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civil service/ diplomatic service

I'm currently in year 11 but it is my absolute dream to get into the diplomatic fast stream. What should I be doing to ensure that in 5/6 years when I apply I have the best possible chance of applying?My a-level are sociology, geography, philosophy and psychology- will these give me a good grounding for a career in diplomacy?I'd love ANY advice or information really!!!I love current affairs and my strengths lie in humanities and decision-based subjects so I think it would play to my strengths!
Reply 1
I think the diplomatic fast stream is the most competitive civil service fast stream but some things you can do to improve your chances would be to (i) get a good degree - ideally a first if you want to stand out, (ii) get relevant work or voluntary experience (for example international development related placements) and (iii) learn a foreign language - especially "difficult" languages like Arabic, Russian or Mandarin. Apologies if that advice is a bit simplistic but given how the application process works that's probably the best you can do to boost your chances.
Original post by criminv
I think the diplomatic fast stream is the most competitive civil service fast stream but some things you can do to improve your chances would be to (i) get a good degree - ideally a first if you want to stand out, (ii) get relevant work or voluntary experience (for example international development related placements) and (iii) learn a foreign language - especially "difficult" languages like Arabic, Russian or Mandarin. Apologies if that advice is a bit simplistic but given how the application process works that's probably the best you can do to boost your chances.
thanks! In regards to languages, my school isn't strong at teaching them for a-level so would learning the language through a online course etc be sufficient? Thanks!
Original post by eviebrizzle
I'm currently in year 11 but it is my absolute dream to get into the diplomatic fast stream. What should I be doing to ensure that in 5/6 years when I apply I have the best possible chance of applying?My a-level are sociology, geography, philosophy and psychology- will these give me a good grounding for a career in diplomacy?I'd love ANY advice or information really!!!I love current affairs and my strengths lie in humanities and decision-based subjects so I think it would play to my strengths!


A lot of the application process is jumping through hoops- numerical, verbal reasoning, competency questionaires, a situational judgement test, an e tray and an assessment centre. So the first thing to do is make sure your numerical & verbal reasoning is up to scratch when you come to apply.
Reply 4
Original post by eviebrizzle
thanks! In regards to languages, my school isn't strong at teaching them for a-level so would learning the language through a online course etc be sufficient? Thanks!


If you want to try and learn an extra language to add value to an application I would imagine it would have to be to a fairly proficient standard. I'm not sure whether an online course will be sufficient for that (depending on your learning style of course); perhaps evening classes might be worth considering.
Original post by criminv
If you want to try and learn an extra language to add value to an application I would imagine it would have to be to a fairly proficient standard. I'm not sure whether an online course will be sufficient for that (depending on your learning style of course); perhaps evening classes might be worth considering.


yeah that might be a good idea! probably better for when i'm at uni than now though I'm guessing! i'm good at french but my 6th form choices really aren't strong at it and i'm not amazing so I wouldn't get a good a-level in it!
obvs I can't offer any advice but history and politics at oxford?! that will be amazing- dropping history for catering GCSE was the silliest decision in my life :frown:
Reply 7
The FCO/diplomatic fast stream DO NOT CARE about your degree in the application process. Their only requirement is that you are able to graduate with a 2:2, and even that is only for appearance purposes. They have a fast track scheme that allows you to apply for the fast stream without even having a degree. The reasoning behind this is diversity. Many amazing candidates will not get amazing degrees from top universities and they do not want to miss out on those people.

Their main focuses are:
- verbal and numerical reasoning and situational judgment, to show that you are capable of handling the written and other tasks they give you to a high standard
- the civil service competences, to demonstrate that you will work well in a team and are able to work in the areas they deem important (ie, working at pace, or making effective decisions)
- your ability to communicate clearly and effectively in person, at interview or at assessment centre.

Everything they do is in order to ensure you have these skills.
They DO NOT CARE about whether you have experience in a relevant field, or language knowledge (with the exception of hard languages). They care more about how you implement your experience.

To give yourself the best chance, I would suggest really focus on choosing a degree you are passionate about, so that you can explore the things that make you tick. I would also suggest stocking up on workplace experience, whether that be a big office, your local Topshop, an internship or a year at an NGO. Also, your best chance of success comes when you have a lot to talk about in order to apply the competences. Do extra curriculars that you enjoy, perhaps that aren't just sport related. Get involved in the wider community, volunteer, take leadership roles wherever the opportunity presents itself.

Finally, it is so incredibly difficult and time consuming to obtain a job in the FCO or the diplomatic fast stream. It's probably the most competitive area of the Civil Service, so PLEASE make sure you are absolutely passionate about it before taking the journey. You're likely to become very acquainted with rejection, so you need that drive.
(edited 7 years ago)
Reply 8
Original post by eviebrizzle
I'm currently in year 11 but it is my absolute dream to get into the diplomatic fast stream. What should I be doing to ensure that in 5/6 years when I apply I have the best possible chance of applying?My a-level are sociology, geography, philosophy and psychology- will these give me a good grounding for a career in diplomacy?I'd love ANY advice or information really!!!I love current affairs and my strengths lie in humanities and decision-based subjects so I think it would play to my strengths!

Hey.
I know it's been 7 years but I'm in year 13 and hoping to go down the same route. What do you do now and any advice?
Reply 9
Original post by S.K.H
Hey.
I know it's been 7 years but I'm in year 13 and hoping to go down the same route. What do you do now and any advice?

If you want to apply for the Diplomatic Fast Stream, get a good degree (doesn’t need to be Oxbridge or a top university, or a particular course, just a good degree at whatever you study), get relevant work or internship experience (charities, NGOs and think tanks are ideal but any work experience is useful) and consider learning a “hard” language (a language degree might be a good option). Then practise doing competency based job applications.

And by all means apply for the Diplomatic Fast Stream when you are done with university but consider alternative Civil Service careers, as the Diplomatic Fast Stream is extremely competitive. There are international engagement jobs at the Home Office, Ministry of Defence, Cabinet Office, and Department for Business and Trade for example. Some of those departments even have a small number of jobs based in embassies abroad. It’s also possible to transfer to the FCDO (for both London based and diplomatic roles abroad) from within the Civil Service.

You can try to get those sorts of jobs via the generalist Civil Service Fast Stream programme, or there are often direct entry roles advertised on Civil Service Jobs (the Fast Stream only accounts for a tiny % of all civil servants). Take a look at the type of jobs available on Civil Service Jobs to see what sort of skills and experience you need.

Finally, you don’t need a degree for most Civil Service jobs but it’s harder to get into some of the more interesting jobs that you are probably after without one and you may need to work your way up. Networking is key, both with and without a degree, especially when you want to move from an entree level job to something more specialised. While all Civil Service jobs are recruited based on fair and open competition, if you know the hiring manager and they tell you when they are recruiting and exactly what they are after, you will be well placed to put in a strong application.
(edited 2 months ago)

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