Graduate recruitment

The graduate recruitment process video

Who we want

As a dynamic agency working in a complex environment, the agency is looking for graduates from varied backgrounds.

We are looking for graduates with high-level analytical and communication skills; people who are adept at working in teams. Practical, results-oriented people who are able to work under pressure, occasionally in difficult environments, meet tight deadlines, and who are pro-active in getting out and about and making contacts.

We are looking for graduates with a strong record of academic achievement, as well as extra-curricular activities in whatever form that might take, be that paid work supporting yourself through university, involvement in community groups and events, or a range of other activities. We are looking for graduates who have a genuine interest in international issues and understand the contribution Australia can make internationally.

The agency is looking for graduates who are:

  • talented and highly motivated
  • good communicators
  • strategic thinkers and practical problem solvers
  • team players, flexible, adaptable and resourceful
  • sensitive to, and appreciative of, difference and diversity.

In recent years graduates have joined DFAT with degrees in  fields as diverse as Antarctic studies, architecture, arts, Asian studies, business, commerce, communications, computer science, economics, international relations, language studies, law, medicine, science,  engineering, commerce, accounting, human resource management, ICT and business administration.

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We are committed to building a workforce that reflects the diversity of the Australian community. Our recruitment decisions are made on the basis of merit and we do not discriminate on the grounds of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion or disability. Our employees enjoy equity and fairness in the workplace, opportunities for professional development, and support to balance their work and private lives.

The department is committed to providing equal employment opportunities, access, equity and social inclusion for all employees, and in particular for the following groups:

  • Indigenous Australians
  • women
  • people from a non-English speaking background, and
  • people with disability.

Indigenous Australians

We encourage and support applications from Indigenous Australians. We also have a number of graduates who come through the Indigenous Graduate Recruitment  Program, which is managed by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC).

People with Disability

We aim to be an Australian Public Service leader in bringing about an inclusive Australian society. To achieve this vision, we encourage the participation and contribution of people with disability to inform DFAT policies and will work together with stakeholders to make DFAT not just an employer of choice for employees with disability, but a model employer in the Australian Public Service.

RecruitAbility applies to all vacancies at DFAT. Under the RecruitAbility scheme, applicants will be invited to participate in further assessment activity for the vacancy if they choose to apply under the scheme; declare they have a disability; and meet the minimum requirements for the job. For more information see:

We strongly encourage suitably qualified people with disability to apply for our advertised vacancies. We aim to provide a work environment which is inclusive, supportive and safe for employees with disability.

More information: Disability Action Strategy 2017-2020.

It is our policy to make reasonable adjustments for employees with disability and for people with disability who are applicants for employment. If you need assistance or adjustments to fully participate in the application/interview process, please contact:

  • the Executive Officer, Workplace Diversity, (02) 6261 2263, by email to or
  • the department's HR services provider, Ignite on (02) 6113 7500.

Employment opportunities will not be denied to anyone because of the need to make reasonable adjustment for a person's disability.

Employees’ personal circumstances are taken into account in overseas posting decisions and the department does not require employees with disability to serve in locations where local infrastructure and services do not meet their needs.

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Applicants must be Australian Citizens at the time of application and must have finished at least a three-year bachelor degree by 31 December the year of applying. Your most recent degree must be no more than five years old. If you only hold a qualification from an institution based overseas, your application will only be accepted if Australian documentation recognizing your qualification is submitted with your initial application.

Security Clearance

Pursuant to Section 22 (6) of the Public Service Act 1999, a security clearance is a condition of employment for employees of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

All employees are required to undergo comprehensive security clearance processing prior to commencement with the department, and every seven years thereafter. The department will conduct the security clearance process for successful candidates. Should you be successful in securing a recommendation for engagement from this recruitment process you will be required to undergo a security clearance.  A face to face interview is a critical part of the security clearance process.  This interview will be conducted in Australia.  If you reside overseas please be aware that you will be required to return to your home state or any other state in Australia at your own expense to undertake the security interview.  Interviews cannot be conducted by video link or Skype. 

This process consists of several steps and can take an extended period of time to complete. In addition to providing detailed and comprehensive financial, relationship and other information, preferred candidates for vacancies will be required to give their written consent for the department and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to conduct their own detailed background checks and enquiries.

If a preferred candidate is not successful in obtaining a security clearance, his/her offer of employment with the department will be withdrawn. Once a person has been appointed to the department, loss of a security clearance at any time will result in the termination of the person's employment.

What we offer

Graduates will commence on a salary equivalent to Australian Public Service Level 3.2.See DFAT Enterprise Agreement 2015-2018 | [DOC 515 KB] for rates. Other conditions of service include:

  • Flexible working hours
  • Annual recreation leave
  • Cumulative personal/sick leave
  • A comprehensive superannuation scheme
  • Long service leave

For more information visit the salaries and conditions section.

Training and development

Beyond the graduate programs, we offer training and development opportunities across a broad range of topics, including leadership and management skills, core professional knowledge and skills, and languages.

We also offer leave and financial assistance to support further part-time study in fields relevant to the agency’s work. Graduates may apply for our study provisions after completing their two-year graduate program.

For more information visit the training section.

Overseas postings

Working overseas is an interesting and challenging aspect of work in DFAT. The graduate training program aims to prepare officers for work in the agency, including overseas. After completing the program, graduates will work in placements in Canberra and be eligible to apply for an overseas posting. Graduates should expect to be in Canberra for several years before their first overseas posting, provided their performance merits posting consideration. While individual preferences will be taken into account, these will not necessarily be the determining factor in a posting decision. You will also be expected to serve in a variety of locations, including difficult and demanding ones.

For more information visit our overseas service section

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