Job highlight: UNOPS Programme & Finance Support Officer in Cambodia

The UN Job List publishes all jobs from UN organisations without any differences. However, from time to time, I’m asked to highlight a vacancy.

Today, UNOPS asked me to highlight this vacancy: “Programme & Finance Support Officer

Duty Station: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Level: IICA-2
Closing date: 2016-03-27

The link to the job is here:

Please spread the word about this job and encourage qualified people of your network to apply. Many thanks!

Join the UNOPS #SheBuilds Career Event on Tuesday 18th of March!

UNOPS just send me the following information about a recruitment event for female professionals:

As part of the She Builds campaign, UNOPS is hosting an career webinar called “Careers with UNOPS for female professionals.”

We are looking for creative, results-focused female professionals with skills in many disciplines, from project management, to infrastructure, procurement, finance and human resources.

Join us LIVE online, on Tuesday the 18th of March from 3:00pm – 4:30pm CET (GMT +1). We will discuss issues and answer your questions, so if you want to know more about working at UNOPS, sign up.

Meet our experts:

Victoria Campbell, head of talent management and development in the HR unit
Natalia Garcia Romero, Engineer and Knowledge Management Officer for the Sustainable Infrastructure Practice
Anna Spindler, Deputy Director of the Procurement Operations and Sustainable Procurement Practice
Ricardo Vargas, Director of the Sustainable Project Management Practice

Working at UNOPS
UNOPS in under 3 minutes
Browse through sustainability, focus and excellence

Anyone is welcome to join – Sign up to the event here

On Tuesday 18th March, you can sign in to the event here and follow these instructions:

1. Enter your name and email address.
2. Enter the session password: 123456
3. Click “Join Now”.
4. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen.

Learn more about other online events in the She Builds campaign here.

It looks like a great campaign and a fantastic event to me. So please spread the news and join the event!

Last call: Apply to the UNICEF NETI Programme now!

I have written about the UNICEF NETI Programme before:

The New and Emerging Talent Initiative (NETI)is an entry point for professionals interested in an international career with UNICEF. As part of UNICEF’s global talent management strategy the NETI Programme focuses on attracting, selecting, developing and retaining new talent.

This is a reminder that the deadline of September 17th is approaching fast so you should get your application in now, if you want to be part of the NETI pool.

More about the programme is on the NETI site of UNICEF. Good luck!

Listen to this TED talk: Why we should NOT focus on NGO overheads

I do my work on the UN Job List since I believe that the UN system needs good people to be really great. This relates to getting the right kinds of people to join the right causes in this world. And so I listened to this TED talk from Dan Pallotta on how to look at NGO / Charity work. I’m not sure I fully agree with all his points but the way he talks about indirect costs (“overheads”) is very good (minute 12 into the video).

With regards to overheads, it is frustrating to see the incentives in organisations stacked up against saving money in the process of doing good: With the wrong focus on “overheads” cost savings between projects are often discouraged. So what happens? Well, in order to keep overheads low, organisations have an incentive not to share resources since a USD $10 Expense in indirect costs (that could be used in all projects) would make the organisation look “expensive”. What happens instead is that the resources are put into projects directly and thus eliminating savings through sharing. If you assume the same USD $10 resources in use in two different projects you effectively double the costs vis-a-vis simple sharing of the resource. Sometimes these cases are not quite as obvious but if you are faced with the decision to invest into a system that could automate a lot of manual processing work or have projects do the manual processing themselves, more often than not organisations are hesitant to invest into infrastructure even if this would save significant resources for projects.

So I agree with Dan Pallotta that focusing on results, on growth and on how much of the overall challenge at hand has been resolved is far more important than achieving arbitrary ratios of indirect costs.

Looking for an entry level job? The UN’s YPP is open now!

The UN’s Young professional programme (YPP) is open for applications now! Here is what the UN says:

The United Nations is looking for highly qualified candidates who are ready to launch a professional career as an international civil servant. The young professionals programme (YPP) is a recruitment initiative that brings new talent to the United Nations through an annual entrance examination. For young, high-calibre professionals across the globe, the examination is a platform for launching a career at the United Nations. This programme builds upon the national competitive recruitment examination (NCRE) which was held for the last time in 2010.

So for all of you who are asking for entry level jobs, this is the UN programme that is geared towards your needs. Please note though that this is a very competitive programme so prepare yourself well when applying to it!

The YPP programme website is here.

UN System Internship Programmes

Lately, I have been asked about UN Internship Programmes a few times so I would like to share some information about these programmes. Please note that I’m not providing this information on behalf of the UN or any UN organization but merely as a private person. So the best advice I can give is to stick to the official resources.

Many UN organisations offer internships. You can check out the UN’s Internship Programme. Typically, for an internship you need to be “graduate [or] post-graduate student”. The official site is not listing specific subjects you need to study in order to be eligible but refers to “diverse academic backgrounds” so check the openings of the UN for details on who they are looking for. On the UN’s website are more links to Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Beirut, Santiago, Arusha, and The Hague based internships but the opportunities don’t stop there: Many organizations in the UN system offer internships, too.

Just to name a few UNDP, UNICEF, and UNOPS all have internships. So, if you would like to know which organizations exist in the UN system refer to the UN Organisational Chart and find the website of the organization you are interested in. Then, see if this organization offers internships (many do) and work your way down from there.

Aside from general internship programmes, some internships are also advertised similar to regular jobs. These opportunities are also picked up by the UN Job List, so it is a good idea to search the UN Job List for internships.

A few items to keep in mind

  • Know what you want: Don’t approach an organization only because you came across their website and saw an opening there. Make sure you know as much as possible about the organization. So read up on their goals, their activities, their approaches etc. as much as you can. Try to understand what expertise the organization may need and ask yourself if you fit these profiles.
  • Know what you apply to: In case you apply to an internship opportunity and even if you understand what the organization is about, make sure you understand the specific opening well. Read the opening several times and try to understand where in the organization the internship would be. Apply if you think you are a good fit.
  • Know how to apply: Read the advert carefully and make sure you fulfill all the formal criteria you need to fulfill for the opening. Also, make sure that your application speaks to why you specifically should get the internship. Explain your CV and your motivation and how you could contribute to both the specific internship opening and the overall organization’s needs. At the same time, keep it short and concise. The strength of your argument should not depend on the length of your cover letter.

Also keep in mind that

  • Internships are unpaid and that if you need a visa etc. the logistics and administration is often times up to you.
  • Internships vary in duration. Many organizations have internships from 2 months to 6 months. Check with the organization you are interested in and see what works for them. Sometimes you seem to be able to negotiate a timeframe.
  • Internships are a great way to get some inside into an organization. However, don’t expect to get a job in the UN through an internship. Many organizations have ‘black-out’ periods after an internship in which you are not eligible to apply for any job at the organization you just interned with.

All of this should give you a start in finding an internship with the UN. Expect the overall process to take a bit of time and don’t be discouraged if you don’t succeed immediately. Many internships are very high in demand and it is quite possible that you don’t hear back from the organization if you’re not selected.

Having said all this, interning at a UN organization is a great way to learn about the inner workings of the UN system and a great overall experience. Good luck internship hunting!

PS: Please don’t ask about specific job / internships in the comments: I don’t have any more information about opening than the information on the UN Job List. Thanks!

How to better find the UN job you are looking for

Lately, I received a lot of e-mails and comments about how to better find jobs on the UN Job List. Firstly, thanks everyone for sending me your feedback! I’m reading all of your mails and comments and I enjoy your feedback. If you have ideas, please let me know.

How to better find vacancies
When searching for jobs it is important to understand the UN Job List. As you know the UN Job List takes vacancies straight for the UN original vacancy page of that organization. So the UN Job List shows, whatever the organization displays. Now some of the organizations do publish their duty station and some don’t. Some do publish the grade of the vacancy and some don’t. In short the tips and tricks outlined here are still valid.

Please note that this also affects the listing by duty station. E.g. you will not find the IAEA in the Vienna listing even though the IAEA is of course on the UN Job List since the robot can’t currently extract the duty station from the IAEA job site.

Another question I often receive is the question about WFP. Especially now since WFP is launching massive outreach efforts many people seem to be interested in WFP and I would love to publish WFP vacancies but this organization pursues a roaster approach so they don’t publish vacancies and thus I can’t add them to the list.

All of what I outline above is the latest status – if you work for any of the organizations and would like to change the way your organization is listed on the UN Job List, please just leave me a comment below. I would love to talk to you and improve the UN Job List.

Contract Types and Levels at the UN

PLEASE NOTE: This is an outdated post by now! The newer version of this post is here:

Lately there were some questions on UN contract types and their meaning so I will try to summarize the situation as I see it. For everything I say, remember, that I don’t work in HR and also that this is my personal view of the topic. I don’t pretend to cover all aspects of this topic but if you feel that I should add something, please leave a comment below.

Contract Types

The first thing is that there are very many different kinds of contracts in the UN. In fact many people lost track of what the exact differences between the contract types are and I experienced examples where even the same contract type had different meanings in one organization. I guess the easiest distinction for now is the duration the contract is intended for.

Permanent Contracts
On the top of the list for this are the “Permanent Contracts” that the Secretariat offers. However to my knowledge these contracts are only given out to people who successfully competed in the National Competitive Recruitment Examinations (NCRE). So unless you fulfill the criteria to compete in the NCRE you can neglect this contract type.

Fixed Term Contracts
Next in line are “Fixed Term Contracts” those are the typical jobs that you find all over the system. The duration of any contract is usually a year or two and even though it is sometimes stated differently in the legal fine-print these contracts are pretty good in terms of job security since most of these contracts are renewed without too many questions asked. An interesting curiosity with Fixed Term Contracts is that some of these can be project-funded. These contracts have then slightly different terms and benefits.

Temporary Contracts
Temporary contracts such as “Assignment for limited durations (ALD)” or “Temporary Fixed Term (TFT)” are still staff contracts but are clearly time-bound and typically don’t carry all the benefits of Fixed Term contracts. And even though these contracts can be extended there is usually a limited (e.g. 3 or 4 years) after which the same person is not allowed to be on the post any longer. If you are on an ALD and you hit the limit you have to take a “Break in Service” of a time determined by the organization.

Consultant Contracts
In this category things get really messy. First of all there is a very wide variety of contracts available and then the conditions for these can be quite different. Then, some organizations see consultant contracts not as HR contracts and governs them under the organizations procurement rules. Typically these contracts carry little employee benefits. Consultant contracts are time-bound, often short-term and often have break in service rules, too. The usually allow for more flexibility in salary negotiations. Examples for these contracts are the “Special Service Agreements (SSA)”, “Individual Contractors Agreement (ICA)” and others.

Contract Levels
Within all these contracts different levels apply. Roughly there are two big categories. The first is the General Services category (sometimes also referred to as Local) up to ICS 7 and then the Professional (or International) category usually starting at ICS 8/9. The basic logic is that certain jobs don’t require an international. For example it doesn’t really make sense to pay a lot of money to employ an administrative clerk on an international level since there are usually skilled people for this job locally available. If you are on a national contract you can expect to stay in the country and you will not be required to move. If you are on an international contract you can be re-assigned to any other place in this world easily (a fact that is often forgotten and that regularly leads to conflict if one actually tries to re-assign internationals).
The line between these two categories is not always easy to draw. For instance there is a major difference between Copenhagen and New York where many nationals in Copenhagen execute jobs that would be on an international level in New York. As a rule of thumb jobs that require a Master’s equivalent degree are international whereas local jobs required secondary education or Bachelor’s degrees.

For an overview over what the level and the contract type equivalents roughly are please check out the UN Job List Search page (scroll down). To estimate what your Salary could look like use the UNDP Salary Calculator.