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Diplomatic Services operational officer: Job description

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A Diplomatic Services operational officer works within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to protect and promote UK interests throughout the world in a variety of ways.

The FCO deals with issues such as:

  • climate change;
  • human rights;
  • conflict resolution;
  • forced marriages;
  • trade and investment;
  • counter terrorism.

Operational entrants specialise in the practical side of diplomatic work and will work in foreign policy and service delivery overseas. There will also be the opportunity to influence international and diplomatic development.

An initial period will be spent in London before the operational officer is posted overseas in a British embassy, high commission or consulate. Each posting lasts for three to four years.

Typical work activities

Diplomatic Services officers rotate between an assortment of roles, including many overseas. This will affect the specific type of tasks carried out but they may include:

  • drafting and proofreading written reports;
  • liaising with high commissions and embassies;
  • organising and ensuring the smooth running of ministerial and diplomatic visits, from transport arrangements to entertainment;
  • answering general written correspondence by letter or email;
  • analysing and interpreting written material;
  • dealing with queries by telephone from other departments, members of the public and overseas contacts;
  • dealing with queries from the public face to face;
  • updating travel advice and information;
  • managing staff, including overseeing staff performance and carrying out annual appraisals;
  • handling departmental or project budgets;
  • updating and completing personnel details, accounts and other administrative tasks;
  • supporting and assisting colleagues with their policy work;
  • undertaking other specific activities related to your particular department.

Overseas, the role may involve similar activities to those listed above, in addition to:

  • assisting British exporters and individuals;
  • working as an entry clearance officer, assessing visa applications and conducting interviews;
  • undertaking specialist project work, depending on where you are posted.

These initial postings are decided on the basis of candidates' experience and skills at entry. For later postings, post holders apply internally and go through a selection process.

Written by AGCAS editors
March 2015

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