The majority of positions in the department are designated as generalist positions, which means that no particular technical skill (e.g. accounting, legal expertise) is required and the position can be filled by any otherwise qualified officer at the corresponding level. For generalist positions the department recruits to level, i.e. APS4 to SES Band 3, rather than to specific vacancies. These selection rounds are used to fill a number of positions at a time, across various areas of the department.
Generalist staff can perform, during their career with the department, a number if not all of the following types of duties, both in Australia and overseas:
- development and implementation of foreign or trade policy, including country or region political and economic analyses
- provision of advice to the Government, in particular the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Trade, about international strategic, political, economic and trade issues, or treaties and other international legal matters
- provision of advice or services to the department's clients, such as other foreign governments, other areas of the Australian Public Service and the Australian public
- liaising and negotiating on behalf of the department and representing the department or the Government at meetings, conferences or seminars
- provision of media liaison and public affairs support, including contributing to the enhancement of Australia's image overseas
- provision of corporate enabling services such as financial management, human resource management and property management, or administrative support
- delivery of passports and consular services
- management of security for the department's information, staff and property.