Working for FCO

Our careers for generalist and specialist staff: recruitment policies, university visits, current vacancies, work experience and internship schemes.

This information page was withdrawn on

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) was replaced by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in September 2020. This FCO page is no longer current. Instead, find out about working for FCDO.

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 over 270 diplomatic posts in 168 countries and territories.

Find out more about a career in the FCO by visiting our pages on the Civil Service Careers website.

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 been in the top 10 of the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers over the last decade and moved up to 2nd place in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2017 to 2018.

Our staff

The FCO employs around 13,000 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 our British Diplomatic missions 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.

We aim to recruit a diverse workforce - talented people, capable of delivering to a high standard, often under pressure and sometimes in challenging environments. We also offer maternity, adoption or shared parental leave of up to 26 weeks full pay followed by 13 weeks of statutory pay and a further 13 weeks unpaid, and paternity leave of 2 weeks full pay. To learn more about our work, and what you could do, follow us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. To find jobs at the FCO, visit the Civil Service Jobs website.


Recruitment into the FCO’s UK-based workforce is normally either as a generalist into the Diplomatic or Home Civil Service cadres where staff rotate between a variety of roles, including overseas, or as a specialist (taking up a specific role requiring specialist skills, such as research analysts, lawyers).

All appointments to the FCO are made in strict accordance with the key recruitment principles of the Civil Service Commission.

The Civil Service-wide recruitment freeze introduced in May 2010 limits new appointments to frontline and business-critical jobs only. This has generally restricted FCO generalist recruitment permitted under the freeze to the Diplomatic Service Fast Stream. We also participate in a number of other Fast Stream schemes including:


In contributing to the Government’s goal of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, the FCO is committed to developing our Apprenticeship Programme. In 2018 to 2019, we have recruited apprentices in Business Administration, Communications, Human Resources, Finance (Accountancy) and Commercial Procurement. We recruit apprentices via our own external recruitment and via the Government Communication Service Schemes.

Current vacancies

All our vacancies are published on the Civil Service Jobs website and can be found by using the ‘Organisation’ search engine on the website. We encourage you to visit this site regularly and set up vacancy alerts so that you do not miss our opportunities.

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, 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.

Undertaking work experience or internship with us does not in any way guarantee future employment with the FCO or offer any preferential treatment in the selection processes. Our recruitment for permanent employment is merit-based in strict accordance with the key recruitment principles of the Civil Service Commission.

We regret that the Graduate Internship Scheme has been cancelled for 2020, due to the unprecedented impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on our operations. We still expect to launch our 2021 scheme next year in the spring. Details will be published on this page nearer the time.

Alongside our own Graduate Internship, we offer placements under schemes run by other government departments such as:

The application windows for each of the government schemes vary, so you should check the relevant website for further details.

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 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.

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

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.