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. 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 pages 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).

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 restricted FCO generalist recruitment permitted under the freeze to the Civil Service Fast Stream. - However, as a result of shortages, in October - November 2014 we started recruiting Apprentices, Administrative Officers and Executive Officers into our Home Civil Service cadre.


Administrative Officer Apprenticeships

The closing date for apprenticeship applications has now passed. Capita, our appointed recruitment agency, will be in contact with all candidates about the next stages of the application process, with a view to holding interviews in mid January.

If you have any questions about the application process please contact;

Capita Talent Partnerships

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 life 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 2014 we offered the following work experience schemes:

  1. The FCO’s Future Talent Scheme (FTS): a 6-9 week summer placement for 15 students entering their final year of university studies who are interested in a career in international relations. 5 of the places are reserved for undergraduates studying (at degree level) Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Pashtu or Russian.

  2. The Civil Service Fast Stream Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP), once again targeting undergraduates from BME and lower socio-economic backgrounds (a 6-9 week summer placement for 15 students).

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

  4. The FCO’s Graduate Internship programme for recent graduates from any academic background interested in developing a career in international relations (30 places for up to 11 months from April 2014). Graduates for the 2014 scheme were recruited through the Department for Business Innovation and Skills Graduate Talent Pool in late 2013.

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 (4 placements for 8 weeks).

Information about our 2015 internship schemes, which may be different from those offered in 2014, will appear here in early Spring 2015 and also on our ‘@fcocareers’ Twitter account.

You may be interested in reading some comments from 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.