Open yourself to a World of Opportunity

Interested in a Career in International Affairs, Foreign Relations, Trade Promotion and Commercial Diplomacy?

The U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (US&FCS), is looking for dedicated professionals to add to its complement of nearly 265 Foreign Service Officers serving in Embassies and Consulates around the globe.

The 2014-2015 Recruitment Cycle is now open to accept applications during period of December 1-19, 2014.  To apply, please visit the USA Jobs website to submit your application.  Please read carefully to follow all the instructions on the USA jobs website and allow yourself several hours for the submission process. 

Global Markets, the organization that includes the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (US&FCS), assists and advocates for U.S. businesses in international markets to foster U.S. economic prosperity. Utilizing our network of trade promotion and policy professionals located in over 70 countries and 100 U.S. locations, Global Markets promotes U.S. exports, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises; advances and protects U.S. commercial interests overseas; and attracts inward investment into the United States. Global Markets offers an outstanding platform for personal and professional growth, giving you access to people and places that are beyond the reach of most of your peers, the opportunity to learn new languages and the opportunity to live internationally.

About Global Markets

The United States & Foreign Commercial Service (US&FCS) is one of the Foreign Affairs Agencies under the Foreign Service Act of 1980 and resides within the U.S. Department of Commerce. The U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service is a primary component of Global Markets and is the name by which Global Markets is most recognized in both in the United States and abroad.

Global Markets has a federal government presence both across the United States and in countries that represent 91 percent of worldwide GDP with authoritative, impartial, accessible professionals who have specific trade and investment expertise. As trusted intermediaries with extensive public and private sector contacts, credibility and influence in foreign markets, Global Markets effectively assists U.S. businesses and partners in entering and expanding international markets, addressing barriers to accessing foreign markets, winning foreign government procurements and attracting inward investment.

Foreign Service Officers in the US&FCS are typically assigned to foreign posts, such as U.S. Embassies and Consulates, to promote the export of U.S. goods and services, attract foreign investment into the United States and defend U.S. commercial interests abroad. Commercial Officers also typically serve a tour of duty at an Export Assistance Center within the United States early in their careers and are encouraged to serve tours at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Headquarters in Washington, DC.

About the Foreign Commercial Service Officer (FCSO) Position:

Foreign Commercial Service Officers (FCSOs) are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate to represent the Government of the United States before foreign sovereign states. FCSOs carry out a wide variety of critical functions and work with a broad spectrum of government and private sector organizations to articulate, develop and refine United States commercial policy, promote U.S. exports and to protect U.S. commercial interests abroad. As a FCSO, you will have more than a job. You will have a career representing your country overseas. It is a way of life that requires uncommon commitment, but also delivers uncommon rewards.

FCSOs serving overseas provide in-country leadership for United States export promotion programs, designed in partnership with other agencies and organizations, to capitalize on existing market potential and create new opportunities. Officers advocate and intercede with foreign governments and trade organizations on behalf of the Government of the United States and American companies, and develop and utilize an extensive network of host country contacts at the local, regional, and national levels.

The Foreign Commercial Section at United States diplomatic missions regularly host Congressional, state and local government delegations, as directed by the Ambassador, and coordinate trade delegations led by senior Administration officials. FCSOs lead the implementation of Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee country/regional initiatives, support policy negotiations, resolve trade complaints, and implement comprehensive country export promotion programs.

FCSOs typically serve a domestic tour at one of over 100 Export Assistance Centers early in their career. These two-year tours provide Officers with the opportunity to gain unparalleled insight to the challenges facing small and medium-sized exporters as they enter new international markets. Working in an Export Assistance Center allows Officers to directly serve US&FCS clients as they develop and execute market entry plans using US&FCS products and services. As client managers, Officers hone their market research and analysis abilities, industry and market knowledge, and client development, counseling and service skills. Officers also have the opportunity to organize trade shows, VIP visits and other special events as well as participate in US&FCS's Global Teams, comprised of industry and regional experts.

A FCSO career is not for everyone. You must be able to withstand the stress of frequent relocation, be adaptable and sensitive to new cultures, comfortable living in a closed Embassy community, and accepting of a lifestyle that requires one to always be "on duty" as a representative of the United States Government. The demands on one's personal and family life should not be underestimated. FCSOs spend the majority of their careers overseas, far from home, and often in challenging environments. During a career, FCSOs can expect to serve in hardship posts. Spouses and other accompanying dependents may find their careers and/or schooling disrupted. Therefore, the decision to become a FCSO is one that should involve all members of your household.

