Our careers for generalist and specialist staff: recruitment policies, university visits, current vacancies, work experience and internship schemes.
The FCO is the UK government department responsible for protecting and promoting British interests around the world, through the FCO in London and our network of 270 diplomatic posts in 160 countries.
We employ a diverse range of talented people capable of delivering to a high standard, often under pressure and sometimes in difficult places. We want the modern FCO to reflect the very best of 21st century Britain and encourage applications from all suitably qualified applicants irrespective of background or circumstances. Our Diversity and Equality Report 2016 includes data on the equality impact of the Foreign Office’s employment practices and activities.
In return, we guarantee a fascinating, personally rewarding career at the centre of world events. The FCO regularly scores highly in surveys of “employers graduates would most like to work for”. For example, we have moved up to 4th place in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2016-17.
The FCO employs around 14,000 staff around the world. Roughly one third is made up of UK-based British Civil Servants whose careers typically include work in the UK and postings overseas; and around two thirds are employed locally by a British Diplomatic mission overseas (such as an Embassy, High Commission, or Consulate). Applicants for these roles should be based in that country and usually need to be able to work in the main local language. For information on our local staff vacancies, please visit the web page for the country you are interested in working in.
Recruitment policy: generalists and specialists
All appointments to the FCO are made in strict accordance with the key recruitment principles of the Civil Service Commission.
Recruitment into the FCO’s UK-based workforce is normally either as a generalist (i.e. into the Diplomatic or Home Civil Service cadres where staff rotate between a variety of roles, including overseas), or as a specialist (i.e. taking up a specific role requiring specialist skills, eg research analysts, lawyers).
The Civil Service-wide recruitment freeze introduced in May 2010 limits new appointments to frontline and business-critical jobs only, which normally means specialist roles. This has generally restricted FCO generalist recruitment permitted under the freeze to the Diplomatic Service Fast Stream. Diplomatic Service Economists are also recruited through the Government Economic Service Fast Stream.
Visits to universities
Our staff visited a number of universities across the UK in spring 2017 as part of the FCO University Roadshow, to explain what we do and how rewarding a career in the FCO can be. Please follow our @fcocareers Twitter account (#BeForeignOffice and #FastStream) for the latest information and also look out for details about events taking place close to you from your university careers service.
Legalisation Support Officers
Ready for a new challenge? Want to join a busy cohesive team providing a key public service? This is a fantastic opportunity to do just that.
Located in the Milton Keynes area, the Legalisation Office is the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) largest public facing service. Businesses or individuals make applications to the Legalisation Office, to verify the authenticity of their UK public documents, ‘legalising’ these documents for use in another country.
An expert team of Legalisation Support Officers process over half a million documents annually, contributing to UK prosperity at home and abroad.
- be comfortable, confident and sensitive handling a broad range of public documents
- take a logical, structured approach to problem solving. Good judgement is essential
- enjoy working and contributing as part of a collaborative team
- have exceptional communication skills and a talent for clearly and simply explaining services over the phone, and in writing
- be comfortable meeting a personal daily output target (extensive training provided)
Read more about the Legalisation Support Officers role and apply before midnight on 16 October 2017.
Independent Governor, Westminster Foundation for Democracy
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office is seeking to appoint an Independent Governor for the Westminster Foundation for Democracy to attend board meetings and events in London.
Governors also serve on at least 1 of the Programme Quality, Audit and Risk Assurance or Terms and Conditions Committees. This involves attending additional meetings and ad hoc events.
Find out more from the Cabinet Office’s Centre for Public Appointments about the Independent Governor, Westminster Foundation for Democracy role and apply by 22 October 2017.
Senior Research Analyst, South East Asia
Developing our understanding of how South East Asia operates and its relations with the rest of the world is a high-priority area of focus for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). Joining us as South East Asia Senior Research Analyst, you will be uniquely placed to inform and shape that understanding. We will look to you to provide informed and timely research and analysis on a wide range of issues, particularly on the politics and internal dynamics of Burma, Thailand, and the wider Mekong region. You will also research the region’s evolving political, economic, and institutional relationships with its external partners. Working with people at all levels, from desk officers to Ambassadors, you will play an integral role in policy-making, providing policy aware advice, expert opinion and well-evidenced research to support policy making needs.
You will also lead efforts to build expertise on South East Asia within the FCO and be expected to represent the FCO at conferences and academic events. This is an excellent opportunity to become one of Whitehall’s leading experts on South East Asia, as you contribute to and inform the development of the UK’s relationship with the region.
Read more about the South East Asia, Senior Research Analyst role and apply before midnight on 16 October 2017.
Russia Research Analyst
Developing our understanding of how Russia operates and its relations with the rest of the world is a high-priority area of focus for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). Joining us as Russia Research Analyst, you will be uniquely placed to inform and shape that understanding. We will look to you to provide informed and timely research and analysis for use by FCO and other government policymakers. You will deliver tailored analysis for policy customers on particular aspects of Russian domestic affairs and/or foreign policy, both proactively and in response to specific tasking. In addition to developing relationships with UK-based experts on Russia outside of government, we will also expect you to represent the FCO at academic and other conferences relating to your portfolio.
