Graduate Opportunities


There are a broad range of junior management, policy analyst and specialist type roles in organisations across the Public Service that are typically of interest to graduates.

We are looking for top quality people, who are bright, enthusiastic and who have, through their studies and early career experiences, developed valuable skills that can be applied and enhanced further in the Public Service.

A key feature of our campaigns and intakes is the diversity of the people we tend to attract, which typically results in a rich variety of qualifications, experiences and perspectives that people bring to the table on joining the Public Service.

This section provides a quick overview of the range, types and features of some of the main entry levels for graduates into the Civil Service and other parts of the broader Public Service.



Range of opportunities

There are a great range of opportunities available to graduates within the Public Service. The key entry level grades for graduates in the Civil Service include the Executive Officer, the Administrative Officer and the Third Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and other professional roles such as Statistician, Economist and many more. The following chart might prove useful as it gives a good indication of the typical grade structures for the Civil Service.

 civil service grade structure

Local Authorities are then interested in recruiting graduates who possess particular qualifications, skills and competencies in areas such as Business, Project Management, HR, Strategy and Change Management, and Marketing.

Here we provide an initial overview of some of the key entry grades for graduates. Please note that further information on specific grades and roles will be available at the time of specific campaigns to fill roles.

The main entry grades detailed below

  • Civil Service: Administrative Officer (AO)
  • Civil Service: Professional Roles (e.g. Statistician, Economist etc)
  • Civil Service: Third Secretary
  • Civil Service: Executive Officer (EO)
  • Local Government: New Graduate Opportunities

Civil Service: Administrative Officer (AO)

The Administrative Officer (AO) is the main graduate recruitment grade for the Civil Service and provides successful candidates with the opportunity to progress to middle management. As an Administrative Officer, you would have a crucial role in policy and strategy formulation across the spectrum of economic, financial, international, environmental and social issues.

In recruiting for the Administrative Officer role, the Public Service is looking for people with the potential to take on high level responsibilities in the management of public services and the analysis of public policy issues. As the business, economic and social environment becomes more complex and demanding, there is an increasing need to ensure that a wider range of skills are available within Departments and Offices. Administrative Officers can play a crucial role in policy formulation, critical analysis, research and policy drafting for a wide range of governmental areas. Attention to detail, administration skills and the ability to think strategically are all crucial to the Administrative Officer role. If this sounds like something you would be interested in be sure to register on and set up a job alert for Graduate opportunities.


Civil Service: Professional Roles

Opportunities for almost all professional and specialist roles exist within the Public Service for graduates. These include roles for Statisticians, Economists, Trainee Auditors, Engineers, Architects, Scientists, to name just a few.

We will post more information about specialist and professional roles and opportunities as they arise, so be sure to regularly check out our vacancy pages for updates.


Civil Service: The Third Secretary

The Third Secretary is another graduate entry level role, but one that offers you the chance to enter upon a specifically diplomatic career. As a diplomatic officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs, you can be expected to be willing and able to travel or work abroad as required. Diplomatic Officers can be situated to work at both the headquarters in Dublin, and at one of our diplomatic missions abroad. During a career as a Third Secretary, postings to six or seven countries would not be unusual.

The work of the Third Secretary and of other diplomatic officers – both at home and abroad, is related to the main tasks of the Department of Foreign Affairs, tasks that might include: pursuing Ireland's foreign policy through the development of our bilateral relations with other States, promoting and protecting Ireland’s interests at the heart of the European Union, and promoting Ireland’s trade, investment and other interests, including its culture, in close co-operation with other Departments, State Agencies and the private sector.


Civil Service: Graduate Economist

The Graduate Economist is the typical entry level within the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service. IGEES is an integrated cross-Government service. Its purpose is to contribute to the better design and targeting of Government policy through economic analysis, evaluation, and statistical analysis. There are IGEES staff working in each Department adding their skill set to the varied expertise working on policy. IGEES offers wide ranging opportunities across central Government, with roles available in areas such as macroeconomic forecasting, expenditure analysis, public policy analysis, fiscal policy and sectoral areas including climate change and energy economics.

We are looking for high calibre graduates with a strong interest in the wider economic, political and social environment who are motivated to want to make a contribution to a well-run economy and society. Working in IGEES will allow graduates to work on real life policy issues using your skills set, development opportunities and work life balance. IGEES graduate economists have access to a tailored induction programme to introduce them to the skills needed for their role, as well as benefiting from the Civil Service graduate training programme. IGEES staff have access to a Continuous Professional Development Programme which draws on a mix of technical courses delivered in-house (from experts within the Service) and academic courses taught in the universities.

IGEES staff participate in structured mobility; working in IGEES roles across Departments to expand their experience and skill sets.


Civil Service: Trainee Auditor

The Trainee Auditor is the typical entry level within the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General for those who want to develop their skills and professional qualifications in Auditing. It is a very popular choice with business and finance related graduates, and with people interested in building their accountancy professional qualifications. As a Trainee Auditor you can expect to be working as part of audit teams which carry out the audits of public bodies, review internal control systems which are in place and participate in inspections and performance measurement reviews.

In recruiting for the Trainee Auditor, we are looking for people with strong analytical skills who take a planned and systematic approach to their work, can work under supervision or independently as required, and who give a high level of commitment including the ability to work under pressure to meet challenging deadlines. The role of a Trainee Auditor requires confidence, tact and assertiveness in dealing with others at various levels in audited bodies and you are required to adapt as it is often necessary to move from one audit body to another or from one type of work to another. If you feel this is the right position for you, make sure to keep an eye out for future campaigns.


