US Department of State Reviews in Washington, DC | Glassdoor

US Department of State Washington DC Reviews

Updated July 3, 2017
24 reviews

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Washington, DC Area

2.0
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US Department of State Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson
1 Rating

24 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • work/life balance; very formal culture (in 30 reviews)

  • You have to move every two years as part of the foreign service (in 56 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "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


  2. Helpful (1)

    "FSO"

    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
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Providing services to the American people overseas and working to advance U.S. interests around the globe is an incredible privilege.

    Cons

    Working in the current environment, disconnected from and distrusted by the State Department leadership and the White House, is demoralizing.

    Advice to Management

    Career staff at State (especially Foreign Service Officers) want to make a difference in the world. End your isolation from them. Engage with them, really work with them, and your efforts will deliver effective and lasting results. Continue to avoid doing this, and your policies will be much less effective and more transitory.

  3. Helpful (1)

    "Facility Manager"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Facilities Manager in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Facilities Manager 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 5 years)

    Pros

    Paid housing and private school

    Cons

    moving every 2 to 3 years is hard for the little ones


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

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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


  5. "Working at the Department of State"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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.


  6. Helpful (2)

    "DoS Construction Engineer, OBO"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "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
    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.

  8. Helpful (3)

    "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
    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.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Two Class System"

    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
    Neutral Outlook

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

    Pros

    You get to work on big picture problems, help American citizens, and learn about the world.

    Cons

    Two class system. If you are a foreign service officer, you are afforded more opportunities. Civil service employees are largely pigeonholed under the guise of 'continuity' and looked down upon. Worse so if you are a contractor.

    Advice to Management

    Streamline all processes. Whether it is getting clearances , writing EERs, or just getting approval to travel, there are horrible inefficiencies in the day to day operations. You need to empower your workers more - lots of smart people who are forced into a consensus model results in sub-optimal decision making.


  10. Helpful (1)

    "very uninspired management"

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

    Pros

    big, well-known employer
    helps when applying for other jobs

    Cons

    very bureaucratic
    poor managers
    the secretary of state himself is fine but huge lack of leadership and management talent


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