Steps That I Should Follow To Get A Job At The United Nations
What, how, will i succeed, do i have what it takes, i may not get the Job… and many others are questions that come up. Must this stress us up? No, absolutely no. Read the following report..
There are two kinds of staff in my UN agency: General Service staff (“G staff”) and Professional staff (“P staff”). The first step will be to decide which kind of staff you want to be.
G staff are basically the guys that keep the system running – most commonly secretaries, technicians, maintenance staff, but also warehouse packers, cooks etc. They are only recruited locally at the duty station.
Some examples (not at all exhaustive):
A typical secretary would be a G-4. These days, they are referred to as “Team Assistants”, covering a broad range of clerical duties including travel arrangements, filing, organizing workshops, etc. In more technical areas, a laboratory technician or electrician would also be around G-3 or G-4. With experience, they can become G-5.
A G-5 usually is the assistant to a Director rather than a Section Head (the Director is usually the boss of 3–5 Section Heads within a Division), or his work is somewhat more specific and/or technical. A G-6 will be a very experienced technician, or an Administrative Assistant handling important divisional matters such as recruitment, budget and finance, resource planning etc.
On the lower end, a G-1 will be e.g. a warehouse packer, a G-2 a laboratory attendant (mainly cleaning the lab), and G-3 would be a cook, mail messenger, junior lab technician – and often an entry-level grade for newcomers placed on G-4 jobs.
The other category is P staff:
They will most often be scientists or senior technicians, engineers, translators, or senior administrators of entities entailing hundreds of people. P staff are recruited from around the world and paid very much more than G staff; however, their tenure at the UN agency is usually limited to several years (with exceptions). Pretty much all managers are on the P-4- or P-5 level, divisional directors D-1 or D-2. “D staff“ is rarely used, Directors “count as P staff”.
Young graduates with the right scientific background will often start as P-1 (really fresh out of school – no experience). P-2 is for example a junior scientist with some experience, and P-3 a fairly broad grade of established staff with routine experience. Senior scientists are often P-4, equal to junior managers (e.g Team Leaders).
So from the above, your first question is: G or P? Personally, I am lucky to live in a city with a UN agency and being employed there as a G staff, which already pays very nicely.
Yes. The pay is nice. That is a reason why it is not easy at all to enter the UN system. Many people want in. And vacancies are almost always distributed amongst people already in there.
Now you’ll understand why I went anonymous. It is close to impossible to get in there without a “door opener”, be it G or P level. The recruitment processes between the staff categories differ considerably, and since I am a General Service staff member, my further lines will be more from a G staff perspective.
In my case, it was a long-time friend of my Dad within the system who told me exactly what to write into the online Personal History Form (UN slang for CV), how to write it, and where exactly to send it (yes, at the time I still snail-mailed it!). He or she told me what to wear, which questions to expect, and so on. With this person’s help (and him/her “supporting” me internally), I managed to land a short-term G-3 contract for three months. A humble assistant secretarial job with lots of photocopying and really quite mundane clerical tasks. But it paid me way over $2,000 p/m – NET! (2005)
I went on for almost five years of short-term contracts. I was never “too good” to photocopy thick documents or pack boxes if the needs of the office required it. You must show willingness and dedication, and endure fear about your next contract extension, possibly for years. You also learn a lot of interesting things, learn what is needed in here, and can apply that knowledge. You must be generally willing to eat humble pie, which does not mean that you allow people to sh** on you. But don’t consider any mundane tasks “beneath you” at the beginning.
You must also prepare to initially switch jobs often. At the beginning, I was always the stopgap for this secretary on maternity leave, that sick lady, this guy on a career development reassignment. That’s great. You quickly learn many different things.
But once you have managed to enter the system and prove yourself for a while, the most important step is getting a fixed-term contract. The recruitment process for short-term contracts is comparatively unbureaucratic, designed to quickly obtain replacements for staff on sick leave/other assignments/who have retired etc.
