Careers App
Office Management Specialist

United States Department of State
An Equal Opportunity Employer
How to Apply

Announcement No.:
Position Title: Foreign Service Office Management Specialist - Administrative Assistant
Open Period: 9-24-2014 — 10-08-2014
Series/Grade:FP - 0318 07
Salary: $34,667 - $50,910
Promotion Potential: FP-03
Hiring Agency: U.S. Department of State
Duty Locations: MANY Vacancies throughout the World, WW
For More Info: HR/REE/BEX-EVAL, 202-203-5161,

Who May Apply

All potential applicants are strongly urged to read this entire Vacancy Announcement to ensure that they meet all of the requirements for this position before applying.

Applicants must be American citizens and at least 20 years old to apply. They must be at least 21 years of age to be appointed. By law, all career candidates must be appointed to the Foreign Service prior to the month in which they reach age 60.

Duration Appointment

Permanent after being tenured in the Foreign Service by the Tenure Boards.

Marketing Statement

The Department of State is developing a rank-order list of eligible hires to fill entry-level Foreign Service Office Management Specialist vacancies. The specific number to be hired will depend on the needs of the Foreign Service.

Grade and Starting Salary Range: FP-07, $34,667 - $50,910

No applicant will be considered who has previously been separated from the Foreign Service under sections 607 (Retirement for Expiration of Time-in-Class), 608 (Retirement Based on Relative Performance), 610 (Separation for Cause), or 612 (Termination of Limited Appointment) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended, or who resigned or retired in lieu of separation under these provisions. In addition, no candidate will be considered who has previously been separated from the Foreign Service for failure to receive a career appointment under Section 306 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended, or who resigned or retired in lieu thereof. Specialists separated pursuant to these provisions may not re-apply to be a Foreign Service specialist in the same skill code, but may apply for another skill code (or to be a Foreign Service generalist).


The U.S. Department of State is the lead foreign affairs agency formulating and implementing the President’s foreign policy and representing U.S. interests throughout the world. Foreign Service Office Management Specialists (Administrative Assistants) serve at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide as well as a few domestic locations. Assignments can vary from working in a Political or Economic Section in one mission to working in the Management or Security Section in another. Future assignments can lead to the Executive Office and the position of Office Manager to an Ambassador overseas or to a high-ranking official in Washington, D.C. Whatever the position or nature of duties, Office Management Specialists will have a rich opportunity to make valuable contributions to their country while leading professionally and personally fulfilling lives.

The Foreign Service is more than a job – it’s a career. As a member of a diplomatic team, you will not only help to accomplish the mission of the Department of State, but also will be a representative of your country to the people of other nations. A Foreign Service career involves uncommon commitments and occasional hardships, as well as unique rewards and opportunities. A decision to enter this career should be based on extraordinary motivation and a firm dedication to public service.

Many overseas posts are in small or remote countries where harsh climates, health hazards, and other discomforts exist and where American-style amenities and the latest in technological advances often are unavailable. Personal security frequently becomes an area of concern in countries where there is political unrest or terrorist activity. However, careers in the Foreign Service offer special rewards, including the pride and satisfaction of representing the United States and protecting U.S. interests abroad.

The Foreign Service strives to maintain diversity in the representation of gender, geographic region, race and ethnicity within its work force.

Key Requirements

All applicants, in order to be considered for selection, must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Be at least 20 years old to apply and at least 21 years of age to be appointed. By law (Foreign Service Act of 1980), all career candidates (except for preference-eligible veterans)** must be appointed to the Foreign Service prior to the month in which they reach age 60.
  • Be available for worldwide service.
  • Be able to obtain a Top Secret Security Clearance.
  • Be able to obtain an appropriate medical clearance for Foreign Service work.
  • Obtain a Suitability Clearance, based on a review of the candidate's record for conduct in accordance with suitability standards defined in Chapter 3 of the Foreign Affairs Manual. For more details see or

** If 59 1/2 years of age or over and claiming 5 pt. veteran's preference, you must submit a copy of your DD-214. If claiming 10 pt. veteran’s preference, in addition to the DD-214, you must submit your VA letter and SF-15. (Required if preference eligible.)

