7 Steps to get a job in the United Nations

How long does the UN recruitment process take?

8 steps of the selection process for hiring employees

The United Nations recruitment process can vary depending on the organization, the position, and the applicant pool. In general, the process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Here's a rough timeline for some of the UN organizations you mentioned:

UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees):

The recruitment process for UNHCR typically takes between 2 and 4 months. This includes the initial application screening, any assessments or tests, interviews, reference checks, and the final offer. However, the timeline can vary depending on the urgency of the position, the number of applicants, and other factors.

WFP (World Food Programme):

The recruitment process for WFP can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 4 months, depending on the position and the number of applicants. The process usually involves an initial application screening, an online test for some positions, interviews, and reference checks. Again, the exact timeline can vary based on various factors.

UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund):

The recruitment process for UNICEF usually takes between 2 and 6 months. Similar to other UN organizations, the process includes application screening, assessments or tests (if applicable), interviews, reference checks, and the final offer. The timeline can vary depending on factors such as the position, urgency, and number of applicants.

Please note that these timelines are approximate and may vary depending on individual circumstances and organizational needs. It's important to be patient and regularly check your email for any updates or notifications regarding your application status.

UNDP (United Nations Development Programme).

The recruitment process for UNDP typically takes between 2 and 4 months, although it can be shorter or longer depending on the circumstances. The process usually involves the following steps:

  1. Application submission: Candidates submit their applications through the UNDP jobs portal or other specified platforms.
  2. Application screening: UNDP's human resources team reviews the applications and shortlists candidates based on the job requirements.
  3. Assessments or tests: For some positions, candidates may be required to complete written assessments or technical tests to evaluate their skills and knowledge.
  4. Interviews: Shortlisted candidates are invited for interviews, which may be conducted in person, by phone, or via video conference.
  5. Reference checks: If a candidate passes the interview stage, UNDP conducts reference checks with their previous employers or professional contacts.
  6. Final offer and onboarding: Successful candidates receive a job offer and proceed with the onboarding process, which may include medical clearance, security clearance, and visa arrangements (if applicable).

Please note that these timelines are approximate and may vary depending on individual circumstances and organizational needs. It's essential to be patient and regularly check your email for any updates or notifications regarding your application status.

Why is it so long?

The lengthy recruitment process at the United Nations and its various agencies can be attributed to several factors:

  1. High volume of applications: UN job openings often attract a large number of applicants from around the world, which increases the time needed for screening and evaluating each candidate.
  2. Bureaucracy and organizational structure: The UN and its agencies have complex organizational structures and follow strict bureaucratic procedures to ensure transparency and fairness in their hiring processes. These procedures can contribute to the length of the recruitment process.
  3. Multiple stages of assessment: The recruitment process at the UN often involves several assessment stages, including application screening, written tests, interviews, and reference checks. These stages are designed to evaluate a candidate's skills, qualifications, and fit for the position, but they also add time to the process.
  4. International nature of the organization: The UN recruits candidates from diverse geographical locations, which can lead to logistical challenges, such as coordinating interviews across different time zones or obtaining necessary work permits and visas.
  5. Background checks and clearances: UN positions often require extensive background checks, security clearances, and medical examinations to ensure that candidates meet the organization's standards. These additional steps can prolong the recruitment process.
  6. Decision-making and approvals: The UN recruitment process often involves multiple levels of decision-making and approvals, which can be time-consuming.
  7. Budget constraints and organizational priorities: Sometimes, the recruitment process may be delayed due to budget constraints, organizational priorities, or changes in staffing needs.

Despite the length of the recruitment process, the United Nations aims to ensure a transparent, fair, and thorough evaluation of all candidates to select the most qualified individuals for each position. As a candidate, it's essential to be patient and stay proactive in monitoring your application status and responding to any requests for additional information.

Temporary Appointment recruitment

A Temporary Appointment (TA) contract may indeed be processed more quickly than a Fixed-Term Appointment (FTA) or other types of contracts at the United Nations or its agencies. This is because TAs are generally issued for shorter durations, often to fill urgent needs or temporary vacancies in the organization.

However, it's important to note that the speed of the hiring process for any contract type can still vary depending on factors such as the specific organization, position, location, and the number of applicants.

While TA contracts may be processed faster, they typically offer fewer benefits and less job security compared to FTAs or other long-term contracts. Therefore, it's important to consider your career goals and personal preferences when deciding which type of contract to pursue.

If you are interested in a TA contract with the United Nations or its agencies, regularly monitor the UN jobs portal and subscribe to job alerts to stay informed about temporary positions that match your skills and interests. Keep your application materials up-to-date and be prepared to respond promptly to any requests for additional information or interviews to maximize your chances of securing a TA contract.

Local and international recruitment

The recruitment process at the United Nations and its agencies can be lengthy for both local and international hiring due to the factors previously mentioned, such as high volume of applications, bureaucracy, multiple assessment stages, background checks, and decision-making processes.

However, there might be some differences in the duration of the hiring process for local and international positions:

Local hiring: For local positions, such as those under Service Contracts, the recruitment process may be somewhat quicker, as candidates are sourced from the local area, and there are fewer logistical challenges related to visas, work permits, and relocation. However, the process can still take several weeks to a few months.

International hiring: For international positions, such as those under Fixed-Term Appointments or Temporary Appointments, the recruitment process can be longer due to the need for additional clearances, coordination across different time zones, and arrangements related to relocation, visas, and work permits. In these cases, the hiring process can take several months.

While the recruitment process can be lengthy for both local and international hiring, it's important to be patient and persistent when applying for a position with the UN or its agencies. By following the tips previously provided, such as tailoring your application, preparing for interviews and assessments, and promptly responding to communications, you can help ensure your application moves as smoothly and efficiently as possible through the recruitment process.