However, for a fixed term, you need to formally apply for the job officially advertised on the UN agency’s web site. You will compete against dozens of internals and hundreds of externals (whose chances are negligible). You must “fear” the internal competitors more…
Often enough, you will have done a great job on your temporary post, but now the time has come for it to be officially advertised. Perhaps the guy you have been replacing (because he was himself temporary at a higher grade level) now got the “higher job for real”, and now you can do the same. Apply for your own job! To get it for real.
You will be confronted with the fact that 360 others also want that job. But since you have already kept the chair warm at the desk for a while, your chances of getting it are very, very high if you have done a good job. They are never 100%, though.
And you will be confronted with – waiting.
Getting a fixed term as General Service Staff (Professional less so) rewards you with a very strong contract and very high job security. But between the button click of sending off your application and actually being interviewed (whether for the job you are already sitting on, or another one, if you are invited for an interview at all) three months can easily pass. When you exit the interview feeling fairly confident, you must still prepare to wait two and a half to four months for that precious e-mail informing you that you got the job. Seriously. So be patient.
You might also know beforehand that your current job has a time stamp (maternity leave – she will be back), so you will be applying for lots of jobs other than your current one, those already having been advertised in the system. Be prepared that you may submit about 25 job applications and attend 7 interviews before you get the “Yeah, baby!” (my experience)
Wow…not sure how focussed this article was…I am writing it today because I had the privilege of being promoted recently to a higher G staff level. And I have a secure long-term contract. It has been quite a battle within the UN system to get to where I am now. And I can still move further up, but I will give it a rest for a while now.
Good luck, applicants! Maybe my info above gives you helpful ideas…
(Anonymous writer’s testimony)
I want to work in the United Nations. However, I know their jobs are hard to get, is there something I can major in that will get me a UN job but still a good job in the meanwhile if I don’t get in right away?
What should I do in order to get a job in a United Nations organization?
How do I get a permanent job at the UN?
How much does a United Nations job pay?
You need help,
You have received help,
Write here below for the benefit of others.
OTHER HELPFUL TIPS
How to Start
The UN is an organization with a huge number of employees. Getting a job with the UN will lead you through tough Competition as there are often many candidates for the same position.
Here are the main steps you’ll
have to do to start the UN career.
The best way to start is to browse the United Nations official website to get a better understanding of what you are offered. This may be super helpful for those who do not yet understand what they are looking for. On the website, you will have a chance to get acquainted with a list of job openings, areas, and qualifications required. Information is everything, so be prepared.
2. Choose the staff category.
- There are several staff categories to choose from. In choosing the category you should take into account your skills and interests, as well as work experience.
- Make sure you have enough experience and qualification for the position chosen. So, i will advise you to go for a field in which you are at your best, having in mind the large number of other candidate you will have to beat to climb high. Understandably, each position has a set of requirements you should meet for your application to be considered. Sometimes candidates don’t pay attention to the requirements relying on luck. It’s completely wrong, as in this case people just waste their time applying. So, i insist you work from requirements to choose the best job category so as to succeed in your application,
3. Register an account.
Having selected a job category, you should proceed to registration. To register a personal account, you’ll have to provide some personal information (like your date of birth, your name, email, etc). You’ll also have to provide some information about your qualification. And the last step is to create a user name and a password.
Choose a job and apply. Think twice whether you meet all the requirements not to waste your time for nothing. You can apply for as many positions as you like. Instead using CV, you will need to use forms as UN p11 form (personal history form). The applying process is not a complicated one, you just have to follow the instructions.
Wait for an interview invitation. Having applied for a job (or several), all you have to do is wait. You will be able to check the status of your application in your account. Be attentive, as only those selected for an interview will be informed about the result.
There are several programs designed to help young people to find a career path in the UN. One of the most popular is the Young Professionals Programme (we’ll discuss it a little bit later).
UN Jobs FAQ
How can I get a job in the UN?
Getting into the UN may be challenging, so it’s better to be fully aware of all your options and understand the potential problems you may face. The first step is research. Browse the official website to get acquainted with the company’s ideology and its job openings. If you are sure you want to contribute to the well-being of humanity working in the UN, you are welcome to choose a position you like the most (or several) and apply. To do this, you’ll have to go through the registration and provide some information about your qualification and some personal information. Make sure you meet all the requirements of the position chosen. If you are not experienced enough, you can select one of the internship programs offered by the UN.
