How to Get a Job at the UN

An overview of the job opportunities for young professionals hoping to get their foot in the door at the un..


“ If the United Nations is to survive, those who represent it must bolster it; those who advocate it must submit to it; and those who believe in it must fight for it. ”

Norman Cousins

The UN resembles the infamous club Berghain. Everyone wants to get in, but hardly anyone knows how.

One thing is for sure, it’s not all about how you're dressed. There are (at least) three common factors that hinder young professionals from getting a job at the UN.

The biggest problem remains that many young professionals have great respect for the name and underestimate their likelihood of getting hired. Secondly, unlike consulting firms or investment banks, the UN does not target students or young professionals on campus or through recruiting events. Hence, many young graduates don’t get in touch with representatives of the UN system and thus don’t get exposure to the full breadth of opportunities that are out there. 

Last but not least, the UN’s information policy definitely has room for improvement, especially in terms of homogeneity and clarity. There is not one exhaustive central portal, but several for different programs and a dispersed range of information.

To find all the current development job offers, visit our  jobs page . 

For these reasons, the following article aims to give you a clear overview and better orientation of opportunities for working at the un, so that ultimately, you can find the un job that is right for you..

What does it take to get a job at the UN?

  • Normally, it is required that you have an advanced university degree for a career with the UN.
  • Excellent command of either English or French, since they are the common working languages.
  • Knowledge of an additional language is an asset but is not required for most jobs.
  • The most important component is, without a doubt, previous work experience.
  • Applicants, according to their previous professional experience, can apply for different job categories. P-1 positions don’t require any work experience; however, they basically don’t exist. P-2 positions require a minimum 2 years of work experience, P-3 a minimum 5 years, P-4 a minimum 7 years, and P-5 a minimum 10 years.

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I am not going to start talking about values and moral vocation here. If you have decided to read this article, I assume that you have a vivid interest in international development work and share the values that the UN stands for. Hence, I will focus on the hard facts.

Staff members of the UN system are normally internationally recruited and are expected to serve at different duty stations throughout their career with the organization. An exhaustive overview of formal criteria and staff characteristics can be found here. After these rather general requirements that roughly apply for all jobs and positions, I will now have a look at the specific programs geared toward young professionals. 

The UN Internship Programme

  • The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme

The Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Programme

The young professionals programme.

Out of all UN programs, the UN Internship Programme is the option that demands the lowest entry requirements for aspiring candidates. With over 4,000 interns in the New York headquarters alone, the number of UN interns has skyrocketed in the last few years. Basic requirements are enrollment in a Master's or a Ph.D. program, or being in the final year of a Bachelor program. The internship normally lasts between two and six months. 

The biggest drawback is the remuneration; as there is none. Not even travel expenses are covered. 

Fortunately, there are a number of initiatives attempting to change the status quo, foremost the Fair Internship Initiative New York and the Pay Your Interns initiative in Geneva. However, there are some United Nations funds and programs which are autonomous enough to have their own remuneration policy and do indeed pay their interns. For example, the International Labor Organization (ILO) states, " Where an intern is not supported by an institution (university, government or other institution), a stipend to cover basic subsistence costs will be paid by the ILO ." 

In addition, there are certain national internship programs backed by national governments. In Germany, prime examples are the Carlo-Schmid-Programm supervised by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes. 

One last point to mention here is that a considerable number of interns receive the offer to work as a consultant subsequent to their internship, provided that the budget of the organization allows offering such a position. Having said that, be aware that these contracts are normally rather short-term (on average 3-12 months) and don’t always provide the same benefits that permanent staff enjoy. 

UN Volunteers 

A second entry opportunity that comes close to an internship is the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme . It is currently active in 86 countries. More than 7,700 UN Volunteers are mobilized every year nationally and internationally to work in development assistance projects and in humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, with 80 percent coming from developing countries. 

