A Word of Caution
Before you start looking for work at the UN you should be aware that there is an increasing number of fake job offers soliciting fees from applicants circulating on the Internet. Note 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). The United Nations does not concern itself with information on bank accounts.
In general to work for the UN in any capacity you will need to have either a university or Masters degree and have a working knowledge of either English or French.
There are four main routes into working with the UN:
- As a volunteer
- As an intern
- As a member of staff
- As a consultant
We describe the first three of these below. A consultant is generally a short-term role for a highly qualified individual.
To work as a UN volunteer you must be at least 22 years old and have either a higher technical diploma, a university or Masters degree. There are two main areas that volunteers work
- In countries where the UN has peace or development projects
- Online to support sustainable development projects
You can search for volunteer opportunities using the links below. You can register as a volunteer at the UN Careers website by clicking the Login link at the top of the page.
More about UN Volunteering
Many UN agencies and offices recruit interns who generally work for 6 or 12 months without pay or any assistance with travel, insurance, accomodation or subsistence.
This could be very expensive and you are recommended to ensure you have enough money to cover the costs before embarking on this route. In addition it will not guarantee you a job within the UN, but it will almost certainly give you valuable experience and something to add to your CV.
Before you apply you need to research the various UN agencies that recruit interns and apply to the most suitable one. See the links below.
Once you have decided your target agency, it is a good idea to also research the work they are doing and find out more about the people who work there. You might want to contact somebody within the agency to clarify any questions you might have about their current programmes to ensure they will be relevant to your career ambitions.
Who can be a United Nations intern?
You need excellent command of English or French.
You must not be a child or a sibling of a United Nations Secretariat staff member.
You must be one of the following:
- either enrolled in a Master’s or in a 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 or Ph.D. programme?
More information about UN Internships
If you want to work for the UN Secretariat
Recruitment into the Secretariat is handled by the Office of Human Resources Management (OCRM).
You are advised first to research the UN’s 8 job networks (see below) which help to promote careers opportunities for existing staff members. This will tell you the types of roles available and the fields that the UN operates within.
Each network is a flexible grouping of departments and offices whose areas of work are closely linked. They reflect the broad nature of the work the UN undertakes. The 8 job networks are as follows:
- Economic and Social Development
- Management and Operations Support
- Political, Peace and Security
- Information Systems and Communication Technology
- Public Information and External Relations
- Conference Management
- Safety and Security
Find out more about the UN’s job networks on the UN Careers website.
UN Young Professionals Programme (YPP)
What is the UN Young Professionals Programme?
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 and professional development programmes once successful candidates start their career with the UN.
Who can apply?
The YPP examination is held once a year and is open to nationals of countries participating in the annual recruitment exercise. The list of participating countries is published annually and varies from year to year.
More Information about YPP
Sample YPP exam questions (Warning: not an official UN website so be cautious) Note also that the questions change depending upon which location you are applying to work for.
United Nations Careers
The UN Careers website contains information about why and how to apply to work at the UN. Scroll down the page to search for current vacancies.
Registering with the UN Careers Website
Anyone can register with the above website, whether they work for the UN already or not. Click on Login in the top menu (which takes you to the inspira website) and then click Register Now. You can register as a Volunteer.
See this PDF for more information about the registration process.
If you want to work for a UN Agency
There is no centralised recruitment system for the many UN-related agencies. You need to identify which agency you wish to work for and visit their website for details of their vacancies. Here are some examples:
Other Routes into the UN Secretariat
There are several programmes available for young professionals seeking entry to the UN system: the Junior Professional Officer programme (JPO), the Young Professionals Programme (YPP), and the Associate Expert Programme (AEP).
The UN also offers a range of unpaid positions, including a host of internships and volunteering opportunities. An internship with the UN is the ideal way to gain exposure to the inner working of the Organisation and can be undertaken at UN Offices worldwide, as well as the wider UN family of organisations.
Volunteering opportunities are available through United Nations Volunteers (UNV). UN Volunteers make a huge contribution to peace and development around the world, whilst at the same time gaining essential experience and enhancing their employment prospects.
Working to serve the world
Want to find out how to share your skills and knowledge with multilateral organisations?
Working Globally is a group of organisations including the UN, FCO and the Universities of Reading and Durham, that have come together to offer a range of online materials that can help you identify roles within multilateral bodies.
Details on the posts available, databases that individuals can register with and information on how to go forward for posts is available.
To find out more, click here.