US Department of State

  www.state.gov
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US Department of State Reviews

Updated May 3, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.8 310 reviews

90% Approve of the CEO

US Department of State Secretary of State John Kerry

John Kerry

(77 ratings)

87% of employees recommend this company to a friend

Review Highlights

Pros
  • See the world while serving your country(in 12 reviews)

  • I worked at the Foreign Service Institute, where they train diplomats(in 22 reviews)


Cons
  • Foreign Service officers are then central employee core and taken care of(in 27 reviews)

  • The biggest challenge is that every two years, there is a rotation of mid-level Foreign Service Officers who arrive with "attitude"(in 15 reviews)

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    6 people found this helpful  

    Should be a dream job, but the State Department lacks integrity

    Foreign Service Officer (Former Employee)

    ProsThe salary is great and you will have very unique learning experiences

    ConsI'd love to write a positive review, much as I would have loved to enjoy working in the US State Department after spending my entire life studying and training to be a Foreign Service Officer. As soon as I showed up for the A100 class, though, I was disgusted by the culture of politics and self promotion that permeates the department. When I got to post to do the work, I was astounded at the level of managerial incompetence. This is an institution that lacks the managerial skills to effectively manage its burdens, and lacks the integrity to address those deficiencies honestly. Instead of focusing on performing the job they're paid to do, officers focus uniformly on getting good written reviews from supervisors and building good "corridor reputations," by going along with managerial incompetence and aggressive politicking. I was astounded at just how much of an officer's work is spent on internal politics vs. doing the actual job. The culture is filled with unhappy people spending much of their work trying to figure out how to correct the mess they find, hide the problems they encounter so that they won't embarrass their managers, and politic around to get the next dream post in a far away land. It's tragic. Many officers pretend that the work "representing their country" makes up for the managerial shortfalls, but in my observations those shortfalls meant that we actually were often doing anything but the real work of out country or representing the US with integrity. The cons are balanced by the unique opportunities if you can stomach giving up integrity for politics, and the reality that you can save a lot of money in the job. Indeed, a lot of officers spend the bulk of their time figuring out how to game the system and earn more money and perks, which leads to yet more politics. The support services are often so overwhelmed that you have to do their job for them, and politic just to make sure things run smoothly. Everyone bends over backwards to help out people in positions of power, but everyone else has to push to make sure things get done. Fundamentally, the institution lacks integrity, which is tragic given how important it is and the consequences of its failures. The scandals you read about in the headlines are only the very tip of an iceberg, because State is very adept at "putting the needs of the service first" and getting officers to hide its dirty laundry in return for career opportunities.

    Advice to Senior ManagementReplace the EER process with a real peer review. It is absurd that people work to make sure they have a good EER as opposed to achieve real results, and the EER process is widely abused and manipulated. The fact that an entire month is practically devoid of task work because officers are focused on the EER cycle says a lot about where priorities lie within the culture, and should be a point of shame. Implement opportunities for officers to expose incompetence and provide anonymous feedback other than the Dissent Channel, which is too high level for the many serious but mundane issues. Until State shows integrity in the way it manages its employees, for example by not abusing junior officers in visa tours, it won't fund much integrity amongst its officers. Which is a shame cause outside of the State system they are some very good people.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
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    3 people found this helpful  

    Project Manager

    Project Manager (Current Employee) Washington, DC

    ProsVery Good Benefits. Staff is very dedicated and smart.

    ConsAdvancement is based on a "beauty contest" rather than accomplishments, experience and demonstrated capabilities. Less qualified candidates have been chosen consistantly over more qualified candidates.

    Advice to Senior ManagementTake some Management training.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Work/Life Balance
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    • Approves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    Avoid State Department Management & Operations

    Financial Management Officer (Current Employee) Washington, DC

    ProsState Department is divided into several "cones" or divisions. You'll probably be satisfied if you go in as a political, economic, consular, or public diplomacy officer. Just not a management officer.

    ConsDon't ever go into anything that deals with internal management, especially if you're in the civil service or foreign service specialist. The bureaucracy is suffocating. Management is incompetent, and to get anything done, working through layers and layers of red tape is just simply exhausting. People actually take pride in finding loop holes around the regulations in order to get something done.

    Advice to Senior ManagementWhy are there any financial or general service specialist in the foreign service when any generalist with no prior financial management or procurement can also take the job with a bare 2 months of training?

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    1 person found this helpful  

    DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT WORKING HERE!

    Senior Consultant (Current Employee) Macon, GA

    ProsYou get 3 weeks of vacation and 3 weeks of sick time. The health benefits are also pretty resonable compared to other places.

    ConsThe pay is horrible and their is no growth here. You are not allowed to express new ideas, nor are you given decent raises.

    Advice to Senior ManagementStart investing more in your employees and treat them like they are adults instead of children. If your employees are happy, you will have a more productive workplace and a lower turn over. You will also begin to get people with more talent and a greater educational background.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
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    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    non-existent career trajectory for non-FSO

    Office Management Specialist (Current Employee)

    ProsBenefits and foreign travel. Fairly good leave.

    ConsLack of respect for specialists is rampant in the FS. I imagine that is why there is no mechanism to promote specialists into officers, despite their wealth of first hand experience in embassies. Specialist careers are static for perpetuity, with FSO scavenging up all the management opportunities, despite the fact most FSOs were hired for their policy crafting and writing abilities, and generally have poor organizational leadership skills. The primary thing they teach FSOs in A100 is is Kiss Up (to your FSO superiors) and Kick Down (specialists). If you are a specialist, be prepared for a culture of abuse.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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