The State of California offers jobs in IT, public relations, budgeting and accounting, and medicine among a number of other fields. The process can be daunting to outsiders but hopefully this post can get you on track.
Step 1: Find classifications that are good fits.
The state has hundreds of classifications with names that can be less than intuitive. Recent grads in social sciences and humanities might look into the Staff Services Analyst class. People with a little more experience may consider Associate Governmental Program Analyst.
Fortunately the state recently revamped its website (jobs.ca.gov) to allow for keyword searches, spend some time with the website and explore. Feel free comment for some extra guidance.
Step 2: The Exam
Most civil service jobs require an online test in which applicants are asked to self-assess their skill sets. It is important to be honest, as your application will be reviewed, but not to sell yourself short. If you can justify the experience you should count it. Only applicants in the first three ranks (typically a 95% score) are considered reachable for hire. Veterans and people with disabilities are awarded additional points.
Step 3: The Application
Once you have passed the exam and found an interesting vacancy it's time to apply. The state has a standard form, the Standard 678, which is required for all applications. Read the job posting carefully as some departments will want a resume, cover letter, or answers to supplemental questions in addition to the 678. It's a good idea to always include a resume regardless of whether they've asked for it.
When filling out the 678 make sure that you're discussing the skills required for the job. They'll be looking at the duty statement and matching up what is required with what you have on your application. If you don't write it, you don't get credit for it!
The state doesn't always move quickly when hiring so be patient. You might want to apply to a number of open positions to increase the likelihood of getting an interview.
And that's it. That's the mystery. If you take this approach you can find a fulfilling career in state service. Best of luck on your first interview!