US Department of State Reviews | Glassdoor

US Department of State Reviews

Updated July 19, 2017
463 reviews

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3.8
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US Department of State Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson
16 Ratings

463 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • work/life balance; very formal culture (in 27 reviews)

  • You have to move every two years as part of the foreign service (in 54 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Great but initially overwhelming"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Intern - Student Intern in Washington, DC
    Current Intern - Student Intern in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State as an intern (More than a year)

    Pros

    Many opportunities for growth, learning and mentorship. Amazingly talented staff and exciting work.

    Cons

    Confusing building, bureaucracy, and HR can be a pain to deal with. However, the new administration has struggled to get its bearings.


  2. "Foreign Service Officer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Job security, overseas travel, language training, emergency travel benefits, pension = 1.7% of salary for first 20 years of employment, 1% after that.

    Cons

    Constant movement means you're never an expert for long, relocation tough on the friends and family, promotions not directly linked to performance, assignments selection process opaque and sometimes unfair, unconscious bias is tolerated and and institutional structures make it difficult for women and minorities to advance to senior positions. Most departments have a long wall of photos of previous Assistant Secretaries; about 90 percent have been white males.

    Advice to Management

    Revise performance evaluation process to remove reference to name or gender; require yearly training on unconscious bias, provide greater support for non-traditional families and employees married to immigrants.

  3. "FSO: Still Rewarding, Domestic Politics Aside"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    The opportunity to serve our country, represent America and Americans to the world, and the chance to take care of fellow citizens.

    Cons

    The bureaucracy stifles talent. Multiple levels of decision making. Lack of control over life.

    Advice to Management

    FSOs are unbiased professionals. Trust in them.


  4. "DoS"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Many of your colleagues are exceptional
    Living around the world
    Being in the right place at the right time to make a difference in world events
    Meaningful work when you are not babysitting an Ambassador (only some of them) or visiting delegation.

    Cons

    Difficult bureaucracy under the best of times, you learn the Govn't will do what it wants, regardless of the rules, then use those same rules to beat you down - even when following their directives. Document! Document! Document! It is taxing being in that kind of environment.

    What is difficult under supportive administrations has become impossible. The institution is frozen and left to crumble by Trump/Tillerson.

    We are reducing our engagement at the behest of the president, while Congress continues to push for more by mandating reports and engagement when authorizing funds. Being caught in the middle, you can never satisfy them both and they both have power to crush you.

    Through fear-mongering the Diplomatic Security service (who for the most part are a great group of people who do great work!) has taken over the funding and constrain the operation of the department.

    A lack of leadership in an exceptionally risk-averse organization (especially at the Washington level) continually hobbles performance.

    Advice to Management

    Better manage conflict between Congress and the Executive to reduce intrusive and counter-productive conflicting requirements from both groups.


  5. Helpful (1)

    "More than Just a Career"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    The Foreign Service life gives you the amazing opportunity to live abroad while performing a valuable public service. In addition to broadening your horizons and exposing yourself to new languages, cultures, and surroundings, you get to do substantive work that advances U.S. interests and strengthens bilateral relations between the United States and your host country. The travel opportunities are endless and many of my contacts and colleagues have become lifelong friends.

    Cons

    The bureaucracy is abysmal and it seems like you are always fighting some battle against the Department. With a world of emerging technologies available to us, sometimes it feels like we are stuck in the past when it comes to arranging transfers from post to post. The Foreign Service does not value diversity of opinion as much as it says and if you do not neatly fit into one of the standard categories of diplomats, you will have a hard time.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to your employees and erase the phrase "that's the way it has always been" from your repertoire. Fix the broken HR system from hiring to advancement to retirement. Taxpayers spend a huge amount of money on our training and transportation, so it is a disservice that we do not invest as much in professional, management, and leadership development as the military.


  6. "D.S. Agent"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Diplomatic Security Agent in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Diplomatic Security Agent in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    get to see the world and provided housing overseas

    Cons

    Married more to your job than you are your spouse and treated like a number not a person


  7. "State Department- Public Affairs Bureau"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Public Affairs Specialist in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Public Affairs Specialist in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Driven team, dynamic work, job security. Public Affairs is essential to the Department, so you know you're going to get support.

    Cons

    Exhausting, sometimes distasteful work, little day to day stability.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to your experts. Recognize we're competing with sensationalist media.

  8. "Trainer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Corporate Trainer in Arlington, VA
    Current Employee - Corporate Trainer in Arlington, VA
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The Foreign Service institute (FSI) is an Interactive, sharing community with focus of ongoing professional development

    Cons

    Department of State is under a hiring freeze for the foreseeable future.

    Advice to Management

    Be transparent in sharing information


  9. Helpful (1)

    "An essential if challenged institution"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Intelligence Analyst in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Intelligence Analyst in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Fascinating set of issues and real-world challenges.

    Cons

    Bureaucracy, bureaucracy, bureaucracy, bureaucracy, bureaucracy!

    Advice to Management

    Take more management training - inside and outside the Dept - before trying to manage!


  10. Helpful (1)

    "Entry-level foreign service officer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Opportunity to serve your country, sense of duty and fulfillment in the job, chance to live abroad, steady career progression, decent pay and standard of living, good benefits

    Cons

    Impact on family and personal life, slow bureaucracy, passive-aggressive culture, pay your dues at the entry-level, at the mid-level not truly merit-based--assignments are based on who you know and promotions are based on how well your manager writes your evaluations. Sense of duty and fulfillment comes from how much the President and Secretary value what you do...which is dependent on the Administration

    Advice to Management

    Value your staff as people with families, not just numbers to fill assignment slots. Revamp the promotion and assignments process based on merit and hard work, not on who you know and how well your managers write your reviews.


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