degree policy analyst governmentThe Government of Canada’s Post Secondary Recruitment campaign (PSR) is run annually by the Public Service Commission. The PSR provides post secondary students with the opportunity to secure a full-time indeterminate position in the Government of Canada.

Every year, tens of thousands of post-secondary students who have graduated or are near graduating, write the exams with the hope of securing a permanent position with the federal public service. Unfortunately, not all are successful. Each year, the screening process becomes increasingly difficult and as a result candidates are screened out earlier in the process. This has been even more noticeable since the introduction of the Public Service Entrance Exam in 2011 (This exam has now been expanded to two exams with subsets in each exam) where the first exam is unsupervised, saving administration costs by having to inviting a small amount of candidates for the second exam which is supervised.

Being screened out of the PSR campaign is an emotionally difficult process for many. The campaign is only run once a year and in most years it provides several job opportunities at an entry level. However, all hope is not lost if you are not chosen. Below I will provide two alternative job options that you can consider:

Option 1: Recruitment of Policy Leaders

If you have a Master’s degree or Doctorate and exceptional academic achievements, this may be the program for you. However, there are pros and cons to applying to this program which I will briefly describe below:


  • There are substantially less candidates that in the PSR campaign (the Recruitment of Policy Leaders program usually receives approximately 1600 applications each year).
  • The process advances a lot faster than the PSR which can lead to a permanent position faster.
  • Upon entering the Government of Canada most Recruitment of Policy Leaders recruits join under the Economics and Social Science Services classification (EC) in a senior analyst position (EC-5 or EC-6). Positions in other classifications may be also be offered such as Information Services (IS) or Program Administration (PM).
  • A network of public servants hired through the Recruitment of Policy Leaders exists for new recruits. The network connects you to an engaged group of bright, experienced individuals who work on interesting policy issues throughout government.


  • Competition is fierce (not in term of numbers, but in respect to the experience that each candidate may have).
  • The pre-requisites are very strict and demand a strong proven academic record and other strong credentials (this can also be an advantage to those who possess these credentials). The application usually requires applicants to provide detailed information on academic excellence, policy experience, and extra-curricular activities.
  • There are several interviews to perform before being placed into a partially-assessed pool of candidates.

Option 2: Other job opportunities on

There are several job opportunities that present themselves that post secondary students can apply to and be successful. However, it is important to check the website daily as certain positions can be posted and removed in less than 24 hours. While several of these positions may ask for more skills than a regular PSR job position, this is compensated by the simplified application process and the lower number of applications for each job offer. After being screened into a typical job process from the Government of Canada, there is usually a written exam, an interview, second language testing (if you do not have scores), and reference checks. Compare this to the exhaustive interview process in the PSR campaign and there is a definitely an advantage to this route.

Being screened out of the PSR campaign is not the end of your chances of obtaining a government position for the year, keep your eyes open for other opportunities that may be of interest and can help you jump-start your Government of Canada career maybe even faster than the PSR campaign.