One of the most frequently asked questions from candidates is: how can I become a UN Volunteer? On this International Day of UN Peacekeepers, we would like to share some insights on how you can increase your chances of serving as a UN Volunteer with UN Peacekeeping.
UN Peacekeeping is one of the largest United Nations partners of the UN Volunteers (UNV) programme. In 2019, more than 2,000 UN Volunteers served with UN Peacekeeping in 17 different missions around the world, contributing to protection and peacebuilding efforts and promoting volunteerism across the United Nations system. Irrespective of host entity, all UN Volunteers are supported by a package of entitlements that allows them to dedicate their full-time attention to their volunteer assignment.
Top 10 UN Peacekeeping missions with the largest number of UN Volunteers in 2019.
UN Volunteers serving with UN Peacekeeping provide a diverse range of expertise and skills. The top 10 UN Volunteer profiles with UN Peacekeeping include Human Rights Officer, Field Officer, Movement Control Officer, Air Operations Assistant, Civil Affairs Officer, Reports Officer, Medical Doctor, Political Affairs Officer, Vehicle Mechanic and Logistics Assistant.
UN Volunteers serving with UN Peacekeeping work in various professional fields.
Once candidates apply for a UN Volunteer assignment, our recruiters create a shortlist of candidates, based on qualifications such as past work experience and language skills required by UN Peacekeeping. This list, together with the database profiles of candidates, will then be submitted to hiring managers, who will assess the profiles and conduct a test and/or interview. After these procedures, the successful candidate will receive an offer to serve as a UN Volunteer.
Tips from our recruiter
Delphine Carrara is in charge of recruitment for the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Here are some tips from Delphine:
- Due to the specific context of the peacekeeping missions, most UN Volunteer assignments ask for previous field and international experience, especially in post-conflict or emergency situations.
- Some positions require fluent French, especially if the volunteer has to be in contact with the population or local authorities or to collect strategic information from various sources. For other technical positions, where the Volunteer will work inside a mission compound, working knowledge of French is usually an advantage."
- From a recruiter’s point of view, I would first advise you to carefully read the Description of Assignment (DOA). If the minimum criteria are not met, your profile will not even pass the first screening.
Recruiters use keywords to filter out profiles. Therefore, I recommend that candidates ensure that they use some of the keywords from the DOA in their profile when they are describing relevant qualifications and experience. --Delphine Carrara, UNV Recruiter
- Keeping your profile up to date is important. We only share UNV profiles from our Talent Pool (VMAM) with the host agencies. The data you provide in the ‘Qualifications’ and 'Professional Experiences' sections on VMAM are the key source of information for the hiring manager to assess the suitability of a candidate. It is therefore essential that your UNV profile is complete and up to date to have the best chance of being shortlisted. Also, make sure that your contact details are up-to-date to facilitate smooth communication with UNV and the host entity.
- Another tip is to use the 'printable view' function available on VMAM. This enables you to see your profile in PDF format and check how it will look to recruiters and hiring managers. It is then easier for you to check formatting and spelling.
Testimonials from hiring managers at UNMISS
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has the largest number of serving UN Volunteers among UN Peacekeeping missions. In 2019, 519 UN Volunteers served with UNMISS, contributing to the mission’s mandate and delivery.
Samuel Abrokwa, UNMISS Chief of Aviation Section emphasizes key qualities he sees in UN Volunteers:
Aside from the technical qualifications required to undertake assigned tasks, UN Volunteer candidates must be resilient, self-motivated and dedicated. These qualities are essential to allow UN Volunteers to perform credibly, given the nature of their contracts vis a vis the tempo and quantum of work they will be required to perform. --Samuel Abrokwa, Chief of Aviation Section, UNMISS
"Enthusiastic and appreciative at the onset, the enthusiasm of UN Volunteers can wane with time and virtually diminish in the last months of their tour of duty. A few dedicated and resilient ones operate at full throttle to the last day," Samuel shares.
He continues, "Applying for and accepting to be a UN Volunteer inherently has a great aspect of sacrifice which will encapsulate the very attributes required to have a successful tour of duty in the Mission. A great sense of belonging and ownership are essential ingredients to having a fulfilling experience. An understanding of the Mission environment and its modus operandi will give a technically qualified candidate the competitive advantage in getting selected."
UN Volunteers serving with UNMISS. They bring solid professional experience, as well as resilience, endurance and patience in challenging circumstances. UNV, 2020
Shrikant Marutrao Deshpande, Senior Civil Affairs Officer with UNMISS, says motivation and a thorough understanding of the mission’s mandate and responsibilities are important qualities for UN Volunteers.
"We look for candidates who are deeply motivated by the problems faced in the host country and are oriented by a desire to be useful in accordance with our mandated responsibilities," says Shrikant. "Particularly, we seek experienced professionals in conflict management, reconciliation and peacebuilding with extensive experience in community engagement."
"We see the same set of qualities and qualifications we set or expect from regular staff and we know UN Volunteers often eclipse the performance of regular staff," he continues. "UN Volunteers have good experience in effective community engagement and have good communication, analytical and report writing skills. They are also great team players."
Prospective UN Volunteers should thoroughly research the country they are interested in, including reading reports so that they obtain a view of how the mission is undertaking its responsibilities, what dynamics are unfolding, and what constraints the mission faces. --Shrikant Marutrao Deshpande, Senior Civil Affairs Officer with UNMISS
Shrikant concludes, "UN Volunteer candidates are also recommended to research the living conditions in prospective duty stations, as many are remote and may be under-serviced".
Interested in serving as a UN Volunteer? Please sign up to join our Talent Pool.