UN Entry-Level Hiring Programmes

 

The UN entry-level hiring programmes are run by the respective UN Organization and the eligibility requirements and application process differ from one to another depending on which programme you are applying to. This article sums up the human rights related UN entry-level hiring programmes for recent graduates and young professionals.

United Nations Secretariat

A. Junior Professional Officer

Information about the Program

The United Nations Secretariat has a program named the United Nations Associate Experts Programme, which is meant for young professionals at the beginning of their career. The programme hires Associate Experts (Junior Professional Officers) to work within the United Nations Secretariat as well as within its many entities. These entities include the Joint Inspection Unit, Regional Commissions, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and  the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. Generally, Associate Experts will be hired for a period of one year, with the possibility of extension if the job is performed well and if there is adequate funding available. Associate Experts will be paid a salary which is determined by the respective countries.

A full list of all the entities that fall under the JPO hiring programme of the UN Secretariat can be found here.

Required qualifications

In order to be eligible for the position as Junior Professional Officer you need to fulfill several requirements. The most important requirement is that you have to be a national of one of the countries whom support this Associate Experts Programme as a financial Donor. Currently there are 26 donor countries, which are Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States. In addition, the Netherlands currently sponsors applicants from developing countries. For more information about the eligible developing countries you can find a list here.

It is important to note that candidates have to apply to their national Ministry of Foreign Affairs and not directly to the UN Secretariat itself. The rest of the requirements below are general requirements, but they can vary slightly per country and it is therefore important to check the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for specific requirements. On this page you can find a link to all the participating Ministries of Foreign Affairs.

Generally, applicants must be under the age of 32 and must be in the possession of either a Master’s degree or a Bachelor degree and complementary sufficient work experience. Most donor countries require furthermore at least two years of professional work experience. Candidates need to speak at least one of the working languages of the UN Secretariat fluently (English or French), but occasionally a certain job can also require a candidate to fluently speak another UN language. Lastly, candidates are expected to have proficient computer skills.

The Application Procedure

Note that applying is only possible to specific vacancies, which can be found on the websites of the donor countries. Candidates are required to apply directly to their national Ministry of Foreign affairs and should therefore check the respective national website for vacancies, specific information on application requirements and the application procedure in general.  The only exception to this is that candidates who are nationals of developing countries must apply directly to the UN Secretariat. These candidates must send their application, consisting of a Personal History Statement and a Motivation Letter, via email to the UN Secretariat. Vacancies available to candidates of developing countries will be posted on this page.

The preliminary assessment of applicants is done by the national donor countries, where the applications will be assessed based on language skills, academic skills as well as professional work experience. The respective donor country will then short-list a certain amount of applicants and sends this list to the UN Secretariat.

Once the UN Secretariat receives the list of candidates, representatives of the relevant UN departments will interview these candidates by phone, video or in person. Based on these interviews, the department will decide which candidates it will hire and the department will notify all the short-listed candidates about its final decision.

B. Young Professionals Program

Information about the Program

The UN Young Professionals Programme is an entry-hiring programme from the UN Secretariat which aim is to recruit young professionals who want to start their career as an international civil servant at the UN Secretariat. This programme is very popular among young professionals and according to the UN Secretariat there are on average 40.000 applicants every year.  Applicants have to pass the yearly YPP examination. The examination consists of a general examination which is the same for every applicant, as well as a specific examination based on the type of job the candidates is applying for. The exam subjects that are open for applicants are different every year, based on the expected needs of the UN. In 2015 for example, the exam subjects were Administration, Legal Affairs, Social Affairs, Statistics, Finance and Public Information. In general, an exam subject will be offered every other year.

Passing the examination does not automatically lead to a job with the UN. Successful candidates are put on the reserve list of qualified professionals, and the UN uses this list to fill available job positions every three months. Successful candidates will be on this list for two years and if no job offer is made within this time, they unfortunately have to go through the whole YPP process again to get their name on the reserve list. Experience shows however that many of the young professionals on this list get hired either temporarily or permanently by the UN secretariat and the entities it is responsible for and it is definitely worth it to try to pass this examination for the possible job prospect of working at the UN. Once you are hired, the UN provides professional development programs which are very useful for young professionals who want to start an international career in human rights. Usually, successful candidates will be hired for a period of two years, with the possibility of extension of the contract if performance during these two years has been satisfactory. According to the UN website, the base salary for a young professional is between $37,000 – 80,000.

Required qualifications

The YPP examination is only open to nationals of certain countries and the list of countries changes annually. The UN Secretariat aims to have as many nationalities presented within its system and nationals of countries that are currently underrepresented within the United Nationals are therefore encouraged to take the YPP examination. The list gets published every year around the time that the application round begins. Candidates need to be fluent in English or French, the working languages of the UN. Furthermore, candidates need to have a first-level university degree in the field they want to apply for and cannot be older than 32 years old at the time of applying.

