About the Merit System

Positions we cover

What happens when you apply to the Merit System

How testing effects eligibility

How to re-apply

Keeping your application active

Eligibility after you’ve been hired

Other links

The Minnesota Merit System is a personnel system that serves 64 Minnesota county human services agencies in 71 counties. Federal regulations require that each county human services agency funded with federal money establish a selection (hiring) process that is fair and gives all qualified and interested applicants equal opportunity to pursue the job.

Many larger counties have the resources to carry out this function. However, most counties in Minnesota have found it more economically efficient to contract with the Minnesota Merit System to carry out the federally mandated part of their hiring process. This works out well for you, the applicant, because when you apply through the Merit System, you have the opportunity to become eligible for positions in any of the agencies we cover, and don’t have to apply in 70 different places.

To submit an application, go to http://agency.governmentjobs.com/mnmeritsystem

Positions we cover

Most of the positions available are in the social services/human services agencies that use our service. Most counties call it the social services department. Others call it the family services agency. Still others refer to the department as the health and human services department. Whatever it is called in your county, it is the county agency that provides services such as financial assistance (income maintenance, previously known as welfare), social services, child protection and child support services.

The jobs available through our system are the types of jobs that carry out and support these services. The majority of positions available through the Merit System are social workers, eligibility workers and child support officers. Other positions exist in support of these functions, such as accounting technicians or office support specialists.

The positions are located only in the social services/human services departments. Positions in other departments in the county are not covered by the Merit System. If you are looking for work in the highway department or the court system, contact the county administrative offices in the county you are looking; hiring is usually managed by the county coordinator, human resources, or the county auditor.

What happens when you apply to the Merit System

Applying to the Merit System doesn’t automatically mean you are applying for a job. Generally speaking, each county under the Merit System has its own hiring practice and unique process. Part of that process will always require Merit System eligibility. To submit an application, go to http://agency.governmentjobs.com/mnmeritsystem

When you apply to the Merit System, you are actually applying for the assessment process. Many times, this means an employment exam. The exam will usually be in one of two formats: a written exam that you take at a scheduled time and place, or a rating of training and experience, where you are assigned a “score” based on your qualifying education and the type of experience you already have that would strengthen your qualifications for the position in question. There are other types of exams as well. The exam process for each job classification is explained in the online postings at the Merit System’s Online Application Center.

Once you pass the exam process and your name is placed on the eligible register, you become part of the pool of candidates from which hiring agencies can select their candidates for a position.

When it is time to fill the vacancy, the county will request a list from the Merit System. We will find all eligible candidates available for the position, sorted by score, and refer the top candidates to the county. Usually the county will get the names of the 15 candidates with the highest scores. However, many times candidates who are in the top 15 have had some change since originally applying, and may not be available for the vacancy in question. Then the county can request additional names from our office, so the county is always able to work with 15 “active” job seekers. The county is not obligated to request these supplemental lists, but in the case of a shortage of qualified candidates, counties are often anxious to consider all options.

For more information about the Minnesota Rules that guide our operation, see Minnesota Rules Part 9575.

How testing effects eligibility

Sometimes, counties will “pull” the eligible list as it stands before ever posting a vacancy in a local newspaper. However, many times, there are not very many candidates on the existing list, so a county will post a vacancy locally and solicit interest in the job they have open.

Often the county will require that you complete a local county application and submit it to the local human resources office in addition to being Merit eligible. That means that, even if you have already taken the exam and are on the list, you still have to submit a county application by the application deadline.

Regardless of the county process, when it comes time to hire, the county is generally obligated to hire from candidates identified as “eligible” by the Merit System.

Keeping your application active

Once your name is placed on the eligible list, it will usually stay active for one year. But don’t go away! If you are seriously considering employment opportunities in certain counties, it is still your responsibility to continue taking good job-seeking actions and keep your account up to date. If a county tries to contact you and can’t, not only will you miss the opportunity to interview for that job, but your name could be removed from future eligibility as well (if the county notifies our office that you cannot be reached, your “spot” on the list will be forfeited). To update your personal information, log onto your account and click on the “My Account” link,

  • • If you move, update your contact information with the Merit System in the My Account area of your online
  • • If you get a new job but are still interested in Merit opportunities, update your employment and education data in your account to include your new experience.
  • • If you go back to school, finish your degree or change majors, be sure you update your education records online.
  • • Your application is generally active for one year. Be sure to re-apply in time to re-take the test.
  • • Be certain that your location availability is up to date.
  • • Watch local postings. If a county has a vacancy that requires a local application, be sure to submit one on time and double check that your online Merit System application materials are in order.
  • • Be honest in your application! If we find a factual discrepancy in your application materials, you will be removed from the eligible list, and if you have been hired, your employment will be terminated.
  • How to re-apply

  • • Re-applying looks the same to you as submitting a new application. Log onto your account, find the exam listing, click on the online posting, then click on the “Apply” link in the upper right corner of the posting.
  • • Within a few days you will receive something from the Merit System so you know your new application has been processed, or you will be notified of the next written exam opportunity, if applicable.
  • Eligibility after you’ve been hired

    Once you are hired into a regular position, your name will no longer be referred for positions in the same job classification. Usually, after you are hired, you serve a probationary period of six months to one year. Once you have passed your probationary period, you are eligible to transfer into other positions in the same job classification under the Merit System.

    Transfers can occur between positions in the same county or between Merit System counties. If you are interested in learning more about transfer eligibility, contact the Merit System for further information.

    Other links

  • Non-Merit System county employment
  • Minnesota Rules governing the Merit System
  • Minnesota Technical College Training program for financial workers (Pine Technical College)
  • Merit System class specifications
  • Additional questions about Merit System?

    Email dhs.merit.system@state.mn.us

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