Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Index


    Additional FAQs are added as questions are submitted.

    What career counseling services are offered at a CMS Assessment Center?

    Career services staff at a CMS Assessment Center can evaluate your education, training and experience and suggest possible state position titles for which you may be qualified that match your employment interests, salary requirements and geographical location preferences. While you can schedule an appointment to meet with a career counselor at any CMS Assessment Center, these appointments fill up quickly. Thus, applicants are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the “Career Counseling by Mail” or “Career Counseling by Email” services. Simply complete a CMS-100 application, indicate you want counseling by mail along with your geographic employment preferences and salary requirements, and mail your application and request to the Chicago or Springfield assessment center or email your request and these materials to A career counselor will review your application and respond with potential job title matches based on your credentials and preferences. Link to the Career Counseling Services page on the website for more information.

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    Where can I get an Examining/Employment Application (CMS100)?

    You may obtain an Examining/Employment Application (CMS100) by contacting any one of the following locations:

    • CMS Assessment Centers

      • Chicago: James R. Thompson Center, 100 West Randolph, Suite 3- 300, (voice) 312/793-3565 or Illinois Relay Center: 800/526-0844.
      • Springfield: Capital City Center, 130 West Mason Street, Second Floor, (voice) 217/557-6885 or Illinois Relay Center: 800/526-0844.
      • Champaign: State Regional Office Building, 2125 South First Street, (voice) 217/278-3435 or Illinois Relay Center: 800/526-0844.
      • Marion: State Regional Office Building, 2309 West Main Street, (voice) 618/993-7005 or Illinois Relay Center: 800/526-0844.
      • Rockford: E.J. "Zeke" Giorgi Center, 200 South Wyman, (voice) 815/987-7004 or Illinois Relay Center: 800/526-0844.
    • Any Illinois Employment and Training Center (IETC) operated by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

    • The Department of Central Management Services Examining and Counseling Division Office, Room 500 Stratton Office Building, Springfield, Il 62706, (voice) 217/782-7100 or Illinois Relay Center: 800/526-0844.

    • The application can be downloaded from the internet and completed electronically or printed and completed manually.

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    May I submit a resume for grading instead of an Examining/Employment Application (CMS100)?

    No. In order to get full credit for your work experience, you must complete the Examining/Employment Application (CMS100) in detail with comprehensive descriptions of your previous:

    • duties,
    • hours worked per week or month,
    • numbers of subordinate staff, and
    • work experience in detail.

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    Can I get information about the hiring and testing process online?

    Yes. Please visit our website at for information about the services and programs offered by the Department of Central Management Services.

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    I don't have internet access at home. Where can I go to view postings and submit applications online?

    Those without home access to the internet can visit dozens of state facilities across Illinois to view postings and apply online. View the Contact Us page for a list of locations.

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    Is volunteer experience credited toward my final grade?

    RELATED professional volunteer experience, if quantified, will be considered and credited accordingly. Be sure to describe the hours worked per week or month, any supervisory responsibilities, etc. Non-related volunteer experience is not credited for the position for which you are applying.

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    What are the various types of civil service tests?

    There are several forms of civil service tests.

    • Automated tests are primarily for entry-level and mid-level position titles. They are in the form of multiple-choice questions on a touch screen computer. These questions are grouped by subject matter. There will be a question or statement and four possible answers from which to select the correct answer.

    • Performance tests determine the applicants' keyboarding, data entry and/or dictation speed. These portions of the Automated Testing process are required for titles which have typing, data entry or dictation as part of their duties.

    • Training and Experience (TraEx) reviews are used for position titles needing higher levels of training and/or experience. Education and Experience on the CMS100 employment application is evaluated and scored according to the requirements of the position.

    • Supplemental questionnaires are used for position titles which have specialized technical experience and/or mandatory education requirements. The questionnaire asks specific questions related to the position. These are used to help assess the level of the candidate's qualifications for a particular position.

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    What is automated testing?

    Automated testing is offered at all test sites. Automated testing refers to the manner in which a test is administered. There is no paper involved. The entire test is presented on a computer screen. Multiple choice questions are displayed on the computer screen, up to four possible answers are listed, and you merely touch your selected answer. It is not necessary to be proficient in the use of a computer to perform well on an automated test. This type of testing offers many advantages to the applicant. Most tests are graded immediately upon finishing the examination and you receive your grade notice before you leave the test center. After the test is scored, you have 15 minutes to see your scored results and you receive a breakdown of how well you did in each section. Certain regularly tested job titles require the applicant to possess a certain level of education and/or experience as a prerequisite. Applicants who test for these titles will be sent their grades through the mail after their qualifications are reviewed by the Division of Examining & Counseling.

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    Do you make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities?

    Yes. CMS has an Accommodated Testing Program for persons with disabilities. Applicants who have a certified disability may request a reasonable accommodation. To request accommodation, please contact the Disabilities Coordinator at 217/524-7514 (voice) or Illinois Relay Center at (800) 526-0844.

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    How long does it take to get a grade notice?

    For most automated tests, the grades are provided upon completion of the test. If the automated test is for a title that requires the applicant to possess a certain level of education and/or experience as a prerequisite, you should receive your grade via the mail within 5 – 7 days of taking the test. Otherwise, you will receive a grade notice by mail if the grade for a title is dependent on an assessment of your training and experience (TRAEX). Please be advised that, due to the heavy volume of applications received for TRAEX titles, it may take several weeks for your application to be evaluated and graded.