The idea behind the program is the transfer of your knowledge in exchange for gaining greater understanding of development work in the field. UNV stresses, “ Although UN Volunteers from diverse professional and technical backgrounds are always in demand, there are particular areas of expertise where potential volunteers with relevant backgrounds and skills are more frequently requested.” Needless to say, applicants must be prepared to be deployed to difficult regions and they need to be able to adjust to fast-changing living and working circumstances. 

Whereas common assignments last twelve months or longer, short-term assignments normally cover a period of three months or less. Volunteers have to be older than 25 and receive (financial) support through a settling-in-grant, a monthly volunteer living allowance, annual leave and basic insurance. 

The Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Programme offers another opportunity for entering the UN system, however it is far more competitive than the two options described above. JPO posts are only offered by certain UN organizations and participants serve primarily in one of the country offices of the participating organizations in the developing countries. 

JPO positions are sponsored by your respective national government, meaning that you can only apply if your government currently offers a certain JPO position. Successful applicants are offered one year fixed term contracts which are normally renewed for a second year subject to satisfactory performance. Certain partner governments sponsor assignments of up to four years. Salaries correspond with those of entry-level UN professional staff (P1 - P2). 

JPOs must be younger than 32. Requirements normally stipulate a Master's degree (or equivalent) in a development-related discipline, a minimum of two years of paid working experience in a relevant field, preferably in a developing country, written and spoken proficiency in at least two of the three official UN languages (English, French and Spanish), as well as some more fuzzy criteria like excellent information technology skills, evidence of the ability to think strategically and a strong commitment to development.

The last program I would like to mention here is the Young Professionals Programme , a recruitment initiative for young professionals to start a career as an international civil servant with the United Nations Secretariat. The normal procedure requires an entrance examination that is held once a year, as well as professional development programs once successful candidates start their careers with the UN. 

The first step is to check if your country is currently one of the participating countries, since this varies annually. The second step is to carefully review the job openings for the exam area you are interested in. Make sure you fulfill the subject-specific requirements. The list of current job openings can be found on the YPP homepage . 

Last but not least, you can apply to the selected job opening through the online portal Inspira. Your application will be screened to determine if you are eligible for the examination in the exam area you applied for. If your application was successful, you will be informed that you have been invited to the examination. 

Similar to the JPO programme, applicants have to be under 32. Moreover, they must hold at least a first-level university degree relevant to one of the exam areas (Administration, Finance, Legal Affairs, Public Information, Social Affairs, Statistics) and be fluent in either English or French. Requirements are thus a bit less rigorous than for the JPO programme. Although work experience is not directly mentioned as hard criteria, be aware of YPP’s policy, “ Where more than 40 candidates of the same nationality apply for the YPP, relevant work experience will be used to rank candidates. ”

As is usually the case with dream jobs, persistence and dedication are key

In conclusion, though rarely communicated in a clear or homogenous way, there are in fact several entry opportunities for young professionals looking to get a UN job. Though it’s needless to say that entering the UN requires a significant amount of effort, persistence and dedication. 

It’s perhaps useful to think of it this way: the first two options described above are most appropriate if you are not yet completely certain if working for the UN is right for you. The last two are very specific and top notch programs and are therefore better suited for those who have their heart set on working at the UN.


One final bit of advice. Be aware that the majority of job opportunities, particularly for newcomers, are in program countries and not in the offices in New York, Geneva and Nairobi. If you are serious about serving in global development work for the UN, applying for a UN job in the field might be the more promising option.

To find all the current development job offers, visit our  jobs page . 

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Human Rights Careers

How to Get a Job at the UN

Working for the United Nations (UN) is a dream of many young professionals around the world. It’s not just a job, but an opportunity to be part of global initiatives, to strengthen human rights and development, and to promote peace among nations. Although not a priority for many human rights workers, it also comes with a very healthy paycheck. Even early-career international staff members at the UN receive tax-free salaries of USD 100,000+ annually. So how can you enter?