Foreign Commercial Service Officer (FCSO) Eligibility

Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen;
  • Be between the ages of 21 and 59;
  • Be available for worldwide assignment and willing to relocate approximately every 3-4 years; and
  • Be able to obtain Medical and Top Secret Security Clearances and pass a drug test.

Successful candidates will have international trade experience that includes:

  • Assisting with the production of market analyses that form the basis of international business-related decisions.
  • Assisting with the development or implementation of an international trade and marketing strategy for a U.S. product or service which includes identifying target foreign markets, analyzing the potential of these markets, developing a business plan to successfully establish business operations, and promoting the product or service domestically or internationally.
  • Assisting in the planning and implementation of trade promotion events such as trade fairs or trade missions.
  • Assisting in the identification of market impediments or barriers to international sales and developing strategies to overcome them.
  • Actively participating in contacts with foreign governments or other organizations to influence the outcome of business activities between U.S. companies and foreign contacts.
  • Contributing to the analysis of commercial issues requiring trade, economic, or business knowledge of one or more geographic or political regions.
  • Legal casework focused on international business issues.
  • International finance in support of American companies.
  • Development work related to international trade and economic capacity building.

How to Apply:

The US&FCS typically opens the application process once every two years, however, may increase or decrease frequency, depending on staffing requirements. The application process consists of an online application and an in-person Assessment Center. Applicants must pass the initial online application process to receive an invitation for the one-day Assessment Center.

The 2014-2015 Recruitment Cycle is now open to accept applications during period of December 1-19, 2014.  To apply, please visit the USA Jobs website to submit your application.  Please read carefully to follow all the instructions on the USA jobs website and allow yourself several hours for the submission process.

Once you have submitted your application, a review of your resume and supporting documentation will occur to determine if you are qualified for the US&FCS. Applicant qualifications will be evaluated on the knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics in the FCSO competencies. If, after reviewing your resume and or supporting documentation, a determination is made that you have inflated your qualifications and or experience, you may lose consideration for this position. Please follow all instructions carefully. Errors or omissions may affect your eligibility.

The most qualified applicants will be invited to the US&FCS Assessment Center. The Assessment Center is a testing process consisting of an oral and written examination on subjects of general and commercial interest, including individual and group exercises. Candidates will be evaluated on five competency areas: leadership, management, intellectual, interpersonal, and communication. Candidates invited to the Assessment Center will receive more detailed information on the assessment process with their invitation. The testing process described in this announcement is an overview and subject to change.

Top candidates who pass the assessment center testing process are placed on a list called the Rank Order Register, which is valid for two years. The agency uses this Register to extend conditional offers of employment to candidates, as vacancies become available, pending the successful completion of a Top Secret security clearance, a medical clearance and drug testing.

FCSO Assignments

Career candidates that pass the Foreign Commercial Service Officer Assessment and are offered employment join the service as an entry-level FS-04 Officer and are directly assigned to their first tour U.S. or overseas.

As an Officer progresses through their career, the bidding process and Assignments panel determine all Commercial Service Officer assignments. Assignments are based on such factors as transfer eligibility; personal rank; language proficiency; requirements pertaining to hardship and domestic tours; requirements for substantial overseas service; and the expressed interest of the employee, including considerations of career and professional development. Career (tenured) and Career Candidate (tenure-track) US&FCS Officers formally express their preferences in the form of a “bid list”. However, the needs of the Service come first; and the US&FCS reserves the right to direct-assign an Officer to a position.

The standard tour of duty for each post varies from four years for non-hardship posts, to one to three years for posts in “hardship” locations. Regardless of the standard tour of duty for a post, all first-tour US&FCS Officers are assigned two-year tours of duty.

FCSO Career Advancement

FCSOs gain increasing responsibility as they rise through the ranks. Entry-level Officers typically supervise a small team of locally-employed staff while serving in the Commercial Section of the US Embassy. Mid-level Officers take on greater responsibility, possibly running their own sections as well as managing other American Officers. Senior Foreign Service Officers hold the US&FCS's highest leadership positions managing a diverse workforce in larger Embassies, Consulates and Headquarters.

