Entry into the Diplomatic Service is very competitive - and you will face stiff competition. Take these 2004 figures as an example:
- Ratio of applicants to vacancies: 80.6 [2,417 applicants for 30 vacancies];
- Overall success rate of applicants: 1.1% [i.e. 27 recommended for appointment].
(Original post by Nofer)
you need to become a member of the foreign office and at some low admin stage and then work your way up.
I would think it very unlikely for someone to start off in an A2 post (Diplomatic Service Executive Assistant), which requires no academic qualifications etc, to work their way up to becoming say, a Policy Officer in the Diplomatic Service (C4).
A C4 post is, as you later mention, only really available through the Faststream. You must have a degree (any discipline), 2:2 or above in order to apply. Although FCO does not favour one particular degree subject over other, I would suggest it somewhat obvious that fields such as IR are probably more welcomed than say Psychology! And I would also wonder, for example, how you might compete at an early stage against others who have a First Honours if you only have a 2.2.
C4 Selection Procedure is as follows:
C4 - Policy Officer, Diplomatic Service (Fast Stream)
These positions are recruited once a year. You should expect the selection procedure to last a minimum of twelve months.
An on-line self-assessment module which includes a 'realistic job preview' and verbal and numerical reasoning tests. These are designed to give prospective applicants some insight into life as a Policy Entrant and the standards required.
An on-line assessment stage, using tests to gauge candidates' verbal and numerical reasoning skills and a multiple-choice competency questionnaire.
A job-related electronic 'in-tray' exercise. These will take place under test conditions at regional centres around the country.
Attendance at a one-day Fast Stream Assessment Centre. Successful candidates will be given a mixture of written tests, group exercises and interviews.
A Final Selection Board interview. Successful candidates will also be asked to take a Language Aptitude Test to assess their ability to learn 'difficult' languages.
In addition to the above, candidates for the DS Economist scheme are required to take a specialist Economics Test before being invited to the Final Selection Board.
Before candidates can be offered a permanent position they will have to go through medical and security checks to make sure that they are suitable for this kind of work. All members of the Diplomatic Service must undergo security enquiries - known as developed vetting - to ensure that they have the right attitudes and temperament to handle sensitive work. Because the procedure has to be rigorous, it can take two months or more.
From what I have heard, experience is essential - volunteer with the UN, work for think-tanks, network and so forth. While fluency in another language is helpful (and they particularly favour harder languages such as Mandarin), there is no formal foreign language requirement - you must just be able to show that you have the ability to learn a foreign language later on in your career. This is assessed, as above, by a Language Aptitude Test. And while there are set academic requirements, there is natural intelligence to think of aswell - this is assessed significantly.
A profile of a successful Diplomatic Service 'Faststreamer' is available here: http://www.faststream.gov.uk/index.a...rrideDocID=121
To an extent the OBN comes into play, and it never hurts to have references from any powers-that-be, but more emphasis is probably placed on what university you attended - which is probably an indicator of a potential network you might have, or might have in the future and, of course, of your academic merit, the intellectual challenges posed to you, the enviornment you worked in etc (i.e. your personality traits and how they fit into like-minded environments, e.g. Oxford vis-a-vis
I would recommend visiting the website for the Civil Service Annual Recruitment Reports, available from the Cabinet Office website at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/reports/faststream/
. Reports are available from 2000/1 onwards, and include analysis of recruitment by gender, ethnicity, disability and, in particular, an analysis by university (page 15 on the 2004/5 report at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/publ...tream_full.pdf
) and analysis by degree type (page 18). They make for interesting reading - look under 'GFS' (General Faststream) for averages for the Diplomatic Service.
The FCO Recruitment website for the Diplomatic Service (Policy Officer) is available at http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?...=1007029394806