Most UN Jobs Vacancies are Available Online
We are fortunate enough that no matter where we are in the world, we can apply online for the majority of UN positions. UN secretariat organisations all have their vacancies announced on one centralised site. These positions are also available from Inspira where you complete your profile and submit your application. The specialised agencies have their own job portals via their website. Just look for the section on the site labelled careers/vacancies/jobs etc. Another option is to check sites such as this one which bring together jobs from various agencies and organisations.
People often ask me what is the best way to find a job at the UN. I just tell them go to International Career Finder and check out vacancies all day! We aggregate positions from many different UN organisations to make your life easier. Of course though, it is not the only way so use the information in this post to level up your job search.
Getting The First Look
Another way in which some people search for jobs is through LinkedIn. I have noticed that not all UN positions are advertised on there though, so be sure to check directly on the organisations website if you are unsure. In LinkedIn you may also have people in your network who share vacancies or announce upcoming positions that you may have otherwise missed or that have not yet been posted on the organisation’s website.
This is a great way to apply for positions early, which could make the difference between getting a job and not getting one. As in some cases interviews start or positions are even filled before the deadline is even reached, this is especially the case for emergency rosters or other urgent posts.
Professional Job Seeker Mode
Also, for positions such as JPOs or to work in other positions where you are seconded to the UN you need to keep an eye on the relevant government websites for any vacancies. For instance, if you are Ugandan and you wanted to work with the Ugandan mission to the UN, you would have to apply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Uganda to get such a position not directly to the UN. The same principle applies for environmental and other representatives of governments who work primarily with the UN but for their own government. The best approach to finding these jobs is to bookmark the relevant sites and check them periodically (for example on first and third Monday of the month).
Other positions are only available for certain candidates. For example, if you succeed in the YPP competitive process you have access to roles which can only be applied for by people who have passed the YPP. The same applies for consultancies and other jobs that are ‘filled from roster’, this requires you to have previously applied for and placed on a roster for that particular organisation. This can happen to candidates who interview well for a role but who have otherwise not been chosen, you are usually informed if you are on a roster so you would know if you are.
There are also positions that are only available to internal staff, to find those you have to check the relevant intranet or check with your HR department to find out how to apply for such positions. Lastly, for completeness I will mention that some of the UN positions are not found or applied for by people but instead you have to be nominated for them. This only applies for Under Secretary General (USG) and higher positions and is usually quite a political and complex process.
Lastly, for those who are not aware, the UN also has a ‘volunteering’ programme called UN Volunteers (UNV). These positions, confusingly and unlike internships, are paid. Whilst you do not get a salary you are given a stipend that is often quite generous. In my opinion this can be a great entry route into a UN career for those who are either ineligible to do an internship (due to having graduated too long or go or for other reasons) or who don’t want to do one etc. There are various contract types and the applications are all completed on the UNV website. You can create a profile and be placed in a pool of applicants from which organisations choose their preferred candidates based on their needs.
Another option is to apply for special calls, this way you can apply for specific positions that you may be interested in, the UNV office handles the primary application filtering and then the short-listed candidates are interviewed directly by the hiring organisation. My only gripe with the UNV system is that the online application portal does not allow you to differentiate yourself enough in my opinion, with tight word limits and a lack of space to input information about yourself.
My advice for prospective UN employees is to have a list of organisations that you may be interested in working with at your disposal. Then using that list you can keep an eye out on them once a week or month depending on how often you would like to search and apply for jobs. For your reference here is the list of some of the organisations in that I used to use as a guide when looking for jobs. It just goes to show that even with quite a niche field in environmental work, there were a wide range of options in terms of where you could work. Of course, most of these organisations have various offices all over the globe so there are opportunities to suit almost all people’s needs.
Of course, International Career Finder makes it easier for you to find the majority of these positions on one site; this way it is much simpler to find the right positions to apply for rather than searching a dozen different sites. Just note that certain specific positions that are not directly advertised by the UN won’t be found here (but we are working on that!). This includes government sponsored positions and those for representative roles at the UN for the respective governments.