To get a job at the UN you need an advanced university degree, fluency in English or French, ideally prior work and professional experience depending on the grade at which you hope to enter. Proficiency in other official UN languages (Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Russian) is an advantage but not a requirement for most available jobs. If you’ve ticked off these boxes, you can begin to explore more specific opportunities within the UN.

What you need to know first

The pathway to a career at the United Nations often involves gaining experience elsewhere first. Many individuals typically start their journey at NGOs or government agencies, moving to the UN after several years of hands-on working experience. A much smaller group enters the UN right after graduation. I worked at OHCHR as staff member and later as consultant after I had several years of experience working in human rights at Amnesty International and other organizations. Instead of trying to enter the UN straight away, you might prefer to join a small, lesser-known NGO first. In smaller NGOs, you’ll encounter a less competitive application process, have the opportunity to explore various roles to discover your fit, and often have more responsibility because you play a bigger role in a smaller organization. So, is it impossible to join the UN as a fresh graduate? No, it’s not. Let’s explore the options:

#1 UN Internship Program

The UN internship program provides firsthand experience with the daily operations of the UN, allowing you to work alongside professionals, attend conferences, engage in meetings, and contribute to the organization’s work. The scope of your work will largely depend on your supervisor and your experience. Eligibility criteria include being in the final year of or having completed a university degree, proficiency in English or French. Normally, the internship lasts between two to six months and should be started within a year of graduation. A big caveat is that interns are often not compensated by the UN. While some paid UN internships exist, you will likely be responsible for all associated costs, including travel, accommodation, visas, and insurance. There are groups like The Fair Internship Initiative who are trying to change that. If you are an unpaid intern, take part in their survey and support them.

Where UN internships are advertised: 

  • UN Careers Website (See the sidebar)
  • UNICEF Internships
  • UNSSC Internship Programme
  • UK Mission to the UN (not a UN internship but still worth a consideration)
  • US Mission to the UN (not a UN internship but still worth a consideration)

#2 Young Professionals Programme

The UN Young Professionals Programme (YPP) is a recruitment program aimed at hiring young professionals for the UN Secretariat. Applicants undergo an entrance examination and receive professional development upon joining the UN. The YPP exam is conducted annually in varying subject areas based on UN needs. Only nationals from specific countries (which change each year) can apply. Applications typically open in June through the Inspira platform . Eligibility criteria include being from a participating country, having a relevant university degree, being 32 or younger in the exam year, and fluency in English or French.

Where YPP positions are advertised: 

  • UN Young Professionals Programme
  • Similar programs are available for entities such as Asian Development Bank , World Bank , World Health Organization.

#3 Junior Professional Officer Programme (JPO)

The JPO Programme is a partnership (bilateral agreement) between the United Nations and a country. Typically, JPOs hail from donor nations, though some donors sponsor nationals from developing countries. These officers, generally young professionals, typically possess advanced degrees and a minimum of two years’ professional experience, holding P1 or P2 level positions. The number of positions fluctuates yearly and by donor. JPOs normally start with a one-year term, which can be extended based on performance and donor consent, but there’s no guarantee of a subsequent regular staff position.  JPO positions are typically advertised on the websites of the UN agencies that participate in the programme. In addition, individual donor countries might also advertise JPO positions designated for their nationals on their own respective foreign ministry or international cooperation websites.

Where JPO positions are advertised: 

  • DESA JPO Vacancies 
  • UNDP JPO Service Center 
  • US Government JPO Programs 
  • UNICEF JPO Programme
  • JPO Positions Germany
  • Similar programs are available at Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)

What’s the difference between the UN Young Professionals Programme and the Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Programme?

