How to translate your skills from any jobs to diplomacy

Photo by Camila Ccordeiro

Photo by Camila Ccordeiro

Are employers looking for candidates with specific skill sets or experiences? The short answer is yes, but any job will equip you with the skills needed to break into this field. While an internship at the United Nations, consulate or embassy is impressive and may be useful to getting your foot in the door, not having these experiences will not automatically disqualify you. The challenge, however, is to persuade the organisation you are applying to why your existing skillsets are needed by them.

Find purpose in your job search and connect the dots for your potential employers by making it clear why you have made a transition to join them. The Grassroot Diplomat Online Academy has exactly the tools you need to turn your skills around for this field.  

What skills from other sectors are relevant to jobs in international affairs and diplomacy? It’s a well-kept secret, but employers really value and seek out candidates with skills that aren’t necessarily unique to the young professional with a UN internship under their belt.  

Let us consider the following case study.

A Communications Coordinator from WeWork, a co-working space for entrepreneurs and start-ups across the United States, is seeking to pivot into the field of international Relations. At face value, you may think that this transition would be difficult to sell. However, this candidate has skills that transfer well to a job search with a focus on diplomacy. Norwich University released a fantastic article about the conflict resolutions skills a diplomat needs to be successful in the field. Since the case study focuses on a professional with a background in communications, we will isolate and discuss three skills in particular: active listening, relationship building and written communication.  

The Communications Coordinator has acquired strong listening, teambuilding, and writing skills because it comes with the nature of their daily tasks and responsibilities. It is imperative for this candidate to tailor keywords such as “editing and writing” or “establishing partnerships” into their resume and cover letter in a way that connects the dots for the hiring manager reviewing their application. In other words, communications – whether you are a Communications Coordinator or not – is a crucial skill for the diplomatic field.

Ambassador Robert Blackwill, a member of the International Council at Harvard’s Belfer Center, wrote a piece explaining that writing “well and quickly” and being “verbally fluent and concise” are ideal traits that a diplomat should possess. You might be starting to detect a pattern. Communication skills, especially verbal, written, and negotiation skills, are powerful indicators and traits that are sought after in candidates. If you have specific examples to support your candidacy such as a recently published article or building a new partnership, you will likely meet the qualifications needed to convince the hiring manager.

To leave you with a final thought, let us assume this candidate decides to conduct a job search and the post of Research Specialist for the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy grabs their attention. After submitting a tailored and polished application, the candidate is invited to participate in a phone screen interview and gets asked the following question: What skills are you going to bring to this position?

How should the candidate on the other line answer this question?

Please add your comments below and let us know what you think!