Working for FCO
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 2015 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 are currently ranked 5th out of The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2015-16.
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 will be visiting a number of universities across the UK in 2015 and early 2016 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.
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 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 Talent Pool. We launch our annual programme of schemes in early spring each year, when we publish details of the schemes on this page. The recruitment campaigns for our 2016 schemes have now ended. Please see below for details of the schemes we offered.
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 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 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.
Please note, the application windows for each of the Whitehall schemes vary and the relevant website should be checked for further details.
You may be interested in reading comments from some of our recent summer interns:
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.