Both the UN Young Professionals Programme (YPP) and the Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Programme are initiatives to recruit young professionals into the United Nations system. However, they differ in various ways. Here is a quick overview:

#4 UN Volunteer Programme

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. As an international UN Volunteer you’ll receive a monthly living allowance (VLA) of USD 1800 – 3500 depending on the location. Note that UN Volunteers are not considered official UN staff members instead they are considered UN personnel. To be eligible you must be at least 18 years old, with age requirements varying for different categories: UN Youth Volunteers must be 18-26, specialists 27 and older, and experts 35 and above. Specific roles might have additional academic, professional, and language criteria. All UN Volunteers should align with UN values and principles, adapt to diverse environments, including challenging locations, and possess strong professional and interpersonal skills. International UN Volunteer assignments may generally last 3 to 12 months with a maximum period of 4 years. The terms and conditions change frequently so make sure you do not rely on my article but check the official website for the latest information. In the meantime you might find these two documents useful: Volunteer Conditions of Service Changes 2021 and International Youth Volunteer ToS 2023 . UNV has furthermore built a very useful platform to learn about issues like Do I need to pay taxes on my VLA in my country?

Where UNV positions are advertised: 

  • UN Volunteers App

#5 International Staff Positions (P1, P2, P3)

The United Nations has various staff categories with different levels indicating increasing responsibilities and requirements. Understanding these categories and levels is crucial when considering and applying for UN jobs. In general the UN separates these positions into entry level (P1, P2, P3) and higher level categories. P-1 positions require no previous working experience and are extremely rare. While P-2 and P-3 positions require at least 2 and 5 years of experience. Positions for these levels can be found on the official websites:

6 Tips for Getting a Job at the UN

Getting a job at the UN is not easy. Here are some general tips that have helped me and others in successfully landing a job at the UN. Make sure you don’t understand this as a recipe. There is no manual for getting a UN job. The bottom line is that you need the required qualifications, you need to excel at your job and you need to have luck. Being in the right place at the right time can go a long way. Nevertheless, there are additional things you can do to enhance your chances:

#1 Consider focusing on a niche skill or topic

While the UN works across many sectors, there are always specific areas and skills that are in higher demand or are underrepresented. My focus is education technology and this area of work is so much in demand currently that I generally have a higher chance of a successful job application because there are less applicants. If you can carve out a specific niche in your CV and hone a specific skill, it can give you an advantage. All topics that relate to modern technologies are normally a good bet but also other emerging topics and trends are a good choice.

#2 Get field experience

Before I entered the human rights world, I worked as a lecturer for literature and language in Egypt. This coincided with the Egyptian revolution, where I learnt so much about human kindness, justice and injustices, human rights and myself. If you have the chance to travel and obtain any kind of relevant field experience, this will advance your chances of getting a job at the UN. Not necessarily because its part of the job description but because it changes your perspective and provides you with learning opportunities. If you get hired directly into an office job it gets much harder to get the field experience later because you are used to the comforts that come with it and arrange your life accordingly.

#3 Learn languages

It is no secret that language skills at the UN are important. You’ll work in multilingual teams on multilingual projects. So if you can, learn more than one of the official UN languages. While languages are important, don’t assume you’ll never get a UN job without enough language skills. I speak German and English fluently and a bit of Spanish. That’s not very impressive but I got recruited anyway. Yet, in some UN jobs language skills can make all the difference, especially if you have a less usual language combination or speak a language of a local community where the UN is active.

#4 Be present and network

Networking means building meaningful relationships with others in your work area. Let others know who you are, what you are passionate about, what your goals are and what you are looking for. If they have a good relationship with you, they’ll think of you and vouch for you when an opportunity comes up. While today networking also happens a lot in the digital space, don’t underestimate the power of being physically present when you attend e.g. a human rights movie night, a networking event or a poetry slam.

#5 Don’t waste your time

Securing a position with the UN often comes with its fair share of rejections. Rather than solely focusing on your ideal roles, be open and remain receptive to diverse opportunities. Remember, many pathways to the UN are winding, not linear. Not securing a position by age 32 doesn’t close all doors; You’ll have numerous chances to join the UN later in your career. Starting with a smaller NGO can be highly fulfilling. Engaging closely with beneficiaries and assuming significant responsibilities early can give you a great insight into the direct impact of your contributions. Such experiences, often more intimate than being in a high-security office setup, can ignite a passion that fuels your professional journey for years.