The Application Procedure

On this webpage of the UN you can find every little detail about the application procedure and the YPP examination. First of all, candidates have to prepare their application. In the application, candidates have to show that they fulfill all the eligibility requirements. In order to send the application, candidates have to make a profile at https://inspira.un.org and select which exam subject they are applying for. If more than 40 of the applications are from the same country, they will be ranked by a UN HR Officer based on their highest level of education, fluency in the UN working languages and relevant professional work experience. The most successful applicants will be invited to take the YPP examination.

The YPP examination consists of an oral and a written exam which add up to a maximum of 1000 points in total that applicants can score. Candidates will have four and a half hour to make the written part of the examination, which consists of a general part that all applicants have to make, regardless of which exam subject they are applying for. In this examination candidates are asked to summarize an article from 900 words to roughly 300 words. Candidates can score 150 points for this part. The other part of the written examination is specific to the exam subject and candidates are first asked to fill in a multiple choice test with relevant questions to the exam subject. After that, candidates will get up to 13 questions. Of these questions, the first three require a long answer of up to four pages, the rest of the questions needs a shorter answer of around two pages per question. Candidates can score a maximum of 650 points for this part of the examination.

The last part of the YPP examination is the oral examination and only candidates who have passed the written part of the examination will be invited to take part in the oral examination. Usually the oral examination will be done via a video-conference, where the candidate will be interviewed by a panel of the Specialized Examination Board. Candidates can score up to 200 points for the oral part of the examination. On this page you can find more information about the oral interview as well as tips to make sure your interview will be successful.

It is important to note that the results of the YPP examination will not be given to every individual candidate. Only the candidates that successfully passed all parts of the YPP examination will be informed individually, while the rest of the candidates will have to keep an eye on the ‘Important Updates’ page of the YPP program. The UN will post there once the examination and its results have been concluded. If applicants have not heard anything about their results at that point, it can unfortunately be concluded that they did not pass the YPP examination.

United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organization

A. Junior Professional Officer

Information about the Program

The Associate Expert (AE), also known as the Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Programme is an entry-level hiring programme offered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). UNESCO hires young professionals via this program for both UNESCO’s Headquarters as well as for their 64 Field Offices and gives candidates a chance to gain relevant training and work experience needed to start an international career. Successful candidates are usually hired for a period of two or three years and they will be paid a salary in accordance with the UN scale. According to the UN website, the base salary for a young professional is between $37,000 – 80,000, based on the level that you are hired on (P1-3). UNESCO is an international organization which is active in many countries and it is therefore expected that candidates accept the possibility of re-location and geographical mobility during their assignment. UNESCO will provide assistance if re-location is necessary to both the staff members as well as their family members.

Required qualifications

It is firstly important to note that only nationals of countries that currently fund the employment of nationals to UNESCO are eligible to apply for this program. The current countries that have a donor agreement with UNESCO are Austria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Nationals of aforementioned countries are thus eligible to apply to the JPO/AE Programme. This can differ on a yearly basis however, so it is important to keep an eye on this webpage where the donor countries are listed.

Other eligibility requirements that need to be fulfilled are that candidates must be 32 years or younger at the time of their application to the programme. Candidates must furthermore have a first-level higher education degree in culture, science, communication, education, social and human sciences or international management and administration. Candidates must be fluent in English or French and knowledge of other UN working languages is seen as an asset. Professional work experience is not required in order to apply for this programme, but it is considered an asset.

The Application Procedure

Candidates have to apply to their national Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the position of JPO under this program and not directly to UNESCO. This webpage contains some links to the relevant websites of foreign Ministries, but not all of them are listed there and it is therefore necessary to check with your national Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more information about the application procedure.

Once the national pre-selection process has been concluded, the donor countries will send a list of short-listed candidate to UNESCO. From this list, UNESCO will make the final decision about which candidates will be offered a position. UNESCO will take into account the eligibility of the candidates as well as their technical competence, compliance with UN values and relevant previous work experience.

B. Young Professionals Program

Information about the Program

The Young Professionals Programme of UNESCO is an entry-level hiring programme for recent university graduates and young professionals. Successful candidates can be offered positions both at the Headquarters in Paris or in the Field Offices around the world. The YPP is seen as a very competitive program. In 2015 for example, 907 applicants submitted their application while only 16 applicants were offered a position. The YP Programme of UNESCO strives for a fair geographical distribution of its staff members, thereby promoting gender quality and diversity within its Organization. This can also be seen by the fact that all 16 successful applicants of 2015 were nationals from unrepresented or underrepresented countries within UNESCO.

As is the case with the other UNESCO entry-level hiring programme, applicants accept the possibility of geographical mobility while working at UNESCO and will receive assistance if they need to do so.

Required qualifications

UNESCO currently only hires nationals of un- or underrepresented countries. This list shows the current 96 countries that are unrepresented or underrepresented within UNESCO and their nationals are therefore eligible to apply for the YPP. Candidates must be 32 or younger at the time of their application and must be in the possession of an advanced higher-level degree in culture, science, education, communication, international management and administration or social and human sciences. Fluency in English or French is required and knowledge of Russian, Arabic, Chinese, or Spanish is considered to be an asset. Professional work experience is not mandatory, but is also seen as an asset.

