Careers

Who we want

The department operates in a complex and highly dynamic international environment.  We look for, and value in our employees:

  • responsiveness, especially to the Government we serve, but also to a wide range of other clients, such as parliament, business and individual members of the Australian public
  • knowledge of the international environment and issues relevant to the promotion and protection of Australia's national interests
  • the capacity to operate with sensitivity in many distinct cultural environments, while projecting clearly and confidently our Australian identity;
  • vigilance in the protection of sensitive information handled in the department, both in Australia and abroad
  • high standards of ethical and personal conduct, especially abroad where, in representing Australia, officers have a real impact on our international reputation
  • comprehensive and contemporary management approaches, encompassing best practice, family friendly policies, continuous improvement, performance evaluation, strict accountability and a strong commitment to training and development, and
  • personal and corporate flexibility, versatility and adaptability, all of which are demanded in a portfolio characterised by a uniquely diverse agenda and an often demanding and unpredictable environment.

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Avenues for pursuing a career with the department

There are several different avenues for entering the department. Each year, we conduct several general recruitment rounds for foreign and trade policy and corporate generalists, as well as ad hoc specialist rounds.

Our policy and corporate graduate programs are a popular avenue for both new graduates and others.

We also recruit Indigenous graduates, cadets and trainees.

We employ non-ongoing (temporary) employees to fill short-term vacancies in Canberra and our State and Territory offices.

It is also possible to work for an Australian embassy, high commission or consulate overseas by responding to one of their 'locally engaged staff' (LES) advertisements. All LES recruitment is managed by the relevant post.

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Overseas service

The department manages an overseas network of around 95 embassies, high commissions, consulates-general and multilateral missions. Some of these are large missions with more than 100 Australian-based staff including staff from attached agencies such as Treasury or the Department of Defence. Others are small, some with just one or two Australian-based staff.

Ongoing (permanent) employees of the department can apply for overseas postings, which are usually for a period of three years. Employees are not required to go on postings, although for most officers postings are an integral part of their service with the department.

Working overseas is one of the most interesting and challenging parts of a DFAT employee's career. Overseas service provides unique professional and personal opportunities, which most staff and their families find extremely rewarding.

However, there are a number of factors relating to overseas service that potential employees should carefully consider before contemplating a career with DFAT. Issues to consider are:

  • culture shock – fitting into the local community is not always easy, even if one does speak the language
  • working in difficult climates/exposure to natural disasters, for example in cyclone or earthquake prone locations
  • health and security problems in some places – e.g. unhygienic conditions, limited medical facilities, criminal violence and terrorism
  • homesickness and disruption to family and social life, especially for staff with children
  • disruption to a spouse's career and possible loss of second income – employment options are often limited
  • education opportunities for children vary and in a small number of posts appropriate educational facilities are not available
  • non-recognition of de facto and/or same sex relationships in some countries, which may affect a partner's right to work, taxation and social security exemptions, access to local educational facilities, etc
  • isolation/local restrictions e.g. restriction on contact and travel for women in some countries.

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Last Updated: 16 February 2017

Current vacancies

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Current vacancies