US Department of State

  www.state.gov
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US Department of State Reviews

Updated August 28, 2014
Updated August 28, 2014
334 Reviews
3.9
334 Reviews
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US Department of State Secretary of State John Kerry
John Kerry
84 Ratings

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)

More Highlights

28 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1.  

    Lost in the shuffle of bureaucracy

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time

    Pros

    Rare, but exciting opportunities to contribute to the management of dynamic and evolving situations related to international issues and US foreign affairs.

    Cons

    Feeling like a number lost in a system, surronded by careerist looking to impress the right person, as opposed to truly contributing to the mission.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Encourage free thinking and ambition.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Stay Away!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - IT Specialist  in  Washington, DC
    Current Employee - IT Specialist in Washington, DC

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    The cafeteria has an excellent array of cuisines.

    Cons

    Management and Senior Management are incompetent.

    Doesn't Recommend
  3. 5 people found this helpful  

    great pros and cons but overall, competitiveness makes it dysfunctional

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Foreign Service Officer  in  Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC

    I worked at US Department of State full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    travel, good salary & benefits, interesting work--making a difference sometimes

    Cons

    Not only is it "up or out", but Congress mandates 10% be low ranked each year for possible separation out--so if you ever don't get along with a boss, you have a sword of Damocles hanging over your head. Many good upper/middle managers mentor & bask in the (reflected) glow of their employees doing well--but lots of others like to set up their employees for failure so they can show the ambassador how they "saved the day" . I was a foreign service officer for 14 years, received lots of awards, meritorious step increases, etc. (including a Superior Honor Award, the highest you can get) and had a year of graduate school paid for--but was kicked out (without a full pension because I had not been in for 20 years or more) because of a bad boss. You really have to know how to play office politics and deal with people in mid to high level positions who never should have reached those levels.
    Also is very difficult for women employees to get ahead and still have a marriage and/or children. Not only are there few professional men who want to traipse around the world being house husbands and never getting any jobs or professional positions themselves--but the required "unaccompanied postings" mean breaking up the family for a year or more, exceedingly difficult for single moms. The promotion statistics still show the pattern of the 70s: married men (especially to traditional wives) and single women get promoted, since they can devote 100% of their time and energy to sucking up & promoting themselves.
    I am not just one embittered voice. Many years ago, State asked for a "vision statement" and officers sent in "Kiss up, kick down", "Rank has its privilege, but not accountability", etc. There were so many negative statements sent in that they dropped the idea.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Look into the facts behind the EERs

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    Overseas Work for U.S.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State

    Pros

    Opportunity to live overseas and depending on specialty do some interesting work.

    Cons

    Very bureaucratic. Must be willing to live anywhere and not always get the assignment you want to the country you want to live in. Must be willing to spend many years doing work that has little to do with previous experience or degrees.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Take management training seriously and provide a feedback mechanism to see that principles are put into practice.

  6.  

    U.S.-Slovak Republic Fulbright Scholar

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State

    Pros

    The small interaction I had with the U.S. office was easy and positive.

    Cons

    Slovak office provided no support or help for its Fulbright Scholars. Tried to get us to work in their office for free.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 5 people found this helpful  

    Dissapointing

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer  in  Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer in Washington, DC

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Important, meaningful work
    Opportunity to be a part of making history
    Contribute to ideas and plans of some of the world's most powerful people

    Cons

    Foreign service - civil service "caste" system increasingly benefits foreign service in mid-level and senior -level positions
    Foreign service tend to manage civil service, yet consistently lack the technical knowledge and skills needed to add value
    Foreign service has a very high rate of retention -- of both its outstanding officers and its dead weight, and tends to promote regardless, meaning that much of middle management hold positions beyond their real ability

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop promoting foreign service officers beyond their abilities just to fill empty middle management slots. State Department retains lackluster foreign service officers, producing a huge brain drain of exceptionally talented and ambitious civil service professionals who reach the GS-13 and GS-14 level and find they have little place left for upward mobility. I recommend this employer for entry-level civil service, but not beyond.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8. 2 people found this helpful  

    Not for me

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Foreign Service Officer
    Former Employee - Foreign Service Officer

    I worked at US Department of State full-time

    Pros

    The diplomatic immunity is always nice, as was the lifestyle, and in this economic climate you can't beat the job security.

    Cons

    You will have very little control over what you do and where you live. This is a large bureaucracy, it is incredibly outdated, inflexible, and un-acommodating.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9. 5 people found this helpful  

    Welcome to the Foreign Circus

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Foreign Service Officer  in  Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC

    I worked at US Department of State full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    World travel, occasional policy input, decent benefits.

    Cons

    Pseudo-military chain of "command" run by screaming incompetents; hated by Congress; misunderstood by most of the few Americans aware of its existence.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Tear it down and start over. The sad fact is that, under the current performance review system, a boss who doesn't like you and a boss's boss who doesn't care is enough to end one's career.

    This is not, funnily enough, cutting-edge personnel development practice, outside of North Korea.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 5 people found this helpful  

    Dysfunctional HR system stymies Best and Brightest

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Foreign Service Officer  in  Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC

    I worked at US Department of State

    Pros

    Highly selective recruiting process often produces impressive colleagues.
    International living, language learning opportunities.
    Meet lots of interesting people abroad, many of them civic or political leaders in their cultures.
    Write analyses of human rights, religious freedom, trafficking in persons that have an impact.

    Cons

    Short tours make for frequent, sometimes difficult family adjustments, especially for trailing or tandem spouses.
    Excessive human resources devoted to VIP handling, which means standing around uselessly as a "site officer."
    Promotions decided by a panel completely removed from its subjects, influenced by political correctness in designating promotees although ostensibly reliant upon written reports which consume an inordinate amount of energy each April but provide little meaningful feedback

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    A mixture of deep appreciation and profound disappointment

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Arlington, VA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Arlington, VA

    I worked at US Department of State

    Pros

    Fascinating, stimulating, committed individuals who are actually doing the work (as against those who are in a supervisory, management role)

    Cons

    Incompetent management; obsession at the management level with establishing and maintaining "corridor reputation" (what others think of you), sometimes at the expense of mission, and always at the expense of other people; very poor balance between quality of life and work

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Learn to match your deeds with your words. Focus on integrity and mission. Learn to build community among those who are serving under you.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO

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