The Application Procedure

Candidates must contact their National Commission or Permanent Delegation if they are interested in applying to the YP Programme. The list of National Commissions can be found here. National Commissions and Permanent Delegations will receive a call for applications from UNESCO and are then responsible to disseminate this information among the interested applicants. Applicants must send their application to the National Commission, which will screen the applications for eligibility and required qualifications. The National Commission then makes a list of 12 or less short-listed candidates and sends this to UNESCO. Short-listed applications will be reviewed by an UNESCO Committee and candidates are chosen based on their academic qualifications, their motivation letter, their presentation of the application, language skills and previous professional experience. The chosen candidates will be invited to take an interview and language tests, which will be taking place at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris. Successful applicants will be informed by letter and other applicants will be informed via their National Commission or Permanent Delegation.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Entry-level Humanitarian Program

Information about the Program

The Entry-level Humanitarian Program of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) aims to recruit young professionals who want to start a career in humanitarian work. This program is one of the most competitive and most comprehensive UN programs and only the most talented and qualified candidates will be recruited each year. The EHP gives participants the opportunity to be involved in operational work and their assignments will give them valuable experience about both regional and country-specific issues. Candidates must be willing to be deployed in conflict zones and field offices. In total, UNHCR expects to recruit 30-50 new EHP participants every year.

Young professionals who have been accepted to this program often continue to work and develop themselves at UNHCR after their initial one or two-year EHP assignment. In addition, around 30% of the accepted applicants are current staff members of UNHCR who want to enter the International Professional Category. If their performance is satisfactory, EHP participants will be able to apply to vacancies that are internally advertised within the UNHCR.

Required qualifications

Applications can only be submitted to specific vacancies, which will be advertised on this webpage of UNHCR. That also means that there might be specific qualifications needed for a certain job position. In general however, applicants must at least have an (advanced) higher-level degree. If an applicant has a Bachelor degree, four years of relevant professional work experience are required, while an applicant with a Master’s degree must have at least two years of relevant work experience. Applicants must be under 46 years old at the closing date of the application process. Candidates need to be fluent in at least two UN languages, of which one has to be either English or French. Proficiency in English must always be at least on B2 level.

The Application Procedure

The application procedure consists of many phases and can slightly differ depending on the job position. Most application procedures however consist of assessment tests for subjects as language and technical competence. If these tests are successfully passed, candidates will have an interview with UNHCR staff. If the staff recommends a candidate, they will have to attend a comprehensive UNHCR orientation that takes place in Budapest. After that, candidates will be appointed to a specific position and location by the High Commissioner and will be trained in preparation for their deployment to the field. If you decline a position, you are assumed to have given up your membership and you will not be able to be appointed to another position that year.

The application and selection process takes around four to five months to be completed and participants are expected to start within two months after having been offered a position. Only successful applicants will be notified of the result, so if you have not heard anything within half a year after applying, you have most likely not been accepted into the EHP program.

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund

Junior Professional Officer

The Junior Professional Officers (JPO) Programme of UNICEF is an entry-level hiring program which grants young professionals the opportunity to pursue a career in international development by getting hands-on experience in an international setting focused on protecting and improving the future of children worldwide. Junior Professional Officers can be employed at UNICEF’s Headquarters in New York or in developing countries. Candidates are generally hired for a period of one to two years, based on performance and available funding from their donor country. UNICEF hires young professional with the aim to employ them for a longer time and almost 50% of the JPO applicants continues to work for UNICEF after their initial one or two-year employment.

Required qualifications

Applications must be made for specific job positions and need to be sent directly to the national’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Only nationals of financial donor countries to UNICEF are eligible to participate in their JPO programme. Currently, the donor countries of UNICEF are Austria, Finland, Belgium, France, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In addition, Belgium and the Netherlands also sponsor nationals of certain developing countries. The list of the sponsored developing countries can be found on the website of the governments.

For specific requirements, candidates should check the website of their national Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but there are a few requirements that all applicants must fulfill. Candidates must be 32 years or younger, must be in the possession of a Master’s degree and must have at least two years of previous relevant work experience. Fluency in English is required and knowledge of a second UN working language (Russian, Spanish, French or Chinese) is preferred.

The Application Procedure

Candidates have to apply directly to their national Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the position of JPO and applications should not be send directly to UNICEF. This webpage contains some links to the relevant websites of foreign Ministries, but not all of them are listed there and it is therefore necessary to check with your national Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more information about the specific application procedure. The only exception is that applicants from the Netherlands are requested to apply directly through the employment website of UNICEF.

Once the national pre-selection process has been concluded, the donor countries will, together with UNICEF staff members, make the final decision about which candidates will be offered a position. The application process lasts between two and six months and candidates will be notified of the results via their national ministries of Foreign Affairs.

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