US Department of State Reviews | Glassdoor

US Department of State Reviews

Updated February 9, 2017
45 reviews

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US Department of State Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson
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45 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Work-Life balance not a priority (in 23 reviews)

  • Foreign Service Officers are the worst because they are never in a place long enough to do anything (in 45 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Contractor"

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

    I have been working at US Department of State as a contractor

    Pros

    The pay can be good. Its an avenue to getting your TS.

    Cons

    While on probation the amount of hours you get are very low. The upper management treats employees very badly


  2. "Anti-research and rather blasé about scientific method in general"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Department Chair in Arlington, VA
    Current Employee - Department Chair in Arlington, VA
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Fancy business cards and the occasional perk of overseas travel, plus a bumper-to-bumper benefits package, automatic salary increases, and beaucoup federal holidays

    Cons

    I can feel my brain slowly melting. Really. Coming from a research and academic background, I'm amazed at how little interest there is generally in learning from outside the agency

    Advice to Management

    A suggestion box and an open door policy are superficial ways to gather meaningful data on the work environment


  3. "Working at the Department of State"

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

    Pros

    Exposure to a variety of cultural activities and opportunities as well as working with people from around the world. Working for the US Government and having the opportunity to showcase my country to others.

    Cons

    This is a very large organization that often suffers from ridiculous bureaucracy and can be extremely slow-moving. Many of the rules and regulations are antiquated, but it is challenging to change them in a timely way because of the organization's size.

    Advice to Management

    Make the barrier to entry into the Department easier. The entire federal government is about to experience some extreme brain drain when people who have been here 35 or 40 years finally retire but because there is stagnation in the workforce, there won't be enough people to take those jobs over.


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  5. "Lots of drama"

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

    Pros

    Good benefits and its a gov job

    Cons

    unless you're sleeping with the right person or have the right friends you won't get the promotion. employees have failed drugs tests and the only punishment is paid leave for over a year.

    Advice to Management

    at least pretend to care


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Smoke and Mirrors"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Prestige. People are impressed when they know you work for the State Department.

    Cons

    Working for the State Department was a dream turned into a nightmare. Do not be fooled by all the interns who post positive reviews. They are interns. They are working for the "best of the best" for a short stint and likely have little responsibility. I was fooled by the "Best in Government" reviews. I thought working for the State Department would be like working for a white collar private employer. It was more like quasi military. They told us the Department was "conservative" in civil service orientation. What an understatement. This was one of the most oppressive environments I ever worked in. All companies do what's in the employer's beset interest, but State takes it to a different level. It will go to great lengths to cover up malfeasance. It was astonishing. Good, talented employees have options. You will probably be at home if you are former military. If you have never worked for the government, adjust your expectations. "Flexibility" is an abstract concept at State. Management behaves as though you should feel honored they chose you to work for their illustrious organization. Take your skills and experience where they'll be appreciated.

    Advice to Management

    Management knows best. Why bother dispensing advice?


  7. Helpful (2)

    "DoS Construction Engineer, OBO"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Former Construction Engineer, Licensed Architect, Construction Manager in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Former Construction Engineer, Licensed Architect, Construction Manager in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Travel opportunities, good benefits, retirement plan.

    Cons

    Hostile family environment, personal danger, dismal HR policies and follow through.

    Advice to Management

    Humanist policies regarding the workforce of State abound, but when a maverick officer feels like expressing his sociopathic tendencies toward his staff, the law does more to protect the offender than the victims. A small minority with ill intent is allowed to flourish and influence the work environment disproportionate to their value to the organization. HR not only does not penalize them, it protects them.


  8. Helpful (3)

    "Foreign Service Officer"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great travel, good benefits, some meaningful work (unless you're stuck on a consular line or under a micro-manager). Nice housing overseas. Good opportunity to save.

    Cons

    Little to no mentorship, particularly at mid-level. Very insider-oriented for jobs and promotions. Big mix of people just in it for retirement and other benefits, and go-getters that undercut one another for the small chance of promotion. Some have described it as a "shark tank." Very little work-life balance, especially as you get into mid-level and upper ranks.

    Advice to Management

    Empower your people, pay attention to personnel issues, invest in professional development and mentorship opportunities. Lots of lip service to all of the above, but very little substance.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Surprisingly Unstable"

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

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Sounds impressive on the CV

    Cons

    Surprisingly unstable; in my case, they (the US Embassy in the country I had taken a position) initially reneged on a written agreement regarding my salary, about a week after I arrived in country. I'd already committed and started the position, and had relocated at my own expense. Thus, after they reneged, I spent some time in a new foreign country absolutely unsure as to the status of my position, whether my agreement would be honored, or whether I would need to cut my losses and leave the position. They finally agreed to honor our agreement - but first they tried to persuade me to take 25% of the agreed advance (which I needed to secure housing, so I had to insist on the actual amount). They finally, grudgingly relented, just as I had made a mental decision to take the reduced advance and then head down to the Embassy's HR section and tender my resignation. A few months later, the government shutdown of 2013 took place and, again, I was absolutely uncertain as to whether I would be retained in the event of a shutdown - and could not get a straight answer.

    Advice to Management

    Honor all written agreements to staff and special consultants, no matter where they stand on the 'totem pole'.


  10. Helpful (3)

    "OMS/Secretary - you'll be treated like an inferior being"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    Current Employee - OMS
    Current Employee - OMS

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

    Pros

    Some very nice and bright people. The Agency does very interesting work.

    Cons

    As an OMS or Secretary you will be treated as an inferior by a large number of people. You will not be considered for higher jobs, since as an OMS or Secretary you can't be too bright.

    Advice to Management

    From what I've heard, from retired Secretaries and OMS, management seems to be beyond advice since we're not really worth spending any thoughts on. We're to do our simple tasks and else be quiet.


  11. Helpful (3)

    "Foreign Service Officer"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    Neutral Outlook

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

    Pros

    Chance to live and work abroad. Paid housing while there. The chance to marry an exotic spouse you'd never meet at home. Free language training. Better run than USAID. Lots of employees who believe in the work and in themselves. How else would you live in Bangui for two years?

    Cons

    There are maybe 200 people in the organization empowered to make a decision on anything of substance and the other 13,000 are there to support them or are waiting for them to clear on some report. The organization has a lot of good people but a lot have never worked anywhere else so can be a bit spoiled and self important. Ridiculous chasing of trendy things in public diplomacy. Consular work, the bread and butter of the place, is greatly devalued. Huge emphasis is put on political work which is nebulous and often unmeasurable. Weeks and months of work time is lost each year to performance evaluations and bidding on the next job. Promotion is done by faceless panels rewarding those who have enough free time to write exquisite evaluations of themselves. Employees are encouraged to give a lot of free time to the organization and hours can be brutal. Going out of pocket for thousands of dollars in expenses and fighting to get reimbursed. This is not entirely the fault of the organization but priorities change weekly. The single biggest issue is that recently employed folks have very limited chances to move up as promotions have slowed. If you don't move up the chain, you're not going to get great jobs in interesting places.

    Advice to Management

    Results over process. Learn how to measure performance. Learn how to allocate resources.



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