Civil Service: The Executive Officer (EO)

The Executive Officer grade is the entry level to junior management in the Civil Service. Executive Officers are engaged in critical analysis of proposals and reports and in examining the more complex, non-routine cases on which decisions are required. Executive Officers are involved in a wide range of roles and activities, including:

  • Researching and drafting proposals relating to policy issues and legislation;
  • Acting as junior managers in Government Departments;
  • Responsible for managing operations and, after some experience, large numbers of people and other resources;
  • Dealing directly with the public in support of services provided to them by the Civil Service.

Executive Officers are employed in all Government Departments/Offices covering a wide range of functional responsibilities. If you enjoy working with people, have management skills and are detail-orientated, a position as an Executive Officer could be the ideal role for you.


Local Government: New Graduate Opportunities

Local Authorities are always looking for people with the potential to contribute to the management of public services. As the business, economic and social environment becomes more complex and demanding, there is an increasing need to ensure a wider range of skills is available. Local Authorities will be recruiting people who possess particular qualifications, skills and competencies in areas such as:

  • Business
  • Project management
  • Strategy and Change management
  • HR
  • Communications and Marketing

What are we looking for


Administrative Officers/Executive Officers

In recruiting Executive Officers and Administrative Officers for the Civil Service, the Public Appointments Service is conscious of the fact that many of the senior positions in the Civil Service will, in time, be filled by people recruited at this level.

For this reason, we look for people who show the potential to take on high level responsibilities in the management of public services and the analysis of public policy issues.

On occasions we may look for ‘Generalists’ where campaigns are open to candidates coming from any discipline or degree background.

On other occasions we may go to the market looking for people with particular degree backgrounds and some initial work experience, in for example HR, Law, Finance etc.

The competencies we look for in candidates for these roles can always be found in the information booklet for each given campaign. Please see below for an example detailing the competencies required for the Administrative Officer role.

In addition to having gained a strong track record of achievement, effective candidates for our graduate positions should demonstrate:

  • excellent communication (oral and written), presentation and interpersonal skills;
  • the capacity to carry out research, analysis and problem solving;
  • experience of effective team-working and delivering to tight deadlines;
  • the capacity to work in a multidisciplinary environment and exhibit leadership potential;
  • the capacity to show initiative while working with minimal supervision;
  • evidence of working on projects and producing results within budget and deadlines.

Third Secretary 

Particular qualities are also required in ones professional life as a diplomatic officer. Working in a mission abroad may be particularly challenging (many missions have only two diplomats), and, as such, an officer must display a high degree of resourcefulness, organisational ability, flexibility and alertness to opportunities to advance and protect Ireland’s interests. The day-to-day challenges will range from organising high-level Irish Government visits to assisting Irish citizens in difficulties abroad. Given the requirement to serve over a period of time in different countries, a Third Secretary must also, in the first place, have a high degree of adaptability and a willingness to work in foreign languages.

The competencies we look for in candidates for these roles can always be found in the information booklet for each given campaign. The required competencies for EO, AO and Third Secretary candidates from recent campaigns are summarised below:


Is this the job for you?

Are you ready for a quick test to see what level of ‘fit’ you may have for the typical requirements of a graduate role in the Public Service? This is a short ‘self-scoring’ questionnaire that will only take a few minutes of your time. There are 30 questions covering areas such as analysis, dealing with people, getting things done and your interest in current affairs and politics in general.

Sample questions:

  • I get real satisfaction from analysing complex issues
  • I am good at pulling together information to form a persuasive argument
  • I am good at communicating clearly and confidently with groups of people
  • I am good at asking the right questions in order to get the complete picture
  • I always take the initiative and push things forward
  • I like to keep up to date with current affairs issues both home and abroad

Please click on the links below to download our questionnaire which encourages you to review how your interests, skills and experiences match the challenging requirements at Administrative Officer level in the Civil Service or at Third Secretary level in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade:

You may also find it useful to look at our advice and tips in the ‘Interview Advice’ in our Information Hub.


Learning and Development

It has become clear over recent years that the success and efficiency of the Public Service begins with our people, and that the development of individual employee skills needs to be at the core of our strategy to ensure the continued advancement of the Public Service.

The public expect the best results and service provision from the Public Service. To achieve and maintain this, the Public Service needs to be focused on corporate and individual skills development, and in particular identifying training to meet the changing business needs, and preferred professional development opportunities of employees, specific to the particular organisation.

As a result of this requirement, there have been a number of excellent initiatives put in place recently to facilitate the development of graduate entrants, including the Civil Service Graduate Development programme (in collaboration with Think People) and the Local Government Graduate Programme (in collaboration with the Institute of Public Administration). Excellent Continuous Professional Development (CPD) supports are now also in place for graduates entering professional streams such as economists in the Irish Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES) and Trainee Auditors.

While different, these development programmes similarly offer new graduate employees the opportunity to up-skill through high-quality, structured training programmes, team projects and other development supports, with the intention of preparing new entrants for their given role while also providing a solid and valuable foundation for their future careers.

What you might expect to experience

The Training/Development opportunities you might experience in the Public Service depend on several things, including the specific role you have been offered, the Organisation/Department you have been placed in, and the skills required to carry out your job in the role. Depending on the role, as a graduate, you could expect to advance your personal skills in a wide range of different ways, and you could have the opportunity to up-skill and develop yourself professionally through high-quality training programmes, mentoring and support systems, internal training, and many more initiatives– all in order to make sure you have the skills and knowledge required to succeed in a fast-paced and results-oriented role in the Public Service.

Here are three examples of some of the great programs in the Civil and Public Service: