How to Apply in the United Nations: A Comprehensive Guide

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Are you passionate about making a difference on a global scale? Have you ever considered working for the United Nations (UN), an organization dedicated to promoting peace, sustainable development, and human rights worldwide? If so, understanding the application process is crucial. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to apply for positions in the United Nations. Whether you aspire to be a diplomat, humanitarian worker, or policy advisor, this guide will help you navigate the UN’s recruitment system with confidence.

United Nations Application Process

Step 1: Explaining the UN’s Online Recruitment System

The United Nations utilizes an online recruitment system to streamline the application process. This system allows candidates to create a personal profile, search for suitable positions, and submit their application documents electronically. By familiarizing yourself with this system, you can efficiently navigate through the various stages of the application process.

Step 2: Creating a Personal Profile

To apply for positions in the United Nations, you need to create a personal profile on the UN Careers Portal. This profile serves as your professional resume and allows you to showcase your qualifications, work experience, and skills. Make sure to provide accurate and up-to-date information to increase your chances of being shortlisted for potential opportunities.

Step 3: Searching and Applying for Suitable Positions

Once your profile is complete, you can start searching for suitable positions within the United Nations. The UN Careers Portal provides a user-friendly search feature that allows you to filter job vacancies based on your preferred criteria. Carefully review the job descriptions, requirements, and deadlines for each position of interest. Tailor your application to highlight how your skills and experience align with the specific requirements of the role.

Step 4: Submitting Application Documents

When applying for a position in the United Nations, you will typically be required to submit specific application documents, such as a cover letter, curriculum vitae (CV), and academic credentials. It is crucial to carefully follow the instructions provided and ensure that your documents are well-organized, error-free, and tailored to the position you are applying for. Pay attention to language proficiency requirements and any additional documents requested by the UN.

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Requirements for United Nations Applications

To increase your chances of success in the United Nations application process, it is essential to meet the specific requirements set by the organization. Here are some key aspects to consider:

Educational Qualifications

The United Nations seeks candidates with a strong educational background. While the specific educational requirements may vary depending on the position, having a relevant degree is often a prerequisite. Some roles may require advanced degrees or specialized knowledge in fields such as international relations, law, economics, or social sciences. Ensure that you meet the educational criteria specified for each position of interest.

Work Experience and Skills

In addition to educational qualifications, the United Nations values practical work experience. Demonstrating relevant professional experience, particularly in areas related to the position you are applying for, can significantly enhance your application. The UN also values transferrable skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving abilities. Highlighting your accomplishments and providing concrete examples of how you have applied these skills can make your application stand out.

Language Proficiency

As a global organization, the United Nations places great importance on language skills. Proficiency in English is typically required, as it is the primary working language of the UN. Additionally, depending on the position and duty station, proficiency in one or more official UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish) may be necessary. Clearly indicate your language skills in your application, and consider obtaining language certifications to validate your proficiency.

Other Criteria and Desirable Qualifications

Apart from the core requirements, the United Nations may have additional criteria and desirable qualifications for specific positions. These can include specialized technical knowledge, experience in specific regions, familiarity with UN protocols, or expertise in certain thematic areas. Familiarize yourself with the requirements outlined in the job descriptions and ensure that you address them in your application.

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Tips for a Successful United Nations Application

To make your United Nations application stand out from the competition, consider these valuable tips:

Tailoring Your Application for Specific Positions

The United Nations offers a wide range of roles across different areas. Tailoring your application to match the specific requirements of each position is essential. Take the time to understand the job description, identify key skills, and highlight how your experience aligns with the role. Avoid using generic cover letters or resumes; instead, craft personalized and compelling documents that make a strong case for your suitability for the position.

Highlighting Relevant Experience and Achievements

When applying for a position in the United Nations, it is crucial to showcase your relevant experience and achievements. Provide specific examples of projects you have worked on, initiatives you have led, or challenges you have overcome. Quantify your achievements whenever possible to demonstrate the impact of your work. By highlighting your accomplishments, you can demonstrate your ability to contribute effectively to the UN’s mission and goals.

Emphasizing Language Skills and Multilingualism

As mentioned earlier, language proficiency is highly valued in the United Nations. Emphasize your language skills and multilingual abilities in your application. If you are fluent in one or more official UN languages, make sure to clearly indicate this. Multilingual candidates often have an advantage in roles that require interaction with diverse stakeholders from around the world.

Showcasing Knowledge of the United Nations and Its Values

Demonstrating your knowledge of the United Nations and its values is essential. Familiarize yourself with the UN’s mission, objectives, and key initiatives. Highlight how your values align with those of the organization and how you can contribute to its work. Showcase your understanding of global issues and your ability to think critically about complex challenges. This will demonstrate your commitment to the UN’s mission and your capacity to make a meaningful impact.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What are the common mistakes to avoid while applying to the United Nations?

A: Some common mistakes to avoid include submitting incomplete applications, failing to tailor your documents to the position, neglecting to proofread your application, and missing application deadlines. It is also important to avoid exaggerating your qualifications or misrepresenting your experience.

Q: How long does the application process usually take?

A: The duration of the application process can vary depending on various factors, including the number of applications received and the urgency of filling the position. On average, the process can take several weeks to a few months. However, it is important to note that some positions may have expedited timelines.

Q: Can I apply for multiple positions simultaneously?

A: Yes, you can apply for multiple positions simultaneously. The UN Careers Portal allows you to submit applications for different vacancies. However, it is crucial to ensure that you tailor each application to the specific requirements of the position.

Q: Is it necessary to have prior experience in international affairs?

A: While prior experience in international affairs can be beneficial, it is not always a strict requirement for all positions in the United Nations. The specific experience required will vary depending on the role. However, showcasing a strong understanding of global issues and demonstrating transferable skills can compensate for a lack of direct experience.


Applying for positions in the United Nations can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path. By following this comprehensive guide, you are now equipped with the knowledge and insights to navigate the UN’s application process successfully. Remember to tailor your application, highlight your relevant experience, emphasize your language skills, and showcase your understanding of the United Nations and its values. With dedication and perseverance, you can increase your chances of joining the ranks of those working towards a better and more sustainable future through the United Nations. Apply today and contribute to making a difference on a global scale.

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