Moving into different roles / internal permeabiity

charliesanfran_... Wed, 08/19/2020 - 16:08


I am wondering if you can say something to this question:  if I should be so lucky to be successful in the secretaries' competition and receive an assignement, is it still possible to also apply to other competitions, like for the administrators, once they are published?  How about CAST assignments in different roles?  How is the general permeability of the internal job search once one is inside?  

Thank you!



Hello Charlotte,

Somedudereplyingtoquestions Thu, 08/20/2020 - 14:08

Hello Charlotte,

Concerning your 1st question on the eligibility for different competitions – Passing an SC competition and working as an SC in the institutions does not constitute an exclusion criteria to apply for other competitions, provided you meet the eligibility criteria of the notice of competition of the respective competition for which you apply. I have never seen yet a notice of competition that would have an exclusion criteria based on having passed another competition or already having a specific job within the institutions. In practical terms, this means that if you pass an SC-1 or SC-2 competition and you get a job in the institutions in this function group, you can for example still apply for SC competitions for a higher grade, AST competitions, AD competitions or CAST job profiles – always provided that you meet the criteria spelled out in the notice of competition.

Concerning your 2nd question on the general permeability of the internal job search – I can only reply from my personal experience as well as what I have heard from colleagues. There seems to be the general impression that once you land a job in the EU institutions, it will be easier for you to get a higher function group or permanent job position. As usually, this depends.

Internal competitions
It may be true if you have a CAST or Temporary Agent position. In such a case you may be eligible to take part in an internal competition – which may increase your chances of passing a competition, as there may be less applicants than for instance for the AD Generalist competition. However, this is of course no guarantee. In addition, it is worth mentioning that there are also eligibility requirements for those respective internal competitions. For instance, there may be an internal competition for permanent AD positions – but they may be likely only open to AD Temporary Agents and CAST IV staff members. I think one of the past years’ internal competitions may have had such a restriction. If I recall correctly, this year’s internal AD competition is not even open to CAST IV staff members. What does this mean for SC positions? It will depend on respective internal competitions – there may be internal AST competitions for SC staff members.

Certification procedure
There is also an internal procedure for AST staff members to become AD members called (I think) certification procedure – however, this is a procedure strongly limited in numbers. I do not know whether there is such a procedure for SC staff to become AST staff. I think I have not seen something like this yet.

Trying to get another position, once you’re “inside”
In some cases, people try to land a secretarial position within the institutions (whether CAST I or perhaps II, or SC positions) just to “get inside” hoping that this will pave the way for positions that may involve more project or policy related work. This may work but may also not work.

I know personally a few cases from people who started as a Blue Book Trainee, stayed for 6-12 months as an Intérimaire doing secretarial work and then later on landed a CAST III position. I also know cases of people who did a CAST I or II job and/or later on an SC position, but struggled to get another position because their work experience in the past time was limited to secretarial and administrative work and they would compete for policy related job vacancies with people outside the EU institutions who gained relevant project or policy related work experience. I recall one colleague’s specific case who had a CAST I or II position doing secretarial work and having a law degree. This person tried to get a job within the institutions more in line with their legal educational background but did not manage. Eventually, this person left the institutions and has had a very successful career as a lawyer.

To sum up
Whatever decision you may take, it depends on what you would like to achieve for your professional career, the risks you’re willing to take and the opportunity cost of your decisions. Of course you can still gain work experience beyond secretarial or administrative work on an SC or CAST I position. This depends on whether you yourself want this, your unit and your boss, ie whether they are willing to assign different tasks to you which may help you in your professional development.

I hope that answer can be helpful to you. Sorry, it got a bit lengthy.

Dear "Dude",

charliesanfran_125446 Thu, 08/20/2020 - 16:16

Dear "Dude",

Thank you so very much for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully and thoroughly.  This is really, really helpful and very much appreciated!!!

All the Best,



adriansanz180900_170786 Fri, 03/29/2024 - 16:31

Hello, Somedudereplyingquestions,

I would like to ask you a few more questions about the geographic mobility once being an European Adminsitrator. First of all i little bit of context: My name is Adrian and I just graduated from Law and Buisness Administration in my home country, Spain. I always liked the european union and the fact of working as an Administrator is really apelling to me. For this reason I was thinking about applying to be an AD5 generalist. However, I have a few concerns about the geographical mobility:

1. The geographical mobility is a possibility? I mean, imagine that i pass through the selection process and they hire me at the ECA. After 4 yerars working and ECA and as a AD6, i want a  change of sceneary trying to work into another agency, insitution or delagation inside ot outside Europe where is a vacancy with the same "responsability" as mine.It is possible or are you bounded for life to the same institution?