#6 Follow your passion

In today’s job world following your passion isn’t a luxury, it’s essential to stay competitive. If you care about an issue you’ll learn faster and be more creative. Note that there might be many ways to nurture and follow your passion. Even if you dream specifically of a career at the UN, there might be other ways to get a similar level of satisfaction from a different job. Don’t rule out other great international organizations and NGOs that are doing fantastic work for human rights. Their impact is just as significant.

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About the author, robert fellner.

Robert is founder of Human Rights Careers (HRC). A platform with the aim to support human rights students, alumni, graduates and professionals in pursuing and developing their career in human rights. Prior to launching HRC, Robert worked as Global Human Rights EdTech Manager at Amnesty International in London and as consultant for international human rights organizations globally. During 2011 and 2012, Robert worked as lecturer at Ain Shams university in Egypt. Robert has a masters in literature and human rights.

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Applying for UN positions

Applying for a job at the un.

The UN Careers website provides a great deal of information on the application processes for job openings at the UN – this UN Careers introduction is a great place to start. We will not attempt to reproduce this material in full, but instead will give candidates an introduction to the processes, and provide links to further information, tips and advice.

Searching for UN job openings

All advertisements for job openings at the UN are posted on the UN Careers website – scroll down and select options from the drop down menus in order to search available openings. A list of the openings which corresponds to the search terms will then be displayed.

To view details of a job opening, simply click on the job title and you’ll be taken to a job description page. This page will list the job title, the Department or Office in which it’s located, the duty station (location) and the period for which the application is open. It will also give details on the responsibilities associated with the position, the competencies - or skills - required to carry out the role, and information about the necessary educational qualifications, work experience and language skills.

Introduction to Inspira

All applications are made through Inspira, the UN’s electronic application process. UN Careers provides their own introduction to the Inspira system in their how to get started with Inspira guide. Candidates should also read Inspira at a Glance , another introductory guide.

Applying through Inspira

When a candidate feels comfortable with the basics, they should study the Manual for the Applicant .  This explains all the stages of the Inspira application process and gives more information on how applicants are assessed.

The process to apply through Inspira is fairly complex – we recommend that candidates read all available information in detail to ensure that their applications have the best possible chance of proceeding through the assessment process.

UNA-UK is not an office of the UN and receives no funding from the UN system. We are not involved with UN recruitment processes and beyond guidance we provide, we cannot help you secure a job at the UN.

However, UNA-UK does employ permanent members of staff and hosts volunteers at its London office. Find out more about employment and internship opportunities with UNA-UK  here .

Stay up-to-date with UNA-UK opportunities, activities, campaigns and events by becoming a UNA-UK  supporter .

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How to start a UN career

Ways to land a job with the UN


Where should you begin your career search to finding a UN job?

Top tips shared by a UN insider

There is not simply one single route to finding a UN role there are many, this post will share possible routes to a job in the UN system.

So lets start with the type of roles you can apply for to begin your dream career journey:

Regular Staff at the UN

Temporary Staff

Young Professional Programmes often referred to as UN YPP

Language based roles requiring an assessment



Junior professional officer programme (formerly the associate expert programme)


There is also one last route which is commonly over looked which is project or programme based work through an external management consultancy such as Deloitte but this may require you to have some specialist background knowledge on your field so is not a route for an entry candidate.

1. Regular Staff at the UN

The main headquarters of the UN houses the regular staff of the UN and the following role grades.

