How To Get A Job In The United Nations

By Shingirayi Kondongwe

“Congratulations on being shortlisted!”… This is the kind of email message that you are dreaming of receiving one day from the United Nations.

There is no doubt that the United Nations is the most sought after by various young people around the world. Yet getting in the United Nations is not easy due to stiff competition, however, it can be made simple if you do the following:

  1. Start by pursuing entry-level opportunities–
    This is probably one of the most effective ways of getting a full-time job in the United Nations. Entry-level opportunities include UN internship programs, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV), The Junior Professional Officer (JPO) program, and the United Nations Young Professionals Program (YPP). In most cases, these entry-level job opportunities are classified as P-1 level. The good news is that P-1 positions do not require work experience. Therefore, this is your chance to try. What are you waiting for?
  2. Be enrolled in or possess an Advanced University degree– Having an advanced university degree will increase your chances of being hired by the UN. For those who are currently enrolled as Masters Students are also eligible mostly for entry-level positions. In very rare cases, the UN may also accept currently enrolled undergraduate students.
  3. You must speak at least two languages or more including a strong command of English or French as mandatory– Having a strong command of English or French is one of the most important basics that can land you a job at the UN. I strongly encourage that you learn both English and French if possible. Adding another internationally recognized language will be a big bonus. Apart from English and French, other internationally recognized languages of the UN include Russian, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic. Swahili is also another important language, even though it is not yet recognized as an international language.
  4. Register your profile on various UN job careers platforms– In order to keep up to date with new UN job updates; it is very wise for you to register your profile on UN job careers platforms. The most prominent of these platforms include UN Inspira, UN Careers, UN Jobs, UN Subscribe Bot, and UNDP Jobs. Other useful platforms include Devex , Impactpool, and DevNetJobs .
  5. Participate in the UN familiarization short programmes/events- Did you know that the UN have got its own familiarization programmes or events that serves for the purpose of giving participants a first-hand experience of the United Nations and its multilateral environment. These include the United Nations Immersion Programme, which is organized by UNITAR, and the United Nations Graduate Study Programme (UNGSP) which organized by the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG). These events will give you a first-hand opportunity to mix and mingle with various UN representatives. This exposure is an excellent opportunity to network and asks any questions concerning the operations of the UN agencies.

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There is no one size fits all approach to getting a job in the UN, however, the information I provided for you in the above would definitely increase your chances of landing a job in the UN. I also want to make it clear that by writing this article, I am not promising anyone that you will get a job in the UN if you do what I wrote in the above. Simply, this information is to help you increase your chances of landing that dream job of your choice in the UN.

Written By Shingirayi Kondongwe

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