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 168 countries and territories.
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. We regularly score highly in surveys of ‘employers graduates would most like to work for’. The Civil Service has moved up to 2nd place in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2017-18.
The FCO employs around 12,600 staff around the world. Roughly a 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, e.g. 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 updates on the FCO careers and also look out for details about events taking place close to you from your university careers service.
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, we offer 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.
Alongside our own Graduate Internship, we offer placements under schemes run by other government departments (such as the Civil Service Fast Stream and the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP). 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.
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, so you should check the relevant website 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 2017 we offered work experience placements under the following schemes:
The FCO’s Graduate Internship programme for graduates from any background interested in developing a career in international relations (up to 9 months placements for 45 graduates, from September 2017 to June 2018). Interns were recruited in Spring 2017.
The Fast Stream Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP) for undergraduates from diverse backgrounds in their penultimate or final year. Candidates must be from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background or be socio-economically disadvantaged or have a disability (a 6-9 week summer placement for 25 students). Recruitment began in autumn 2016.
The Civil Service Fast Stream Early Diversity Internship Programme (EDIP). The scheme gives first year undergraduates from diverse backgrounds a 1-week taster of a career in the Civil Service. Candidates must be from a BAME background, or be socio-economically disadvantaged or have a disability (1-week spring placement for 5 students). Recruitment began in autumn 2016.
The Civil Service Work Experience Programme run by Civil Service Resourcing (CSR), supporting high achieving students from low income backgrounds seeking to reach top level universities and professions (a 1-week placement for 5 school age (14-15) students). CSR works directly with local schools to arrange placements through the year.
The Government Economic Service summer student placement scheme aimed at economic students who are seriously considering a career in the Government Economic Service (GES) after graduation (an 8-week summer placement for 4 students). Recruitment began in autumn 2016.
The Government Economic Service sandwich student placement scheme aimed at economics students who are seriously considering a career in the Government Economic Service (GES) after graduation (a 12-month student placement for 5 students). Recruitment began in autumn 2016.
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). DWP work with local job centres to arrange placements throughout the year.
You may be interested in reading comments from some of our summer interns: Quotes from 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.