Senior positions (these are referred to as SG, DSG, USG)

Professionals and directors (these categories are referred to as P & D)

Administrative Officers (referred to as G, General Service)

Local Officers (National Officers)

Employees "in the field" (Field Service)

These roles typically require at least 3 years of experience in a relevant field, post graduate studies such as Masters and additional languages will also stand you in good stead for these categories of role. However for those looking at entry-level positions or with less experience the best roles to look for to get your foot in the door are the local officers and administrative officer roles, as with any UN role there is a lot of competition so tailor your application.

2. Temporary Staff

These roles provide an opportunity to find a vacancy in the UN for candidates looking for a career move but perhaps not yet ready to take the leap to a permanent role or possibly looking to find a stepping stone to build a UN career. These roles are targeted to those with experience and range in their contract length from as little as 3 months to a year.

3. Young Professional Programmes often referred to as UN YPP

Every year the UN opens up recruitment to the next generation of young talented individuals and it requires a lengthy application and selection process with the end goal of being offered a professional category position at level P-1 or P-2. A common route into the UN for many however a special piece of guidance here is the programme is to cater for candidates in countries where there is little representation in the UN. It is also worth noting this is again very competitive with limited spaces diminishing every year. If you feel you fit this criteria start by reviewing the UNYPP site .

4. Language based roles requiring an assessment

Are you a translator or editor? Then you are best placed for this route in to start your UN career. The UN runs a programme for translators and editors with to build its interpreter skill-base. The key here is to know the UN official languages and be skilled in at least 3 of them to high proficiency.

The Official UN languages are English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic but those with German may also benefit given the UN has headquarters in Vienna, Austria and also Geneva Switzerland.

All candidates go through standard recruitment consisting of:


Written test

If you succeed you will be placed on the UN roster, think of the roster as a gateway to allow you to apply for professional posts around the globe working for the UN. Top tip here, if you are serious to simply secure a chance to work for the UN, then look beyond the typical UN headquarters of NYC, Vienna & Geneva as these are the most popular.

5. Volunteering

Volunteering at the UN could come in 2 forms:

UN Youth Volunteer programme (open to candidates aged 18 - 29 years of age)

No specific work experience or postgraduate diploma is required for this programme. The individual volunteer posts may have specific sets of preferred skills so adapt your application to the post you find.

UN Volunteers (open to candidates aged 25 years of age and above)

You will require a postgraduate diploma and at least 2 years of experience with language proficiency in English, French or Spanish

Please note volunteers do receive a monthly fee (not a salary) to cover daily expenses such as accommodation, food and transport

As with most volunteer programmes the opportunities are likely to be higher in areas with high demand for support such as South Sudan or countries in need of support for relief efforts.

For more information visit the UN volunteer site

6. Internships

Are you in higher education looking to build your experience or simply keen to get your foot in the UN? The UN offers a unique opportunity to apply yourself to many different job types in UN locations across the globe including the headquarters located in Nairobi, New York, Vienna and Geneva.

The key thing to note though is for those not able to support themselves financially all internships are not paid. Also unlike many other industries, where an internship is a building block to a possible role when you finish, the UN organization you intern with are not permitted to offer you a role after the internship.

See this opportunity as a way to begin your UN network and find from the inside which role you aspire to so you can build your skills and apply to the right future role. See more on the UN official site

7. Junior professional officer programme (JPO is formerly known as the Associate Expert programme)

The UN JPO is suitable for those skilled graduates seeking to apply their skills in the UN after finishing University and having already gained significant experience (2 years minimum). The programme is centred on those that have studied in the following fields:

Political science

Social science

Human Rights

Programme Management

Public Administration

Economic Affairs

Environmental Affairs

Gender Affairs

For more information visit the UN JPO page

8. Consultants

Do you have specialist skills? Be those in Information Technology, Design, Social Affairs or perhaps medicine, then the consultant role is perhaps the best route for you. See the UN official Consultant page for more details on the most recent consultant jobs available.

Curious to learn more on how to kickstart your international career?

The United Career Coalition gives you the unique chance to learn from UN insiders what you need to kickstart your international dream career!

