Russian Language Specialist Ref.3197

Mind Achieving Impact AwardSocial Mobility Foundation AwardThe Times Top 100Disability confident leaderThe Prince's Responsible BusinessStonewall Top Employer 2020

Cheltenham, Manchester, Scarborough
Full-time and part-time opportunities (flexible working hours available)
£34,663 - £41,003 dependent on location

Working pattern: We support full time, part time, compressed, and flexible hours. Remote and homeworking is not available in London. There are limited opportunities for homeworking in Cheltenham, Manchester and Scarborough, but the role is mainly office based.

Your knowledge of Russian could open up a career in intelligence. Join us and you’ll enjoy work which is unique, varied and far from average and you’ll provide essential support to our mission.  

About Us

MI6 and GCHQ are part of the UK’s Intelligence Services. We work together to safeguard Britain’s people, interests, and businesses from various threats at home, overseas and online, including cyber-attacks, espionage, terrorism, and organised crime. Working across our vital missions, you’ll deliver impact at the heart of national security, all within a supportive and inclusive environment that allows everyone to thrive. 

About the Role

What mark would you give your Russian? If you answered "пятерку", then have you ever thought about how your language skills could help keep people safe? As a Russian Language Specialist at the UK’s Intelligence Services, your knowledge of the Russian language, as well as your in-depth understanding of Russian culture, ideology and politics will be significant in helping us to protect the UK and its interests.

With an adept knowledge of Russian Language and culture, you’ll be able to identify the nuances of, and seek out key information from spoken and written materials, contextualise it, and make it accessible and understandable to others. And, every step of the way, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to develop your own career path, focusing on the areas that interest you most. Whatever you’re doing, you’ll enjoy varied, and rewarding work using language skills in a supportive and encouraging environment that puts the emphasis on teamwork.

At MI6, you’ll be part of a multi-disciplinary team and play an active role in directing projects and driving forward investigations. It’s rewarding work, which will draw on your judgement, people skills, as well as linguistic and cultural expertise. Confident reading, writing, speaking, and listening to Russian, you’ll do everything from translation and interpretation to operational work that includes planning, casework, and training.

At GCHQ, you’ll combine language and technical skills to piece together snippets of information, collected from a variety of digital communication sources. Working in a diverse team of experts, you’ll apply analytical skills and an understanding of communication technologies to build up the intelligence picture. Your language skill and cultural knowledge will help identify reportable intelligence and progress operations, as well as help shape and influence government policy.

About You

You don’t need any experience or qualifications to be a Russian Language Specialist with us, but you do need strong language skills, excellent written English, and thorough knowledge of Russian culture, history, religion, and politics. Essentially, you’ll be passionate about the language and a proficient user (at C1 level, see explanation below) of Russian in all its forms. Your proficiency could come from growing up in a multi-lingual family, undergoing language training in the military, or studying Russian to a high level academically.

At C1 level or higher, you’re able to:

  • Understand a wide range of longer and more demanding texts or conversations.
  • Express ideas without too much searching.
  • Effectively use the language for social, academic, or professional situations.
  • Create well-structured and detailed texts on complex topics.

You can also access the CEFR self-assessment grid for more information on our requirements.

Whichever organisation you join, we’re looking for resilient problem solvers with innate curiosity, who are attentive to small detail and have strong interpersonal skills.

You also need:

  • An analytical, enquiring mind.
  • Good judgement and effective people skills. 
  • A collaborative approach, as you’ll share your knowledge and contribute to professional standards of best practice.

During the interview process, we’ll assess your language skill via a number of translation and transcription tests. Put yourself to the test and see if you’ve got the potential we’re after, have a listen to a Russian audio clip here. If you can understand most of what’s said, we strongly encourage you to apply!

Training and Development

At MI6 and GCHQ, we have an inclusive and supportive working environment that’s designed to encourage open minds and attitudes. We value and nurture talent and we’re committed to ensuring you have the support and guidance to build a rewarding career at the heart of national security. From language events and workshops, through to acquiring professional qualifications, our strong learning culture will continuously develop you, your knowledge, and skills.

By joining MI6 or GCHQ, you’ll be joining a network of colleagues who work across the Intelligence community. This widens our perspectives, enhances our abilities, creates an open culture, and enables us to be more effective in our work.

As part of the selection process for MI6, we’ll identify specific areas for development and tailor a training plan to meet your needs. When you join, you’ll have an induction and be assigned a buddy from the same language area to help you settle in. You’ll also be paired up with a profession head to oversee your career interests. You’ll receive training in applied skills, such as interpretation, and gain access to a range of language and non-language training opportunities, including our corporate academy.