NOTE: Individuals who have been found ineligible for employment by a Department of State Final Review Panel within the previous two years are ineligible to apply (unless the individual was a candidate for a Special Agent position with the Diplomatic Security Service and the decision to deny eligibility was based on the candidate’s inability to fulfill the unique duties of that position).

Major Duties

Foreign Service Office Management Specialists (Administrative Assistants) serve at U.S. embassies, consulates and other U.S. missions abroad as well as at the Department of State in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York, and the Florida Regional Center in Ft. Lauderdale.

Duties vary greatly depending on the size of the post and the particular position to which assigned. A strong command of the English language, superior office management skills, and in-depth knowledge of office computer software are essential for this position. The following list is neither exhaustive nor in priority order; however, basic duties may include the following:

  • Supporting Foreign Service Officers and Specialists, i.e. the Political, Economic and Regional Security Sections and, with sufficient experience, senior officials and ambassadors - tracks and supports meetings, event invitations, courtesy calls, visitors, phone bills, preparations for meetings; arranges travel, processes expense vouchers, etc.
  • Supporting representational events and visitors - helps plan events, tracks event budgets, monitors cash for events, monitors event supplies, coordinates event attendance, maintains event guest lists, receives and records visitors, serves as control officer, etc.
  • Preparing written materials - prepares briefing materials, drafts documents, facilitates agendas and follow-up from meetings, processes meeting notes, produces weekly activity reports, reviews newsletters, processes information requests, maintains procedure manuals, facilitates required reports, etc.
  • Supporting management staff - edits position descriptions, trains staff, supervises staff, tracks performance reviews, participates on committees, maintains databases on office and/or management issues, maintains databases on job bidders, supports time and attendance reporting, maintains leave information, supports temporary duty staff.
  • Supporting information technology and records - provides computer software support, maintains tasking system, maintains diplomatic note tracking system, supports the message tracking system, supports travel systems, uses electronic cable system, supports the embassy website, maintains biographic data, maintains files, supports funding systems, and supports other electronic record systems as needed.
  • Managing office - supports emergency response processes, ensures security of classified information, tracks office equipment maintenance, procures supplies, answers phone, distributes mail, etc.
  • Integrating with local culture - learns culture, develops relationships, participates in local organizations, etc.
  • Assisting other offices as necessary.

Foreign Service Office Management Specialists are frequently called upon to perform a variety of special duties in addition to regular functions. They are an essential part of an overseas mission. It is not uncommon to work extensive overtime because of the political climate of the host country, official visits or an unexpected event. On a rotating basis, Office Management Specialists may also be required to be on call after hours for a week at a time to provide urgent support to any office in the mission. At small posts, Office Management Specialists may also be required to serve as Information Management Specialists (handling official telegraphic messages and diplomatic pouches). Appropriate training is provided.



All Office Management Specialist candidates must meet one of the following requirements:

  1. A high school diploma or equivalent and three years of office management experience; OR
  2. a two-year college degree in Office Management, Business Administration, Computer Technology, Web Development or other related field together with two years of office management experience; OR
  3. a four year college degree together with two years of office management experience.

    Note: In all cases, the qualifying work experience must be strongly administrative in nature.

Education completed in foreign colleges or universities may be used to meet Federal job requirements for this position if the applicant provides a Foreign Evaluation Report, certifying that the foreign education is comparable to education received in the United States. It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide such evidence when applying for Federal jobs. To view how foreign education is evaluated for federal jobs, please visit


All qualifying work-related experience must be of a progressively responsible nature in the office management specialty. All such experience must have been performed within the last 10 years and must have been acquired from supporting one or more individuals. The experience must have been acquired in a position which required utilization of the knowledge of specific administrative functions in the employing organization(s) and which required a minimum of direct supervision. Positions that have a combination of secretarial, administrative assistant or office management components should be described with percentages attributed to the amount of time devoted to the various duties. (Failure to do so may delay application processing.) In the Civil Service these duties are represented by the GS-318 (Secretarial) job series.


