Raphel "began her career with the federal government as an economic analyst for the CIA before moving to the U.S. Agency for International Development as an economic/financial analyst in Pakistan. She rejoined the State Department in 1978, working in the Office of Investment Affairs in the Economic and Business Bureau on the Israel Desk. Raphel then served as staff aide for the assistant secretary for the Near East and South Asian Affairs Bureau and as special assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs. In 1984 she was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in London where she covered the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia, and Africa." 
She then worked as Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa (1988-1991), and at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India (1991-1993) and the State Department's first Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs from 1993 to 1997. She was United States Ambassador to the Republic of Tunisia from 1997-2000.
- Advisory Board, Dialogue International
- Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, "Former Ambassador to Tunisia to Discuss Issues Facing Contemporary Afghanistan", Press Release, 2001.
- "Amb. Robin L. Raphel. Member, Iraq Reconstruction Team: Career diplomat", accessed October 2005.
- "US Diplomat Points to Neocon Ideology Behind Actions in Iraq", Common Dreams, October 22, 2005. (This is a republication of an Agence France Presse article).