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    What happens if I don’t get an A grade?

    "A" grade candidates are interviewed first. If you do not receive an “A” grade, it would be to your benefit to re-test in an effort to improve your score. You may test again for the same title after 30 calendar days. If you wish to appeal a grade you’ve received see the next question.

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    How do I appeal my grade?

    Applicants have always been able to appeal their open competitive and promotional examination grades by submitting a signed and dated statement requesting an appeal to the CMS Examining & Counseling Division. Grades must be appealed within ninety (90) days from the exam date in order to be considered a valid appeal. Appeals will be considered received on the date they are stamped received by the CMS Examining & Counseling Division. Untimely appeals will not be considered. Submit your written appeal to Central Management Services, Examining & Counseling Division, Room 500, Stratton Office Building, Springfield, Illinois 62706.

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    What happens after I take my test and get my grade?

    Your name will be placed on an eligibility list for the county or counties of your choice. When a state agency intends to fill a position, the personnel office requests the eligibility list for the position title and a particular county. The employing agency contacts the individuals inviting them to interview for the vacant position.

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    How long are my grades valid?

    When you receive a passing grade, your name is placed on an eligibility list. Open competitive grades remain on the list for 12 months; promotional grades are valid for six years. Your name will be removed from the eligibility list if you fail to respond to an invitation for interview (referral), or if you waive or decline two referrals.

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    Do I need to reapply for identical job titles and options if I have already established a grade for that particular job title and option?

    Open competitive grades are valid for a period of one (1) year. If you are satisfied with the grade you have received for this title and option, do not resubmit the application in response to a job posting! Resubmissions of applications for a title and option may result in your grade being nullified. You have been placed on an open competitive eligible list for this job title and option and will be considered if an agency requisitions the open competitive list for the work location you have indicated. If you wish to change the work location (county/city/region) that you originally indicated on your application, you may do so after you receive your grade notice by submitting a Change of Information Request Form - CMS263 to:

      Examining & Counseling Division
      401 S. Spring Street
      500 Stratton Office Building
      Springfield, IL 62706
      Fax: (217) 524-8740

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    How do I renew my grades?

    After your grade expires, you have to again participate in the civil service testing process.

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    What if I want to change one or both of my county choices?

    Complete and sign a Change of Information Form (CMS-263) and submit it to:

    Examining & Counseling Division
    401 S. Spring Street
    500 Stratton Office Building
    Springfield, IL 62706
    Fax: (217) 524-8740

    To help with your selection, a county map is available.

    The form and map are in PDF format and may be viewed/completed/printed using Acrobat Reader.

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    How many times may I change my counties?

    There is no limit.

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    I have heard of hiring preferences. Do Illinois residents have preference for hiring over non-residents?


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    What is "Reinstatement"?

    The Personnel Rules state that a former certified employee who resigned or terminated in good standing may be reinstated to a position in the class to which the employee was assigned prior to resignation, or to a position in any other position class for which the employee is qualified. Reinstatement is a means of employment – it is not a guarantee of employment.

    In order to be considered for employment via reinstatement, you must apply to agencies for posted vacancies.

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    What does Absolute Veterans Preference mean?

    In 1997, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that military veterans shall receive absolute hiring preference over non-veterans in the same grade category.

    Absolute Veterans Preference refers to two aspects of the hiring process. First, preference points are awarded to the passing scores of veterans when they apply for open competitive grades. The points vary depending on the nature of the military service and the status of the veteran.

    Second, when an agency hires from the open competitive eligibility list, it must consider veteran applicants before non-veterans.

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    What are "Cook County Zones"?

    Cook County is divided into five zones for the position titles listed below for the purpose of administering eligible lists. The open competitive position titles which Cook County zones apply are:

    • Automotive Mechanic
    • Child Development Aide
    • Cook I
    • Heavy Construction Equipment Operator
    • Highway Maintainer
    • Highway Maintenance Lead Worker
    • Laborer (Maintenance)
    • Licensed Practical Nurse I & II
    • Office Aide
    • Office Assistant
    • Office Clerk
    • Security Officer
    • Stores Clerk
    • Storekeeper I
    • Support Service Worker

    View the Cook County map and respective zones. The map is in PDF format and may be viewed using Acrobat Reader.

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      How do I save a copy of the application to my home computer?

      To save a copy of the file on your computer for later use, right-click on the link and select Save Target As, then select a location on your computer (like My Documents) to save the file. You can then go to your My Documents folder (or whatever location you saved the file in) and double click on it to open the application without needing to be online.

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      How do I transfer data from one application to another?

      Information from an old CMS100 application can be transferred to a new application using the copy (or cut) and paste functionality. All fields on the CMS100 application can be filled using the cut / copy functions found on the Edit menu.

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      What if I'm having problems downloading the Employment Application forms?

      Helpful Hints when encountering problems downloading the CMS100 Application or any other PDF form

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      How do I get my foreign university or college degree credentials converted into American University terms?

      Degrees from foreign countries must be converted into American University terms to be credited when applications for state employment are being evaluated. View the list of recommended credentialing services.

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