Focus: United Nations Employment

The United Nations system

The United Nations system covers a vast array of organizations, which includes the Secretariat, funds, programs, specialized agencies, related organizations and many other entities. Unfortunately, there is no single entry point for recruitment.

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The site that brings together most opportunities and explains some of the options in other parts of the system is the United Nations Secretariat’s careers portal. On the site, you can find information about the following job categories.

Staff positions are regular appointments, for which all openings are advertised directly on the careers portal. The basic eligibility requirements are: 1. An advanced university degree in a relevant occupational group; and 2. The requisite years of relevant experience (P-2: 0-2 years; P-3: 5 years; P-4: 7 years etc.).

Temporary jobs are used to fill positions for a period of less than one year (but never more than two) to meet seasonal or peak workloads and specific short-term requirements. The eligibility requirements are the same as for staff positions. Temporary job openings can also be found on the careers portal.

Information on the internship programme of the Secretariat and links to some of the internships programme of other United Nations system organizations can be found on a separate page of the careers portal. Internships with the Secretariat are unpaid, full-time and last between two and six months. There are two basic requirements: 1. Interns should be enrolled in a Master's/Ph.D. programme, OR in the final year of a Bachelor’s programme; OR within one year after graduation from a Bachelor’s/Master’s/Ph.D.; and 2. They cannot be the child or the sibling a staff member.

The Young Professionals Programme (YPP) is a recruitment initiative for talented, highly qualified professionals to start a career as an international civil servant with the United Nations Secretariat. It consists of an entrance examination organized once a year for applicants from countries that are un- or underrepresented. That list varies each year, as do the fields of expertise the exam is organized in. The YPP is open to applicants under the age of 32. Applicants complete preliminary forms online. After an initial screening round, selected applicants will be convoked to the written exam. Those who are successful in the written exam will be invited for a competency-based interview.

The United Nations Secretariat also offers opportunities for consultants and individual contractors. Those opportunities can be found on the careers portal.

The International Civil Service Commission, an independent expert body established by the General Assembly that covers all facets of staff employment conditions has created the ICSC Jobnet to bring together job openings across the organizations that fall under their mandate.  Positions can be filtered by location, organization and post level.

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme offers opportunities for service throughout the United Nations system, although most UN Volunteers work in United Nations peace operations, with UNHCR or with UNDP. The programme offers many different modalities, including opportunities for those younger than 25 and without much work experience. Durations of assignments can also vary from three months to several years. The best way to find out more is to check directly on the UNV website. UNV also offers online volunteering opportunities. The site connects online volunteers with United Nations organizations and NGOs. The online volunteers help with desktop research, translations, online teaching, technology development or web design. On completion, they receive a certificate recognizing their work.

Within the Secretariat, there are more opportunities not necessarily centralized on the careers portal. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), for example, offers a few fellowship programmes targeting very specific groups, while the Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) manages the Junior Professional Officers (JPO) programme.

For other opportunities outside the Secretariat, interested students will have to go organization by organization. The United Nations Development Programme Jobs posts positions in civil society, governance, and related areas. The UNICEF jobs portal features full-time positions and short-term and consulting opportunities.

A few non-United Nations sites try to bring job opportunities across the United Nations together:

United Nations Jobs lists opportunities throughout the world, including peacekeeping and other field positions.

The UN job list lists United Nations vacancies and has an integrated e-mail alert system.

Impactpool is career platform listing jobs in the United Nations, the European Union and with NGOs. It also offers other career resources.

Be mindful that the United Nations does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview meeting, processing, training or any other fees).

Page updated on February 11, 2019.