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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 April 2006, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
MI6 ad for 'operational officers'
MI6 headquarters
MI6 has been shrouded in secrecy for most of its history
Britain's Secret Intelligence Service - popularly known as MI6 - has launched its first public recruitment campaign.

A half-page advert in the Times careers supplement offers jobs for "operational officers", technology experts and "thoroughly efficient administrators".

It also features a montage of images including a gun, desert, jungle, plane, and the service's headquarters on the Thames at Vauxhall in central London.

MI6 has been shrouded in secrecy for most of its 97-year history

The organisation was not even officially acknowledged to exist until just over a decade ago.

But MI6 is now keen to emphasise it is no longer a place where promising Oxford and Cambridge graduates get a tap on the shoulder to join, but instead somewhere where people with a broader diversity of skills and backgrounds can feel comfortable about applying.

Pierce Brosnan played James Bond in Die Another Day, a Pinewood production
Staff who join SIS can look forward to a career that will have moments when the gap narrows just a little and the certainty of a stimulating and rewarding career which, like Bond's, will be in the service of their country
MI6

The advert is also due to run in the Economist magazine.

It says the agency operates around the world to make Britain "safer and more prosperous" and hires "people we can depend on because everyone in the UK depends on them".

The MI6 website gives further details outlining the different types of jobs performed and providing profiles of people's work understood to be based on real individuals.

All applicants must be British, resourceful, in good health and able to keep a secret.

"Operational officers" also need a university degree, strong intellectual skills, an interest in foreign cultures and an "outstanding ability to persuade and to influence".

But there is also the need for people with IT skills to deal with the complex forms of data analysis involved in counter-terrorism, as well as expertise in areas like human resources, accountancy and management to support the organisation's work.

However, opening up recruitment does create some dangers for the secret services. Unscrupulous individuals, journalists, or even al-Qaeda sympathisers could try and sign up but there will continue to be tight security checks to spot any unwanted attention.

Bond films

Those applying are also warned that they should not tell anyone other than a spouse or closer partner that they are putting their name in.

In the frequently asked questions section, there is even an acknowledgement of the Service's most famous member of staff.

In answering the question of how close the depiction of the Bond films to real life might be, the website says that the gap between truth and fiction had widened even further from the books in which "glamour and excitement" had been injected.

It adds that "nevertheless, staff who join MI6 can look forward to a career that will have moments when the gap narrows just a little and the certainty of a stimulating and rewarding career which, like Bond's, will be in the service of their country".




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