Okay, so this will be the last job post for awhile.
For work reasons I have had to deal with the UN Mission in Iraq on several occasions, and along with having partied with them at their Erbil compound, have for personal reasons asked the question: “So, what’s the best way to get hired?” And each every time I’ve been told there’s no secret code, you just have to apply. And get lucky, because there are a hell of a lot of people from around the world who are applying too.
This page and this one both have the most comprehensive set of links for the career pages of the numerous organizations within the UN system. But the website UN Jobs (which includes positions with other international organizations like the World Bank) is easier to sort by country, and has over 2000 positions listed in over 221 different locations (interesting note: there are 88 vacancies currently listed in the USA). For jobs with the UN Development Program, click here. And if you’re interested in working on a UN Peace Support Mission, click here.
Be advised that for most people a UN job will be out of immediate reach unless you’re already working within the UN system or have several years experience in the development or humanitarian aid communities. So if you’re in college or just looking for a career change, there is a good chance you’re going to have to start at the bottom and work your way into a position. The good news is that there are tons of openings, so it’s not impossible.
Some other advice: Whatever country you want to work in, it’s a good idea to already know the local language and/or have a lot of experience in country. Most UN hires will be locals or returnees with experience in the language and culture. If you’re a foreign expat with this experience, your chances of being hired increase considerably. (Note that fluency in at least two of the six official languages of the UN is a huge plus for any job you’re applying to). Also, if you don’t have relevant language skills, you better make sure you have special skills and experiences that your average applicant won’t have . . . like having worked before with the UN or an international organization, some form of training in UN operations, or technical expertise in a particular subject area that takes years to become a specialist in (like water sanitation, assisting internally displaced people and refugees, or food security, to name just a few). In many cases, prior experience as a diplomat, military officer, or government official also helps.
Finally, consider becoming a UN Volunteer. As with UN internships or the Peace Corps, it is a great way get some much needed on-the-ground experience in development assistance or humanitarian aid and peacekeeping operations. You must be willing to commit at least six months or a year, but you’ll get a living allowance to cover basic living expenses, free travel on appointment and at the end of assignment, and life, health and permanent disability insurance. There’s also annual leave given and a resettlement allowance for when you return. But the greatest benefit will be the skills and job experience you will acquire, which can otherwise be incredibly hard to get. And who knows, you may be able to network way into a paid position with the UN mission or program in the country where you’re working. After all, you’ll already know the local culture and have an understanding of how the mission there operates.