Candidates will be evaluated on their total background including experience, education, awards, training, certifications and self-development as it relates to the position. Selection for this position will be made only from among candidates possessing the best qualifications. Part-time work experience will be prorated.


Applicants must demonstrate a strong command of the English language to include grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Applicants must have a demonstrated proficiency in commonly used Microsoft Office programs (such as Outlook, Word, Excel and Power Point). A Microsoft Office Specialist certification in Word 2010 is mandatory and must be received within 30 days after passing the oral assessment for a candidacy to continue.

The following knowledge, skills and abilities, and other requirements, have been identified as important to successful job performance as an Office Management Specialist based on extensive job analysis research. Not all of these attributes need to be met by a candidate; the attributes will be used as a set to evaluate candidates.

Knowledge - administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files/records/databases, transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology; office computer programs such as Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and SharePoint; structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar; and office equipment such as copiers, faxes, scanners, telephones, including Blackberry usage, basic computer hardware, as well as familiarity with social media platforms, etc. Basic knowledge of the U.S. Government including its structure and responsibilities is useful but not required.

Skills and Abilities - organizational, time management, problem solving, decision making, human relations, reading comprehension, service orientation, active listening, instructing, writing, persuasion, speaking, coordination, critical thinking, social perceptiveness, active learning, adaptability, professional standards, and cross-cultural.

Other requirements - worldwide available, tolerance of intensive world travel, living away from family, and working and living in difficult and/or isolated conditions.

Professional-level speaking ability in a foreign language, especially a world language or a critical need language (see web site for a list of critical need languages), while desirable, is not required for entry. However, it may be required for advancement to the highest ranks in the office management specialty.

How to Apply

We are not currently accepting applications for this position. Please subscribe to receive email updates for this position.

To apply, applicants must first register on USAJOBS at and create an online federal resume. Your online resume must be typed or you may cut and paste an existing resume into the space provided. Once you have completed the registration process, select the “apply online” button to the right. That button will transfer you to Gateway to State.

Follow the “apply online” instructions at Gateway to State by answering self-assessment questions for the specific job to which you are applying. When completed, the information you provided at USAJOBS and the answers to the Gateway to State questions will become your application. Your registration, resume, and responses to questions will be used to evaluate your qualifications for this job. In addition, you may need to fax or upload some information to complete your application package.

Please note: Your application is automatically saved as you proceed through it. You may interrupt your application process and return to it until you submit it.

The deadline to submit completed applications is Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 11:59pm EST. This includes submitting your online application as well as any required documents as defined in the Required Documents section. Please note that if you need technical assistance, HR/REE/BEX-EVAL offices close at 5pm and the Help Desk for technical assistance closes daily at 7pm EST. Applications submitted after the deadline due to problems contacting the Help Desk will not be accepted.

Due to the volume of applications, fax lines can become jammed and documents may not successfully attach to your application on the final days/hours of the application announcement. IT IS THE RESPONISBLITY OF THE CANDIDATE TO VERIFY THAT REQUIRED DOCUMENTS HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFULLY ATTACHED TO THE APPLICATION PRIOR TO THE CLOSING DATE. Applicants can do so by going back into your application and verifying that documents have been attached. Applications received without required documents will be deemed ineligible. You are encouraged to submit your application early, and to go back into your application to confirm that your documents have been attached.

Please be aware that the application time is short, so make sure that your application is complete and submitted on time.

If you are having technical difficulty with the application process, please contact the helpdesk by calling 1-866-656-6830 or by emailing

Required Documents

As part of the online application, applicants will be asked to submit the following required documents:

  1. A Completed Online Questionnaire and Autobiography.

    1. Supplementary Questionnaire:

      Purpose: The Supplementary Questionnaire inside the application provides an opportunity to describe examples and accomplishments from your education and life and work experience that show you have the qualifications listed above for the position of Office Management Specialist. Examples can be drawn from any part of your personal experience. The information you give may be used in your oral assessment/interview should you be invited and is an important factor in the competitive evaluation of applicants.

