we recommend that you log onto the test, answer the preliminary questions and then print out the test questions. When you reach the end of the test, where they ask you to “score the examination,” you want to either use the “back” button on your browser or “quit” the browser. If you click on the “score” button, you will be rated on your non-answers.
At this point, use the printout you have created to answer each question at your leisure. Ask someone who knows your work skills, or one who loves you, to review your answers. The other person’s objective will be to review your experience in a more liberal manner than you would and prompt you to change some of your answers. Listen to them and change your answers on the paper copy.
When you are satisfied that your answers represent a positive and liberal view of your experience, log on to the examination again and enter those answers. This time, you will want to “score” the examination. Instantly, if you pass, you will have a sheet of paper that indicates you are eligible to be hired by a state agency.
Finding a job opportunity. At this point you are ready to aggressively seek a state job. You can find the openings on the State Personnel Board’s Web site under “vacancies.” Construct a cover letter to convince a hiring manager to interview you, fill out the state application, and then attach the “list eligibility” you received today. Send out many of these packages and follow up with phone calls.
You will soon have interviews and be on your way to landing a state job!

Ken Mandler teaches a monthly workshop on How to Land a State Job. The workshop focuses on a variety of tactics and strategies designed to make the state job process an effective one for you. The workshops are three and one-half hours and include over 400 pages of information for your review. The cost is $84. The next workshops are scheduled for Tuesday, February 27, 6:30-10pm; and Saturday, March 24, 9am-12:30pm. You can sign up by calling (916) 443-6788 today!

Want to see more stories like this? Sign up for The Roundup, the free daily newsletter about California politics from the editors of Capitol Weekly. Stay up to date on the news you need to know.

Sign up below, then look for a confirmation email in your inbox.


Support for Capitol Weekly is Provided by: