Marianne McCurrie

Global Diplomat

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Tuesday 07 July, 2009

How do you get into the FCO?

In terms of what background people have that join the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, I’ve seen a great variety.   Lawyers, police officers, new graduates, teachers, linguists.  What you have studied or have worked in before is not as important as the skills that you have acquired.  People join at different stages of their careers, different ages, with all kinds of backgrounds, some straight from school.  For those who have no work experience yet and this is the start of your career, there are still ways to show you have the necessary skills.  Think about the work-related skills you have already shown, say in volunteering work, summer jobs or being on the committee of a sports team.

For those joining the Diplomatic Service in particular, an aptitude for languages is desirable, but you don’t need to have learnt a language beforehand.  You could be posted anywhere in the world, so if you need a language for a posting, you will be provided language lessons.  If you have learnt a language already, this will help you learn a new one.  When you join, you will be asked to sit a Modern Languages Aptitude Test that assesses how well you can learn “hard” languages, such as Mandarin and Japanese, which are very different from English.

Work is constantly going on within the organisation to improve diversity, particularly at more senior levels, mainly through our Diversity Strategy.  This involves changes to our recruitment methods, staff training and regular staff surveys on how we are doing, with follow up on the results.  I can see these measures being taken as a staff member, but I would be interested to hear your comments on how the FCO is perceived from the outside in terms of diversity in all its forms.

P.S. Keep up to date with career opportunities at the Foreign Office by following our Twitter site:  fcocareers

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Hi Marianne, Your posts to date have been interesting to say the least, and rather inspirational. Could you possibly fill us in on some more details on how you got into the FCO and what grade you are currently at? Did you go through the Fast Stream process? Thanks in advance!

Posted by Ankur on July 27, 2009 at 09:16 PM BST #

This blog made my day. I have been working as a shop assistant for the last 2 and a half years in spite of my 2 degrees in law (LL.B.(1999) in Japan & LL.M.(2001) at Cambridge for International Law & EU Law). I have recently obtained my British citizenship and started to search for civil service jobs in which I can use my degrees and my native language, Japanese. I might be too old to apply for these positions, I will try to find an opportunity to have work experience in FCO. Thank you again for this blog.

Posted by Y.R. on August 09, 2009 at 02:54 PM BST #

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