      Instructions: During the application process, you will find text boxes that allow you to individually address each of the numbered items listed below, limiting responses to 300 words or fewer (maximum length 2000 characters) for each item. Examples can be drawn from any part of your personal experience. You should compose your replies carefully, as one of the skills necessary to succeed as a Foreign Service Office Management Specialist is the ability to write clearly and concisely. If you compose your answers outside the application, please use notepad to reduce formatting errors.

      1. Solving a Practical Problem: Describe what you consider to be the best example of a situation where you had to find an innovative solution to a practical problem. Indicate who was affected by the problem and in what way, and the nature of the difficulties faced.
      2. Managing Office Duties: Describe your work experiences that demonstrate you have a high level of proficiency in performing administrative duties like managing files/records/databases, proofing text, processing documents, and maintaining office equipment.
      3. Organizing Your Own Work: Give an example of a situation where you had to plan, organize and prioritize your own work, particularly where you had to meet tight deadlines or work long hours. Indicate the complexity of the task you were organizing and the consequences if you had failed to meet your deadline.
      4. Handling Conflicting Priorities: Give one example which best illustrates a situation where you had to handle several different tasks at once and where it was important to ensure that the quality of your performance was maintained at a high standard. Comment on the pressure you were under and indicate any resources you used to help you prioritize tasks.
      5. Using Computers and Office Technology: Describe the experience you have in using technology like Microsoft office suite, databases and spreadsheets, electronic mail, graphics packages, etc. Provide a list of all systems with which you have expertise.
      6. Mixing Easily With Other People: What experiences have you had which suggest that you mix easily with people both within and outside your social or cultural group and with colleagues? Include information about your social and/or community activities.

    2. A Narrative Autobiography (two-to-three page typed equivalent - no more than 5000 characters) which discusses your:

      1. personal background,
      2. general comments on your work experience,
      3. personal interests, hobbies and travel, and
      4. motivation for joining the Foreign Service as an Office Management Specialist.

    There is a text box for the narrative autobiography included inside the online application.

  2. Fax or Upload College Transcripts:

    All applicants using college degrees to substitute as qualifying experience must submit their college transcripts, and if appropriate, a Foreign Evaluation Report certifying a foreign earned degree.

    Once you have completed the online questionnaire, applicants have the option to upload or fax their transcripts. To submit the transcripts by fax, applicants will be prompted to print out a fax coversheet once they have successfully submitted their application. Instructions for submitting these forms are included in the online application. The transcript must be faxed or uploaded before the closing date of this announcement, which is 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time.

    Important: Whether you upload or fax, please submit all your documents at the same time. If you must send any additional documents after your first submission, be sure to include your first group of documents along with the additional documents. This is because subsequent submissions erase prior submissions.

    For additional information please refer to our website at

    Both official and unofficial transcripts are acceptable as part of the application process. Web based, student academic progress reports, taken directly from the student portal, however, are usually insufficient. It is essential that your transcript includes your name, the school’s name, the degree and date awarded. Any transcript missing any of the key elements above will not pass the minimum qualifications and the candidacy will be ended. Therefore, we strongly recommend submitting your official e-transcript.

    If faxing, it is extremely important that only these system-generated cover sheets, and the phone number included on them, be used for faxing these documents. The cover sheets are coded to insure that your documents are automatically attached to your online application. Please ensure that each document is faxed separately with the appropriate system generated cover sheet.

    If uploading, please remember that multiple pages must be sent as a single document. Only the most recently uploaded documents will attach to your application. The most recently uploaded document will replace previously uploaded documents.

  3. If you are 59 1/2 years of age or over and claiming a 5 point veteran's preference, you must submit a copy of your DD-214 with your application.

    If you are claiming a 10 point veteran’s preference, in addition to the DD-214, you must submit your VA letter and approved SF-15 with your application. (This is required if you are preference eligible.)

