There are changes planned to the Foreign Service Exam for next year, a dumbing down, according to some. There is more competition for talent than in the past, so goes the story. This is interesting:
"The revamp is slated for next year, if the department secures the money needed to pursue it. The decision comes as official Washington grapples with its biggest hiring challenge in decades: finding fresh faces to replace a tsunami of retiring baby boomers. Over the next decade, 60 percent of federal workers will reach retirement age, according to the Washington-based Partnership for Public Service. Yet most people between the ages of 18 and 29 think the private sector offers more creativity and attracts the best minds, according to a new Gallup survey."
An acquaintance of ours took about three years to run through the Foreign Service mill. He passed the exam, security clearance, physical, etc., with flying colors. But it took him forever to get through the whole process and be accepted and get a posting. I suspect, but really cant prove (neither than can he) that its because he didnt go to one of the "right" schools within the "international affairs" orbit and because he was a veteran of the Army. And he was a fluent Spanish speaker and Latin America expert, what did they do? Send him to school for a year to learn Korean then sent him to Korea. If Foggy Bottom wants to reform its ways, it can cut back on the "right school" snobbery and aversion to the military for starters.
The government hiring processes across the board have the appearance of transparency without actually being transparent. Designed to be "fair" they are still open to manipulation by the agencies. Yours truly has applied for several government jobs only to be turned down and not even interviewed. My paper qualifications seemed sound, and firmly in-line with the selection criteria in the job postings. Didnt even make it to the interview stage.
In one case I heard through the grapevine that they filled the position from within the agency. I get the impression that the it was a done deal and the posting via OPM was merely for show. I dont know what its like at entry level, but for middle- and higher-level positions, unless youve got an "in", youre wasting your time tp apply. I cant imagine the State Department is any less insiderish and obsessed with hiring "people like us" so as not to invite boat-rockers and trouble-makers into the agency.
The private sector is refreshing. You apply, you get interviewed. And hired, or not. Without all the red tape and BS.
One problem with Federal hiring that is usually overlooked is where that hiring takes place. Those jobs will be overwhelmingly located in D.C. -- anyone know the median housing costs in that region? What "fresh face" just out of college could make it in that metro area on a Federal salary? Its no wonder that thousands are eschewing Federal employment...they need to decentralize their employment opportunities.
Do we need this many foreign service folks anyway?