Watch UCCs 60min webinar series with UCC's special guests, UN experts and NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNERs who share their stories, tips and secrets.

Get advice which UN system roles are the right fit for you! Understand why being adaptable and focusing on transferrable skills is key and get tips & tricks on how to tailor your application documents and LinkedIn profile towards your desired international career.

Learn about mistakes to avoid, common misconceptions and why UCC thinks what may seem like tricky times may very well be an opportunity in the making!

The full 60min webinar can be downloaded on UCC’s website webinar on demand page !

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How to Get a Job With the United Nations

Last Updated: December 30, 2022 Approved

This article was co-authored by Amber Rosenberg, PCC . Amber Rosenberg is a Professional Life Coach, Career Coach, and Executive Coach based in the San Francisco Bay Area. As the owner of Pacific Life Coach, she has 20+ years of coaching experience and a background in corporations, tech companies, and nonprofits. Amber trained with the Coaches Training Institute and is a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF). wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 40 testimonials and 100% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 3,380,696 times.

Whether you want to prevent environmental degradation, help impoverished areas develop their economies, or advance progressive causes, the United Nations may have the ideal job for you. The UN is a huge employer and offers opportunities for advancement and career variety comparable to those found in large private companies. Competition for most positions is fierce, but with a lot of preparation and a little luck, you may land your dream job with the UN.

Preparing to Apply

Step 1 Research career options at the UN.

  • The UN Official website ( )
  • The UN Channel website ( )
  • The UN Job List website ( )

Step 2 Decide what staff category you want to pursue.

  • Professional and higher categories (P and D)
  • General Service and related categories (G, TC, S, PIA, LT)
  • National Professional Officers (NO)
  • Field Service (FS)
  • Senior Appointments (SG, DSG, USG and ASG)

Step 3 Make sure you have the required education and experience.

  • Fluency in English or French , the working languages of the organization. Fluency in additional languages, particularly Arabic , Chinese , Spanish , or Russian , is helpful for most positions.
  • A bachelor's degree or higher. Some lower-level generalist positions (mostly clerical or secretarial jobs in the General Service category) require only a high school diploma and, usually, relevant work experience, but most positions in the UN require at least a bachelor’s degree . Many specialist positions require advanced degrees in the area of speciality.
  • Work experience in a related field. Depending on the position you are applying for, you might need anywhere from 1 - 7 years of work experience.

Applying for a Job

Step 1 Browse available jobs.

  • You can complete the PHP right away, or come back later. It will take between 30 minutes to one hour to complete, and you can save a partially completed profile at any time and return to finish it.
  • Ensure that your PHP is thorough, detailed, accurate, and picture-perfect. When you apply for a position, the PHP is the first (and, initially, only) thing the recruiter will see. If you don’t do a good job of representing your qualifications, or if your profile is marred by spelling or grammar mistakes, your application will be passed over.
  • You can continue to update your PHP at any time, but make sure it is in perfect condition when you actually apply for a listed vacancy.

Step 4 Select the job for which you're applying.

  • Provide an e-mail address so that they can acknowledge your application. If you don’t get such acknowledgement within 24 hours, contact them again for confirmation.

Step 6 Wait for an interview invitation.

Applying to the Young Professionals Programme

Step 1 Make sure you're eligible.

  • Be 32 years or younger
  • Hold at least a first-level university degree in one of the job families offered [3] X Research source
  • Be fluent in either English or French
  • Be a national of a participating country

Step 2 Register for a “My UN” account.

  • Make sure you fill out the space for your "Country of Nationality" with a country participating in the YPP program.

Step 4 Apply for a job.

  • After completing the forms, click "Apply Now" to submit your application. You'll need to answer a few screening questions and agree with the terms to successfully submit the application. You will receive an email confirmation that your application was received.
  • Your application will be evaluated, and you will either be invited to take the examination or informed that you are not eligible.