2. If so, How this vancancy process works? There are vacancies reserved for current EU administrators  with an special or internal selection process or do you have to pass the same process as non EU-staff, just like if you are hired as an Administrator for the first time?

3. The "experience". Ok, as i said, I (hipotetically) have worked for 4 years at the ECA and now i want to try another work at the European Delegation in South Korea or at the Intelectual Ofice Property in Spain or whatever other european institution or agency. However, I dont have a relevant experience in the fields that these agencies work (intelectual property or international relationships) because I've only worked for the TCA. So would I be still suitable for this vacancy as I have experience working for the EU or as , I don't have experience on these specific fields I wouldn't be able to apply to it?


Thak you :) 


Hello Adrian! Congrats on

Somedudereplyingtoquestions Sat, 04/06/2024 - 16:03

Hello Adrian! Congrats on your graduation. I try to reply to your questions.

1) Once you passed a competition to become an official (even if a specialised competition or a competition for one EU institution specifically) - and as mentioned in your example - after having worked eg in the ECA for a few years, you are free to apply for vacancies in other EU institutions, advisory bodies, EU delegations or Commission representations in EU Member States. So you are not bound to a specific institution as an official. From what I know, it is a bit different for EU agencies. There it depends on the type of vacancies. In many cases, jobs in agencies are temporary agent or contract agent positions. You could apply for a temporary agent vacancy in an EU agency, but from what I know you would put on hold your job as EU official. This may not apply to (all) higher ranking, i.e. management jobs in EU agencies. Not 100% sure about this, but this is what I think I am aware of. Perhaps someone else on the forum has more insights on this.

2) Once you are an official, you can apply for any other vacancy in an EU institution, advisory body, etc. You do not redo the EPSO tests. Usually, there is no new competition in such cases apart from the application procedure which consists of 1-2 interviews and in some cases of a written assignment (e.g. some short drafting task). There may be however a sort of competition procedure once you apply for management jobs (e.g. Head of Unit, Director) where you may have to undergo some CBT or assessment centre.

3) Applying for vacancies as an official within the EU institutions, advisory bodies, etc. is actually similar to the private sector. A hiring unit seeks the best suitable candidate that is able to meet the requirements to fulfil tasks relevant for the job. It depends on your profile and who else is applying. Coming back to your example, if e.g. you apply for a job for the EU Delegation in Seoul, let's assume as a Trade Officer, without relevant experience and compete against other EU official candidates who have experience in trade policy, trade negotiations and/or knowledge in Korean, it will be difficult. However, there are always transferable skills and also different job profiles in EU delegations. You may have acquired some skills and knowledge that could be useful for the vacancy that you applied for. Maybe there is some overlap between your eg hypothetical work at the ECA and trade policy, work with third country audit authorities or some other relevant policy knowledge that can come in handy. Maybe the vacancy in an EU delegation is actually for a financial officer where audit experience and knowledge of EU financial regulation comes in super handy. It always depends.

Usually, during most job assignments in EU institutions you will be able to acquire knowledge and skills that can be useful and transferable between different job profiles. E.g. from work as an auditor, to work as a financial officer, to work as a programme manager, to work as a policy officer in relevant policy fields, etc. etc. You can of course always acquire specific relevant knowledge outside your work to help you reorientate your career. However, always keep in mind the following - if a hiring unit cannot find a suitable candidate (even if officials had applied), the vacancy can be transformed into a temporary agent position. This makes it easier for the unit to hire someone beyond the pool of officials. This is however extremely rare and has to be duly justified by the hiring unit.

Having said all of this, I think you can have a varied career as an EU official. I know a few cases like this. But you need to be realistic. Sometimes you may have to plan an intermediary step in your career. If you come from an area that has little overlap with the usual core business of e.g. EU delegations, you may have to first seek a job in Brussels in one of the so called "Relex" services (INTPA, ECHO, NEAR, ~TRADE, EEAS). Same applies for other areas beyond e.g. external relations and EU delegations. If it is your dream to work in the Commission's spokesperson service without having any relevant background whatsoever, you may likely have to start gaining some communication related experience first.

A varied career in the EU institutions is encouraged and possible.

Hope the info helps!