  4. MOS Certification in Word 2010 (core level)

    A Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) credential in Word 2010 is mandatory. Those applicants who pass their oral assessment must submit their certification within 30 days of passing to, which has been set up for the sole purpose of receiving the certificates. If their MOS certificate is not received within 30 days of passing the oral assessment, their candidacy will not be continued. Testing centers for Microsoft certification can be found at

What to Expect Next

Once an applicant completes and submits an application, the status will appear as “referred” by USAJobs and your application is forwarded to the U.S. Department of State. Shortly after the vacancy announcement’s closing date, all “referred” applicants will be notified via e-mail from the U.S. Department of State of the status of their applications. Please note that the “referred” status on USAJobs will not be updated at any time throughout the entire evaluation process. It is not uncommon for several months to pass before the evaluation panels complete a full review of an applicant’s file. Due to the high volume of Foreign Service Specialist applicants and the thorough evaluation process, we ask all applicants to remain patient and await communication. We recommend adding the U.S. Department of State emails ( as an approved sender. Selected candidates will be notified of an oral assessment date and time at the Department of State, in Washington, D.C. Any potential scheduling conflicts can be handled at that time.

Please note all travel and other expenses incurred in connection with the oral assessment are the responsibility of the candidate.


Health and medical coverage, federal retirement benefits, generous paid leave, and an unprecedented chance to see the world and experience different cultures. Overseas benefits include paid housing or a housing allowance and paid education for dependent children between K-12.

Additional Benefits: Tax free housing overseas, tax free educational allowance, etc. (See Compensation and Benefits on our website at, for more information.)

Other Information

Initial Salary:

Newly-hired Office Management Specialist career candidates are assigned at the FP-07 level. The specific step (or salary) within that level will be determined at the time a firm offer of employment is made.

Current Federal Civil Service employees (or former employees) will also be assigned at the FP-07 level. Specific step (or salary) within the FP-7 level will be set at the nearest possible salary rate of the current (or previous) grade.

Any Foreign Service Specialist hired after October 1, 2013, who demonstrates FSI-tested Arabic language ability, will receive a one-time recruitment bonus.

After 18 months of service, FP-07 Office Management Specialist career candidates are administratively promoted to FP-06 upon confirmation that their performance has been satisfactory or better.

Competitive Promotion and Within-Grade Increases:

Promotion above FP-06 is competitive. FP-06 Office Management Specialists are considered for promotion annually in competition with other Office Management Specialists in their grade level. Promotions are given to those who have the best performance. Persons promoted are advanced to the next grade and receive additional salary equivalent to at least two within-grade increases.

Due to the limited number of yearly promotion opportunities, promotion panels select promotees based on published criteria and quality of performance. Performance is evaluated annually, in writing, by the supervisor.

In general, Foreign Service employees with documented satisfactory performance are eligible to receive within-grade step increases annually up through step 10 and biannually from step 10 through step 14. The normal career path envisions promotion to FP-03 during the course of a 20+ year career.


Office Management Specialist career candidates are considered for tenure (career status) after they have completed a minimum of two years in the Foreign Service. A Tenuring Board determines suitability based on a number of factors. If tenure is not granted during the first review, a second review will be made one year later. Failure to achieve tenure in the prescribed time frame of four years is grounds for separation.


Newly hired Office Management Specialist career candidates are initially assigned to Washington, D.C., for a three-week orientation followed by a three-week Office Management Specialist training class and a two-day security seminar. Additional training may include language training (depending on the requirements of the first overseas post), area studies (an intensive study of the region of assignment), etc.

Notification of the location of the first overseas assignment is made during the orientation. First and second overseas assignments are directed and will normally be for a period of two years each. Rarely, and only under extraordinary circumstances, would a newly-hired Office Management Specialist career candidate be given an assignment to a domestic (U.S.) location.

Please note all travel and other expenses incurred in connection with the oral assessment are the responsibility of the candidate.

Executive Branch agencies are barred by 5 US Code 3303 as amended from accepting or considering prohibited political recommendations and are required to return any prohibited political recommendations to sender. In addition, as mandated by 5 US Code 3110, relatives of federal employees may not be granted preference in competing for these employment opportunities.

It is the policy of the Federal Government to treat all of its employees with dignity and respect and to provide a workplace that is free from discrimination whether that discrimination is based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity or pregnancy), national origin, disability, political affiliation, marital status, membership in an employee organization, age, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors.

The Department of State provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodations for any part of the application or hiring process should so advise the Department at within one week of receiving their invitation. Decisions for granting reasonable accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis.

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