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How To Get A Job With The UN

Have you always wanted to work for the UN? What, with their dollar salaries, medical benefits, work-life balance and support...

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How To Get A Job With The UN

Have you always wanted to work for the UN? What, with their dollar salaries, medical benefits, work-life balance and support infrastructure. I would be lying if I said it has not crossed my mind. Multiple times. And the UN knows how so many of us hanker for a slice of that delicious pie. This is why when the UN held an outreach webinar for HerNovators, attendance was in the hundreds.

HerNovation, powered by CIO, has strategically partnered with brands that align with her expanding agenda: wentors.com for mentorship, Toastmasters Nairobi for public speaking training and Dale Carnegie for fully-fledged soft skills, and finally, CSR.

The jobs, a P3 and a P5 opportunity. P5 is a mid-level manager position for a qualified person with a minimum of 10 years experience. P3 is an entry-level position requiring a minimum of five years’ experience. The outreach intends to expand the pool of candidates applying to the UN. “We regularly see that in ICT, information management and the growing field of data management, the male to female ratio is not positive. There are significantly more men applying and coming through which is wonderful for them. But we need to bring in more women into that pool. We need you to understand why we want to work with you, and why we want you to make a successful entry,” begins Kate McBride, Head of ICT at the UN office in Nairobi (UNON).

She introduces us to the world of United Nations stating that “We are looking for people who are really interested in tackling issues and realities that affect people, our partners and our planet, and people that can help inspire those of us who have been with the UN for 20+ years. We want newcomers to bring in new and innovative ideas and thinking. Minds that will continue to have a positive impact.”

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There is a running joke that the UN attracts, curates and collects all kinds of bedfellows. This does have some truth to it. And the idea behind it is to create a diverse, inclusive workplace. “You need to know that coming in. That you will be working with beautifully different people with different ideas and ways of thinking. We are looking for that very open mindset that sees diversity as a strength.”

As for the P3 and P5 careers in tech that inspired this outreach, women are strongly encouraged to apply. There is a very solid alliance of supportive, encouraging, mentoring environment, network and of women in the UN. It fits with one of McBride’s goals which is that “women be empowered with a personal development mindset and to be receiving positive feedback and constructive improvement.” Opportunities start from entry-level with one to three years, all the way up to 15 years experience.

What is the UN looking for?
– A solution-driven mindset that values and seeks to attract diversity – of thinking, appearance, approach. One that says there is something there and I can make it better.
– The UN is very interested in cost-effective and green-driven IT by looking not just at its value for money, but also at the environmental impact of a solution.
– Commitment to making a change within a certain time frame. The UN is involved in many different spheres from peace operations to development plans so agility is required.

Isabelle Colin, Human Resources Officer, UN who works largely in recruitment offers pragmatic advice. Here are her pointers.
– If you are new to the system, look for a job that matches your experience and skills. Head to career.un.org and search.
– When you find a job that you think is right for you, the first thing you have to do is create your personal history profile (PHP). Take special note of the opening and closing dates. “I always advise that you apply as soon as possible because sometimes and often, your application will be looked at early on, points out Colin.” But. Don’t be too hasty to be first in line either.
– Take time to fill in your application. This is how you will get shortlisted especially if your work experience is matching with the required and desirable skills that are in the job opening. Don’t do it in 30 minutes or in a day. It can take two to three days.
– Tailor your application to what is indicated in the job opening and use keywords. When you apply for a position, you will see the hiring manager indicate in the work experience an important item that is critical for them. Add it to your descriptions, responsibilities and achievements in your PHP.
– The Job Fit questions, a segment that has a video guide, is just as important as your cover letter and must be given the attention it deserves.
– If you are shortlisted, you will be invited for a written test. If further shortlisted, you will be invited to a competency-based interview. The latter will be made up of three panel members at the same level as the job opening or higher. You will be expected to give examples of competencies.
– If you do not make it, you will be placed on the roster as a candidate. It means if you have not been admitted for the position you applied for, say P5, but you are in the roster for your level of qualification (P5), you can be rostered for the P5 at that specific level and that specific title. That way, in the future, you can apply for a P5 position and title, and the line manager will automatically pick you off the roster without even interviewing you.
– One last thing. Navigating the UN system is quite different from any other be it in the private sector, NGOs and other entities. For instance, the recruiting process will take 6 to 8 months.

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