What types of jobs are there in the UN?
There are several job networks in the UN, including economic and social development, peace and security, information systems and communicuation technology, management and operations support, safety and security, public information and external relations, conference management. There is a huge selection of jobs for the potential candidates of various experiences and qualifications, so your possibilities are plentiful. There are different categories of workers, such as field services workers, professionals, national professional officers, general service workers, and several others.
How much do jobs at the UN pay?
Salaries in the UN are competitive. In fact, the sum of money you’ll get depends on several factors, such as your category, qualification, type of your contract, and your duty station. For some jobs (general services, national professional officers) people are hired locally, so the salary depends on it. Use our UN salary calculator to know your future sqlqry. Choosing a position from professional and higher categories, you’ll get from 37,000$ to 123,000$ and from 31,000$ to 90,000$ if you are planning to work in field services (depending on qualification).
Is it difficult to get a job at the UN?
Getting a job at the UN is certainly not an easy task. The competition is fierce, as there are usually many people eager to get the same position. It’s better to immerse yourself into this adventure being prepared and ready for any outcome. Understandably, there are many people dreaming about working in a powerful international organization, but only the best candidates are chosen. All applications are carefully reviewed and chosen candidates are invited for an interview. It will be difficult, but we can make progress only by means of difficulties, so it’s certainly worth trying.
Which languages should I know to apply for the UN job?
Every UN job has a set of requirements, like age, work experience, etc. Language knowledge is another requirement that can influence your success. English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Russian are the official UN languages, but usually, candidates are required to have a good command of either French or English. The more languages you know – the bigger your chances of getting a job of your dream. Besides, if you have good language skills, you can become a UN translator, interpreter, language instructor, or a teacher.
What degree/diploma/certification should I get to work at the UN?
It depends on the position you’d like to get, as there are different education and work experience requirements. For some positions, a bachelor’s (or higher) degree is required, while you can apply for the others having your High School diploma only.
Can I get a job being a student?
Those looking for chances to start a successful career can do it even while studying in the university, as the UN offers several volunteer programs and internships for young people. For example, the UN Internship Programme makes it possible for students in the final year of a Bachelor program to get into the UN and understand the core principles of its work better. There is also a United Nations Volunteers Programme, which is active in approximately 80 countries nowadays. So, if you are a student and want to get new knowledge and skills, you are welcome to choose any of the UN programs for students.
Where should I apply for a UN job?
The applying procedure is not complicated at all. So, the first thing you should do is visit the career.un.org website to get acquainted with the job openings currently available. So, select the area you like and have a look at those. If you already know what types of positions you are looking for, just use filters to make the search easier. Click the “Search” button and you will have all the jobs in front of your eyes. If you have already chosen a position you’d like to apply to, the next step is registration at inspira.un.org. On this website, you’ll have to provide all the necessary details about your qualification (as well as your personal information), write a cover letter and voila – you are ready to apply. Just go back to the vacancy you have selected and click the “Apply” button.
How much time does a UN job applicant have to wait for feedback whether she/he was shortlisted for the job?
As a rule, it takes from two weeks to four months to go through the selection process. So, you’ll have to be patient and wait for the e-mail informing you that you are selected for the next step (as a rule, it’s a writing test). We have many written assessment test samples for organisations such UN, UNDP, WFP, and Unicef.
Our UN career Guide provides you the best and most recent UN, WFP, Unicef and UNDP written test.
Then comes the interview (by Skype or personally). After an interview, you’ll have to wait for the final decision from 1 week to 1 month.
How to write a successful CV for the UN?
The first and the most important rule you should remember – there should be no mistakes. A single little mistake or inaccuracy can reduce your chances. So, first of all, you are to provide your personal information. Then, proceed to education. Always start with the latest degree you’ve obtained. You should provide information about years of studying and the full names of educational institutions. Then comes a summary of your skills and proficiency. After this block of information comes professional experience, where you should try to highlight your most impressive achievements. Having done it, you are to provide some additional information (languages, additional training, etc.) and at least three references.