Step 5 Take the written examination.

  • Receiving an endorsement doesn't automatically mean you will get a job. While the chances are quite high, getting an offer is dependent on job availability in your job family.
  • If your interview is not successful, you'll be contacted by the Central Examinations Board to let you know that you did not receive an endorsement.

Expert Q&A

Amber Rosenberg, PCC

  • By all means try to find out more information by e-mail or telephone . Things to ask include whether the position is one that an existing lower-level UN employee acting in that position is trying to get permanently. This will give you an indication of what you’re up against. Equally, don’t be surprised if seeking information proves difficult. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Be very, very careful in putting together your application. Check for spelling errors, gaps in information, sloppy grammar, etc. Remember that every little slip-up is an excuse to eliminate your application, and recruiters will likely be inundated with applications. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Gender can be an advantage: Article 8 of the UN Charter indicates, "The United Nations shall place no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs." However, a rule exists in the UN recruitment policy (ST/AI/2006/3, Section 9.3) that provides an eligibility advantage to women if there are a couple of candidates who are found to be suitable for a particular role. If one of them is female and the other one is male, and if women are underrepresented at that level/in that division the position will be offered to the female candidate. Gender balance is also considered for men. However, men are over-represented in most professional levels roles and under-represented in general service-level roles (the opposite for women). Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

apply for a un job

  • Be ready to wait a very long time after the position closes for any contact. Eight (8) months is not unusual. Thanks Helpful 55 Not Helpful 13
  • Don’t send extra information about yourself unless you are asked for it. Doing so will irritate the recruiters, who will view it as trying to go outside the bureaucratic process and they may use it as an excuse to bypass you. If you get an interview, that will be your chance to shine. Thanks Helpful 9 Not Helpful 0
  • Don’t apply willy-nilly for jobs for which you’re not qualified as the interviewers have long memories and may take advantage of any excuse to weed out people from a huge employment pool. Prior applications will remain on your employment file, so be judicious. Thanks Helpful 5 Not Helpful 0
  • Be prepared for a rigorous interview process if you are lucky enough to get that far. It may involve several rounds if you are selected to go further in the process. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 2
  • The U.N. does not accept general applications or resumes. Unless otherwise noted, you must use the online application system to apply for vacancies. Thanks Helpful 7 Not Helpful 3
  • Be aware that working with the United Nations may not necessarily be the challenging, glamorous, “save the world” job you’re looking for. Do your research and look at books written by people who have worked in the United Nations. While the pay and benefits are great, many employees are quickly disenchanted by the stifling bureaucracy, lack of creativity, inability to utilize initiative, and nepotistic favouritism. All the same, things won’t get better unless idealistic, strong-minded and determined people get in there and change it for the better. Just be fully aware of the downsides as well as the advantages. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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About This Article

Amber Rosenberg, PCC

If you think you want to get a job with the UN, research the career options at the UN and see which areas interest you. Once you choose a work category, get a bachelor’s degree in that field. It also helps to learn French or another language. Then, create a “My UN” account and fill in your “Personal History Profile.” Next, search their website for job openings and apply to as many as you like. Be patient since it can take some time for them to get back with you. For tips on applying to the Young Professionals Program, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Work with us Vacancies and calls for proposals from UNDRR.

Important information

All job openings in the UN Secretariat are published on the United Nations Careers Portal . When you apply for a job, you must submit an application in the UN online recruitment system called Inspira.

The Inspira application is an extended online resume called Personal History profile (PHP), specifically used by the United Nations Secretariat, where you articulate your education, professional experience and language skills. The application is used to evaluate your eligibility and suitability for the job. Applications received after the closing date are not accepted. Only candidates under serious consideration are contacted.

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Fake employment offers for the United Nations and in particular for the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) are currently circulating.

If you are approached with an employment offer, please check that the vacancy is advertised on .

Please also note that the United Nations does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview meeting, processing or training).

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