How to Get A Job With The United Nations
The U.N. is an international employer with opportunities for advancement and career variety comparable to those found in national private companies. Finding out about vacancies at any of these organizations can be the hardest part of the job. This is a resource to help you jump ahead and towards success in obtaining a United Nations career opportunity.
NOTE: This article does not guarantee in any way that you will receive a job offer; it is only a resource to help you in pursuing jobs at the United Nations.
There are different categories of United Nations (UN) employment. Experience and salary are based on "grades" and "steps". Employees are separated into three categories:
D-staff - directors who are expected to have a Ph.D. and extensive background in their area as well as general management in a large organization.
P-staff (Professional) - professionals with a MA or at least a graduate degree and several years experience.
G-staff (General Service) - general staff who make up most of an organization's staff.
UN organizations have country quotas that restrict how many people they can hire from each country and may give preference to applicants from under-represented nations. If you have dual citizenship or you are a national of a country besides the US, UK, or Canada be sure to state this on applications.
Design a plan - the waiting process to hear back from a hiring manager can be weeks or even months. While waiting to hear back from a hiring manager (if you are contacted as a qualified applicant) continue to improve your qualifications. Prior to any job search with the UN you will need to create a UN Profile. This can be updated at any time. You may wish to create one now even though you don’t have plans current plans of pursuing a UN position for a few years. Your profile doesn’t expire and it could make the process easier if you continue to update while in building quality qualifications.
One of the most important qualifications for any U.N. position is fluency in English and anther language. Knowing one of the organization's 'working languages' besides English is an asset. In Geneva the working languages are English, French, and Spanish. If you are a beginner but willing to improve your language skills be sure to mention it since the UN provides free language classes to both short and long term staff. Fluency in additional languages, particularly Arabic, Chinese, or Russian may give you an extra star next to your name.
Some G-staff positions such as clerical or secretarial jobs in the General Service category require only a high school diploma. But in order to be promoted into Professional Service category you must have a bachelor’s degree. General Service category positions are perfect for summer jobs and to test the waters as an intern.
Last but definitely not least.
Applying for UN positions requires dedication, time and a lot of paperwork. Be prepared to fill out more than one (probably more than three) applications.
Registering & Creating A UN Profile
In order to apply to a vacancy, you must:
2. Complete the Personal History Profile (PHP)
3. Review and apply online using the Vacancy List
4. Submit your application for the vacancy selected by clicking on Apply Online
Basic information such as name and password
Personal History Profile (PHP)
Click on ‘Create Personal History Profile’. You must create a Personal History Profile before clicking on ‘Find a Vacancy Announcement’. The PHP has seven tabs and each one must be filled out completely in full. If you do not have a minimum of one hour to complete the profile than save your profile and return to the profile when you have a minimum of one hour to dedicate to the profile.
Before filling out this form have all of your information available within hand’s reach to easily fill out the information.
What is needed?
- Education with years and location address and any earned certifications
- Significant publications you have written – when and by whom were they published?
- Employer information – when, where, how long, title, contact information
You can update your profile at any time whether you logged in one day ago or four months ago. You should always review and update your Personal History Profile (PHP) before reviewing and applying for any vacancies. When you apply for a vacancy, a snapshot of your current Personal History Profile (PHP) is attached to that vacancy.
Some positions in the General Service category, will require applicants to take a competitive recruitment examination.
“Candidates interested in obtaining a position in the General Service category, such as secretarial and clerical positions, Word processing, accounting and statistical positions must have successfully passed the required relevant test(s) before they may be considered for recruitment. A high school diploma or equivalent is required. Those who are successful in the test are considered for available vacancies.” – United Nations Human Resources FAQ
Examinations - In order to take an examination you will need to fill out anther (different) application. This application is to apply to take the examination. As with all applications read the instructions fully. The examinations have deadline dates and you must submit your application prior to the date. In addition to your examination application, you may be required to submit copies of your right to work in the country you are applying for as well as a written essay demonstrating your communication skills.
After you have completed a Personal History Profile (PHP) click on Find a Vacancy Announcement
Browse through the United Nations website to view what area / department you would like to apply for.
Words of Wisdom
Consider each and every position carefully. Read all of the responsibilities and required skills. Do not apply for several vacancies. If you apply for an open position that you are not qualified for the hasty decision will reflect poorly on your judgment abilities and might reflect negatively on your credibility. Yes, they do indeed keep a history of which positions you apply for.
Personal History Profile (PHP) Be very, careful in filling out your application. Check for spelling errors twice and you may even want a second person to check it for you to catch any misspellings or grammar typos you may have missed. Thousands of people are creating Personal History Profiles. Hiring Managers don’t have time to review every single profile in detail. That means any little slip-up is an excuse to eliminate your application.
DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: Open
DUTY STATION: New York
- If you live in California and the job is listed in New York and you don’t intend to move to New York – Do not apply.
DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: 23 Sep 2007
DATE OF ISSUANCE: 24 Aug 2007
- If the deadline date for application is 23 Sep 2007 do not wait until 23 Sep 2007 to apply. On time is late. Late applications will not be considered at all.
Education Advanced university degree (Master's degree or equivalent) in business administration, finance, accounting or related fields.
- Always make sure to read Qualifications. If you do not meet the qualifications do not apply, this demonstrates negative creditability and poor judgment.
How to apply
The U.N. does not accept resumes unless otherwise noted, you must use the online application system to apply for vacancies. When an email is included. Do not send all of your information in the body of the email or an attachment of your resume. Use the email as a way to introduce yourself and your interest in the career position for which you are applying. Always use ‘Apply Online’ which will send the hiring manager your current Personal History Profile (PHP).
Now it’s time to wait. Don’t sit at your computer waiting for an email inviting you to an interview. Only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted, and this can take weeks. Be patient. You can check the status of your application in the “Application History” of your “My UN” account.
The reality is that people who get jobs in the U.N. frequently know people within the organization. Use business social networking communities as a way to reach out and meet others who work for United Nations or work with vendors / business associations that do business with the UN. However, don’t kiss up, become a genuine resource and or business friend when trying to meet potential connections.
Do Your Research
Be aware that working for the United Nations may not necessarily be the challenging, glamorous, “save the world” job you think it is. Do your research and read articles about United Nations online, keep track of what they are doing around the world and look at books written by people who have worked in the United Nations. Become something of a United Nations resource expert.
The United Nations provides internship opportunities for graduate students. Internship location is only located in New York.