US Department of State Reviews in Washington, DC | Glassdoor

US Department of State Washington DC Reviews

Updated December 14, 2017
76 reviews

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Washington, DC Area

3.0
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US Department of State Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson
5 Ratings

76 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 58 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Great place. Poor politics"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Logistics Support Specialist in Dunn Loring, VA
    Former Employee - Logistics Support Specialist in Dunn Loring, VA
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The best reason is for the benefits and the pay depending on your level. Plus if you are a veteran the benefits are great.

    Cons

    The culture can be harsh and very political and employees are often discontent because of this. Lots of changes often.

    Advice to Management

    Check up on your employees.


  2. "Tough Under Trump..."

    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

    Working at Embassies and Consulates overseas, good benefits, incredibly intelligent colleagues.

    Cons

    Terrible morale right know under the Trump Administration...top career talent is leaving in droves...

  3. Helpful (2)

    "Strong Upsides for Foreign Deployments, But Serious Organizational Issues"

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

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

    Pros

    Foreign postings with paid housing and other benefits, interesting and at times inspiring work, access to extensive foreign language training, service to country, diverse position opportunities over the course of a career.

    Cons

    A very weak management and leadership culture, paid professional development opportunities can be difficult to secure, lack of accountability structures, sclerotic institutional culture, top-down creativity culture, lack of control over many key variables, like the composition of your team, chronic inability to deal with poor or even criminal performance, poor work/life balance culture overall, but little pockets of good balance can be found. Internal service provision to employees is often poor, and IT support and tools are very poor.

    Advice to Management

    The Department is in need of a massive overhaul in its personnel policies, particularly in talent recruitment and retention. The Department needs to take on the institutional blockages for dealing with poor performers. While language study is a requisite part of the career track, all to often students are given passing marks for very poor actual fluency in the target language. There needs to be mandatory, extensive leadership and management training at every level, which is now absent. Make judgement of senior leaders contingent on 360s, particularly from subordinates to take on a "kiss up, kick down" culture.


  4. "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.


  5. Helpful (2)

    "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. "Foreign Service-- Great for Men, So-so for Women"

    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 3 years)

    Pros

    Travel, Interesting work, Interesting Colleagues, Switch jobs every few years, Great cause, Opportunities to learn new languages/ skillsets

    Cons

    Marriage heavy culture, Not attuned to singles, Some Colleagues are super weird, Live in a fishbowl, Some tours are horrible, Promotion based on years in service-- not abilities, Some bad managers, White old male culture

    Advice to Management

    Don't assume everyone is married; Merit based promotion would create high quality manager


  7. "Deputy Assistant Secretary"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Deputy Assistant Secretary in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Deputy Assistant Secretary in Washington, DC
    Recommends

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

    Pros

    High visibility; gratifying work; smart and capable teams of people; expands professional network

    Cons

    work/life balance; very formal culture

    Advice to Management

    Create more opportunities for incoming, younger staff

  8. Helpful (2)

    "Poor training, poor managers"

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

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

    Pros

    Living overseas, travel, free language school

    Cons

    Too many egos, lower quality employees often hired to maintain some mythical "diversity" as if capability alone is not sufficient.

    Advice to Management

    Reach out to minorities but don't hire on the basis of quotas. Stop telling new FSOs that they are the best and the brightest - they're not.


  9. "English Language Officer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Contractor - Foreign Language Teacher/Contractor/Concierge in Washington, DC
    Former Contractor - Foreign Language Teacher/Contractor/Concierge in Washington, DC

    I worked at US Department of State as a contractor (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    I met some very interesting professionals and I traveled.

    Cons

    Was not clear why they just abruptly stopped giving me assignments.


  10. "Great Mission, Does Not Care About Employees"

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

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Traveling, adventure, new languages, interesting portfolios, meaningful work, participating in history.

    Cons

    Lack of diversity, HR rules and regs outdated, no care given to developing employees, large bureaucracy, does not leverage employee skill sets or talents, virtually no work life balance.

    Advice to Management

    Need to restructure entry level experience so employees become engaged and remain enthusiastic about the career.


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