Career Candidate US&FCS Officers are permitted a maximum of five years to be converted to Career status, or “tenured”. Career Candidates are expected to demonstrate professional competence, attested to in their performance evaluations, and proficiency in at least one foreign language. The recommendation to convert a Career Candidate to Career status is made by the Commissioning and Tenure Board.

Advancement as a US&FCS Officer is entirely dependent upon an Officer’s skills and aspirations. US&FCS Officers are eligible to enter the ranks of the Senior Foreign Service and the Ambassadorial Class. Promotions are merit-based and do not take into account length of service. Once converted to Career status , the “up or out” nature of the Service forces US&FCS Officers to continually demonstrate superior performance or risk being separated from the Service. The intent of this policy is to ensure the progressive advancement of highly skilled and talented employees through the ranks of the organization, and retain the expertise and experience of our most capable officers.

Pay & Benefits

The US&FCS recruits at the FS-04 Class. Class pay rates for the Foreign Service (FS) can be found on the State Department’s website at: http://www.state.gov/m/dghr/pay/. Starting Foreign Service salary step level is commensurate with experience. This is an entry level position in the Foreign Service as a career-candidate Commercial Officer leading to career status. Benefits include:

  • Comprehensive health, dental, and life insurance;
  • Paid sick leave and annual leave ten paid Federal holidays per year, as well as host country holidays as applicable overseas;
  • Retirement Benefits and Pension Plans;
  • Possible Overseas Allowance/Differential, housing assistance, and education assistance for dependents.

Dependents

Legal dependents planning to accompany an Officer to post must pass a physical examination and obtain a medical clearance. In rare cases, dependents may not be allowed to accompany the Officer because of dangerous conditions at post, or for reasons related to the results of the medical clearance conducted on the dependent in question. In cases where a dependent cannot or does not wish to accompany the Officer to post, a separate maintenance allowance may be available.

Many training and orientation resources are available to Officers’ legal dependents through the United States Department of State Overseas Briefing Center (OBC) (http://www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc/c6954.htm) and Family Liaison Office (FLO) http://www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo/). Please check the FLO website for information related to family support services, family member employment, and community liaison services.

Other Career Opportunities with Global Markets

Limited Appointments: Limited Non-career Foreign Service Officers ("Limiteds") are hired for specific duty stations and tours of duty based on specialized skill or experience that they possess. Limited Non-career Foreign Service Officers' first tours of duty are limited to two years. There is no promise, implicit or explicit, extension(s), or subsequent Limited Non-career appointment(s) at the end of the two years. Limiteds cannot serve with the US&FCS more than five consecutive years. These positions are advertised on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) website when available. You can access this website from the following link: www.usajobs.gov. Just click on the "search jobs" link, and conduct an agency search for Department of Commerce listings.

Civil Service: For a complete listing of all Civil Service positions with the U.S. Department of Commerce, please go to the USAJobs website, click on the “search jobs” link, and conduct an agency search for U.S. Department of Commerce listings. You can access this website from the following link: www.usajobs.gov.

Student Volunteer Internships: The purpose of the Student Volunteer Internship Program is to provide college or university juniors, seniors, and graduate students with “hands-on” experience working for US&FCS. The program is uncompensated and designed to encourage students to consider careers in the international business field. Internships are considered to be adjunct to an applicant’s education, and students may earn academic credit for this experience depending on their school’s policy. Students must be currently enrolled and taking at least one-half of a full-time academic workload. They must also plan to continue their education immediately upon termination of their internship.

Interns typically serve for one semester or quarter during their academic year, or for a minimum of 10 weeks during the summer. U.S. citizenship and good academic standing are required. In addition, internships are contingent upon the successful completion of a Security Assurance Check. While US&FCS Student Volunteer Internships are unpaid, students at our Headquarters location in Washington, DC may be eligible to receive transit benefits for the duration of volunteer service.

For More Information:

To sign up for the list serve to be notified of the FCSO vacancy announcement, potential applicants should click the envelope icon on the front website of trade.gov or email the CSCareers@trade.gov. For questions on applying during the application period of December 1-19, 2014, please contact the OPM Midwest Services Branch by Phone at: (816) 426-5706 or by Email at: KANSASCITY@OPM.GOV.