A Job At The UN
Where To Look For A Job In The UN
|by Michele Ann Jenkins
Switzerland is the longtime home of the UN family and supports a thriving
community of ex-pats on long and short term contracts. For anyone
looking for an alternative to teaching English or working as an au pair,
short term employment with the UN is a sometimes overlooked option.
There a seven
UN organizations based in Geneva-- WHO, ILO, WIPO, UIT. Other Europe-based
UN organizations include the FAO in Rome and UNESCO in Paris. Each organization
also has several-- sometimes dozens-- of regional and country offices all
over the world. The majority of employees at UN organizations are renewable
short term contracts (STCs) lasting 3-11 months. STCs cover everything
from web programming, to administrative work, to medical doctors and statisticians.
the UN bureaucratic maze can be daunting, but getting a STC can shortcut
a lot of the complexities of working in another country and lead to an
interesting couple of months that look great on a resume. UN employees
usually do not need to apply for a work visa in the country they are employed
in, nor do they need to pay any taxes on their salary in either their home
country or country of residence. A UN contract can also streamline the
process of renting or buying a home and opening a new bank account. Many
STCs will include a round trip plane ticket from your home country-- but
this doesn't extend to other family members, nor will they usually pay
for any other relocation costs like shipping.
about vacancies at any of these organizations can be the hardest part of
the job. While some organizations maintain online job centers, many openings
are announced only internally or on paper at organization offices.
There are several
different types of UN employment as well as involving complicated salary
scale based on "grades" and "steps".
are separated into three categories: D-staff are directors who are expected
to have a Ph.D. and extensive background in their area as well as general
management in a large organization. P-staff are professionals usually with
a MA or at least a graduate degree and several years experience. G-staff
are general staff who make up most of an organization's staff. Each year
of employment (each 11 month contract counts as a year) earns you 1 step
which translates to a salary increase and often an increase in health and
dental benefits. Knowing the grade of employment you are qualified
for will make the job search easier.
also have country quotas that restrict how many people they can hire from
each country and give preference to applicants from under-represented nations.
If you have
dual citizenship or are a national of a country besides the US, UK, or
Canada be sure to state this on any esquires or applications.
Offshore Resources Gallery
of the organization's 'working languages' besides English is also an asset.
In Geneva the working languages are English, French, and Spanish. If you
aren't fluent in another language-- or are a complete beginner willing
to learn-- you should mention that as well since the UN provides free language
classes to both short and long term staff.
has a Personal Information Form that can be downloaded from their website.
The completed form, a copy of your resume, and a passport photo are needed
for each job you apply for through 'official channels'. Less officially,
if you know the name or email address of a potential employer you can try
sending them a cover letter and resume directly.
is surprisingly small but populated with an amazing cross section of residents
from every corner of the world.
It's not uncommon
to take a stroll along Lake Geneva among a crowd of Brits in blue jeans,
Italians in red leather pants, Indian women in saris and fully veiled women
from Saudi Arabia.
this diversity requires a little more effort to discovering Geneva's food
or nightlife. A usual Friday night out will include Swiss-Italian food
and drinks at one of the many faux Irish pubs in town-- but there's more
to this little town on the lake for those willing to look beneath the surface.
English is the working language for so many Geneva residents that it's
not hard to get by without more than a few phrases of French.
The cost of
living is relatively high, especially if you plan to eat out on a regular
basis. Finding and renting an affordable apartment can also
be a time consuming effort. Unless you plan to stay for more than six months
subletting might be a better option.
always coming and going in Geneva and many people sublet their apartments
while they are on contract break or duty travel.
a number of English language classifieds online as well as rental resources
at the Geneva Welcome Center.
One of the
highlights of living in Geneva is its location at the center of Europe.
All of Europe seems like it's less than 4 hours away: 3 hours to Milan
by train, 3 1/2 hours to Paris on the TGV high-speed train, less
than two hours to Barcelona, London, or Amsterdam by plane--- not to mention
the Swiss Alps and cities such as Zurich, Bern, and Lugano. Winter
weekends can be spent skiing or snowboarding at several resorts in the
nearby French Alps-- several bus companies run affordable bus and lift
ticket options for day trips. Summer and Fall is the time for High Alpine
hiking and swims in Lake Geneva.
Health Organization (WHO) Geneva, Switzerland - http://www.who.int
Labor Organization (ILO) Geneva, Switzerland - www.ilo.gov
Telecommunications Union (ITU) Geneva, Switzerland - http://www.itu.int/net/home/index.aspx
Agriculture Organization (FAO) Rome, Italy - www.fao.org
Index ~ Switzerland
Index ~ Overseas
Jobs Articles Index ~