Working for FCO

Our careers for generalist and specialist staff: recruitment policy, 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 around the world.

We employ a diverse range of talented people capable of delivering to a high standard, often under pressure or in difficult places. 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 are currently ranked 9th out of the top 300 most popular graduate employers.

We want the modern FCO to reflect the very best of 21st century Britain and encourage applications from all suitably qualified applicants irrespective of personal background or circumstances. Our 2014 Diversity and Equality Report includes data on the equality impact of the Foreign Office’s employment practices and activities.

All appointments to the FCO are made through open and fair competition, in strict accordance with the key recruitment principles of the Civil Service Commission.

Our staff

The FCO employs around 14,000 staff around the world. Roughly one third are UK-based British Civil Servants whose career typically includes work in the UK and postings overseas; and around two thirds are Locally Engaged (LE) staff, employed by a British Diplomatic Post overseas (such as an Embassy, High Commission, or Consulate). Applicants for LE roles should be based in that country and usually will need to be able to work in the main local language. For information on our LE vacancies, please visit the web page for the country you are interested in working in.

Recruitment Policy: Generalists and Specialists

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 many overseas), or as a Specialist (i.e. taking up a specific role requiring specialist skills, eg economists, 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 Civil Service Fast Stream.. Diplomatic Service Economists are also recruited through the Government Economic Service fast stream.


Overseas Security Adviser

  • Grade 7/D6

  • London

  • £50,000 + £4,520 London Location Allowance

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is responsible for promoting British interests overseas and supporting British citizens and business around the globe. To safeguard our staff and others for whom the FCO has a duty of care, the FCO seeks senior and experienced security experts who, as part of the small Overseas Security Advisers team, will provide the FCO with specialist security and risk management advice.

In this critical role, you will travel worldwide to assess the risks from espionage, terrorism and other forms of violent attack against our staff, buildings, assets and information. You will make appropriate recommendations for protective security measures and write comprehensive reports. A key element of the role will be giving presentations and briefs on security to a wide range of people and dealing with other government departments, representatives of governments overseas and commercial businesses frequently at the most senior level. You will also provide advice to those who make and apply security policy and contribute to training courses to promote security awareness.

For more information and to apply please visit our recruitment page

The closing date for completed applications is Midday Thursday 30 April

Japan and East Asian Security Research Analyst

  • SEO/C5

  • London

  • £33,428 to £40,905 + £4,520 London Location Allowance

This is a new role that presents an exciting opportunity for a talented research analyst to develop their expertise on security policy issues in Japan and East Asia and contribute to the development of UK policy in the region at a crucial period in its development.

You will offer specialist analysis and advice on foreign and security policy relating to Japan and the wider East Asian region. You’ll help to develop and enhance our organisational knowledge and understanding of the region and its potential security threats and play a personal part in nurturing excellent diplomatic relations. You will also play an important role in establishing strong professional relationships with relevant stakeholders, such as academic specialists and think tanks and have the opportunity to co-ordinate and deliver seminars and training events. The ability to engage with diverse audiences, build your professional network and represent FCO’s interests and objectives in the region will be essential.

For more information and to apply please visit our recruitment page

The closing date for completed applications is Midnight Wednesday 29 April

Vacancies for locally engaged staff overseas

If you are looking for information on locally engaged staff vacancies at our offices overseas please visit the web page for the particular country you are interested in working in.

Work experience

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 diverse 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 therefore mainly focused on 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 and cannot accept speculative applications.

All of our work experience schemes are centrally run by either the FCO or other government departments (such as the Cabinet Office/Fast Stream, Department for Works and Pensions (DWP), and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (Graduate Interns)). We launch our annual programme of schemes in early Spring each year, when we publish details of the schemes on this page.

You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In or sign up to our RSS feeds.

It is important to note that 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 and through fair and open competition, as set out by the Civil Service Commission. Interns do not receive any preferential treatment in the selection processes.

FCO Internship Schemes

In 2015 we are offering the following work experience schemes:

  1. 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 for the 2015 scheme 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).

  2. The Whitehall Social Mobility internship Programme supporting high achieving students from low income backgrounds seeking to reach top level universities and professions (a 2 week summer placement for 4 college age (16-18) students).

  3. 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 4 students).

  4. 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).

  5. The FCO’s Graduate Internship programme for recent graduates from any academic background interested in developing a career in international relations (up to 8 months placement for 30 recent graduates, from August 2015 to March 2016). Graduates were recruited through the Department for Business Innovation and Skills Graduate Talent Pool website in spring 2015.

You may be interested in reading some comments from some previous summer interns here;

Quotes from 2013 Summer Interns (PDF, 52.7KB, 2 pages)

International Secondments

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.