You will maintain regular contact with outside experts, including the academic community and other parts of Whitehall, and it will be down to you to organise and chair in-house round-tables on policy-relevant issues. Join us and you will play a huge part in helping us improve and formulate the UK’s policy-making towards Russia and other countries of the former USSR.
Read more information about the Russian Research Analyst role and apply before midnight on Monday 9 October 2017.
Lead Commercial Adviser/Commercial Adviser and Lead Delivery Adviser/Delivery Adviser
These roles are exciting opportunities to shape the design of the commercial function for cross-government Funds across the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
The FCO uses its Official Development Assistance (ODA) to support and deliver the government’s 2015 Aid Strategy. As such, we are growing the commercial team and have brand new opportunities in 2 main areas at 2 levels: Lead Commercial Advisers and Commercial Advisors and Lead Delivery Advisors and Delivery Advisors. These roles are part of the team responsible for Commercial and Procurement advice to FCO stakeholders for cross-government Fund programmes, specifically the Prosperity Fund (PF) and the Conflict, Stability, Security Fund (CSSF).
Whichever role you join us in, you will play a vital role in the procurement of services and goods for the Fund(s), ensuring effective delivery in accordance with the best commercial advice. You will also play a key role in the shaping, delivery and management of the new Prosperity Fund Framework. Whether you are hands-on as a Commercial or Delivery Adviser, or in a leadership role as Lead Commercial or Delivery Adviser, you will be actively engaged in achieving the best mix of quality and effectiveness at minimal cost in terms of resources and financials. This is an exciting opportunity to make your mark and maximise the skills you have, building your commercial and leadership capabilities, and developing your international policy awareness.
For more information and to apply please visit: Capita Ras by midnight on Monday 9 October 2017.
Local staff vacancies overseas
If you are looking for information on local staff vacancies at our offices overseas please visit the web page for the particular country you are interested in working in.
The FCO aims to recruit a talented and diverse workforce which reflects the society we serve. In order to generate interest in FCO careers from a broader applicant base, the FCO offers a range of work experience opportunities each year. We hope that by giving individuals from a range of backgrounds the opportunity to sample working at the FCO they may consider the FCO as a future employer, as well as gaining beneficial work experience.
Our work experience opportunities, which are paid, are mainly focused on attracting individuals from backgrounds that are currently under-represented in our workforce, and on those who bring skills which we require to achieve our objectives. All work experience placements are awarded strictly on merit, after a competitive application process. In order to ensure our opportunities are accessible to all those who are eligible, we do not offer any work experience opportunities to individuals on an ad-hoc basis. We do not have the resources to acknowledge or respond to speculative applications.
All of our work experience schemes are centrally run by either the FCO or other government departments (such as the Civil Service Fast Stream and the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP). Our annual programme of schemes is reviewed each year; details of the FCO’s central scheme are published on this page -the application windows for each of the Government schemes vary and the relevant website should be checked for further details.
The FCO’s external recruitment campaigns are run separately from any work experience or internship scheme: work experience does not in any way guarantee future employment with the FCO. Our recruitment for permanent employment is merit-based in strict accordance with the key recruitment principles of the Civil Service Commission. Current or former interns do not receive any preferential treatment in the selection processes.
FCO Internship Schemes
In 2016 we offered the following work experience schemes:
The Civil Service Fast Stream Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP). The scheme gives people from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to see what a career in the Civil Service is like. Candidates must be from a black and minority ethnic (BME) background, or be socio-economically disadvantaged or have a disability (a 6-9 week summer placement for 15 students).
The Civil Service Work Experience Programme supporting high achieving students from low income backgrounds seeking to reach top level universities and professions (a 1-week summer placement for 5 college age (16-18) students).
The Government Economic Service summer student placement scheme aimed at economics students who are seriously considering a career in the Government Economic Service (GES) after graduation (an 8-week summer placement for 3 students).
The Government Economic Service sandwich student placement scheme aimed at economic students who are seriously considering a career in the Government Economic Service (GES) after graduation (a 12-month placement for 4 students).
The Movement to Work Scheme providing young people who are not in employment, education or training with work experience. (2 week placement for 5 people)
The FCO’s Graduate Internship programme for recent graduates from any academic background interested in developing a career in international relations (up to 9 months placement for 43 recent graduates, from June 2016 to March 2017). Graduates were recruited in spring 2016.
You may be interested in reading comments from some of our recent summer interns:
Quotes from recent Summer Interns (MS Word Document, 23.6KB)
The UK supports international efforts to prevent violent conflict, to resolve existing conflicts, and to build peace in post-conflict situations.
In support of this, the FCO seconds civilian experts and police (serving and retired officers) to international missions run by the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Find out more about International secondments with the FCO, for serving and retired police, and civilian experts.