GCHQ has an equally strong development offering. You’ll work alongside and learn from a community of language experts who’ll share their knowledge and encourage your contributions. Along with being assigned a buddy on day one, you’ll undertake a comprehensive induction package that spans multiple areas of the business, providing you insights into how we use the Russian language in our work. Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) qualifications can be attained, and you’ll also have opportunities to upskill, which in turn will attract financial rewards.

Whatever your career path, you’ll be part of a community of passionate, dedicated, and talented language specialists, working together on critical work you won’t find elsewhere.

Rewards and Benefits

At MI6, you’ll receive a starting salary of £39,938 with the possibility to qualify for additional language allowances once in role.

At GCHQ you’ll receive a starting salary of £34,663. Upon successful completion of the 6-month probationary period you’ll be eligible for an additional annual payment of £3,000 in recognition of your language skill.

  • 25 days’ annual leave, automatically rising to 30 days after 5 years' service, and an additional 10.5 days’ public and privilege holidays.
  • Opportunities to be recognised through our employee performance scheme.
  • Opportunities to work flexibly, subject to business needs.
  • Interest-free season ticket loan (travel and parking GCHQ only).
  • Excellent pension scheme.
  • Cycle to work scheme.
  • Facilities such as a subsidised gym and restaurant, and on-site coffee bars.
  • Paid parental and adoption leave.

Equal Opportunities

At MI6 and GCHQ diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission. To protect the UK, we need a truly diverse workforce that reflects the society we serve. This includes diversity in every sense of the word: those with different backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, ways of thinking and those with disabilities or neurodivergent conditions. We therefore welcome and encourage applications from everyone, including those from groups that are under-represented in our workforce such as women, those from an ethnic minority background, people with disabilities and those from low socio-economic backgrounds.   

Find out more about our culture, working environment and commitment to diversity on our websites:

We're Disability Confident

MI6 and GCHQ are proud to have achieved Leader status within the DWP’s Disability Confident scheme. This is aimed at encouraging employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain, and develop disabled people. Being Disability Confident, we aim to offer a person-to-person interview to any candidate who self-identifies as disabled and meets the essential criteria for the role. This is our ‘Offer of Interview’ (OOI). To secure an interview for this vacancy, the essential criteria (in order of application process) are: 

  • Demonstrate a strong motivation and commitment to work for the UK Intelligence Agencies, assessed at application form sift.
  • Demonstrate a high level and knowledge of the Russian language and achieve a pass in the language tests.

What to Expect

Our recruitment process is fair, transparent, and based on merit. Here is a brief overview of each stage, in order:

  • Initial application and eligibility sift.
  • In-person language tests in London.
  • An in-person interview and analysis test in Cheltenham or London.

You may also be required to undergo a hearing test for this role.

Please note, you must successfully pass each stage of the process to progress to the next. Your application may take around 9 - 12 months to process including vetting, so we advise you to continue any current employment until you have received your final job offer.

We regret that we are unable to reimburse travel expenses.

In MI6 there are opportunities for overseas travel and postings – we’ll make every effort to ensure personal circumstances are taken into consideration when an opportunity arises.

Please note, all MI6 and GCHQ contracts include a mobility clause. This means you could be liable to serve away from your usual place of work for periods of detached duty or training.

Before You Apply

To work at MI6 or GCHQ you need to be a British citizen or hold dual British nationality. You can read our full eligibility criteria here

This role requires the highest security clearance, known as Developed Vetting (DV). It’s something everyone in the UK Intelligence community undertakes. You can find out more about the vetting process here

Please note we have a strict drugs policy, so once you start your application, you can’t take any recreational drugs and you’ll need to declare your previous drug usage at the relevant stage.

Before you apply, we advise you to consider setting up a separate email address for your contact with us, to ensure your personal and application correspondence remain separate.  Try to avoid having identifying features in your email address, such as your first and/or surname and date of birth.  This is good practise and will help you to manage your application with us more discretely.

The MI6 role is based in London, so you’ll need to live within a commutable distance. Please consider any financial implications and practicalities before submitting an application. An interest-free loan via our benevolent fund is available to assist with relocating into privately rented accommodation to take up the offer of employment.

The GCHQ role is based in Cheltenham, Manchester, or Scarborough so you’ll need to live within a commutable distance. Please consider any financial implications and practicalities before submitting an application, as we do not offer relocation costs.

Please note, you should only launch your application from within the UK. If you are based overseas, you should wait until you visit the UK to launch an application. Applying from outside the UK will impact on our ability to progress your application. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member. 

Right to Withdraw Statement:  

Please be aware that we withhold the right to bring forward the closing date for this role from the original closing date once a certain number of applications have been received. Please be mindful of this and submit your application at your earliest convenience to avoid disappointment.  

This Program / Vacancy is closed to applications.