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Working for the United Nations can be a fantastic career. You work for an organisation promoting peace and helping people around the world, whilst doing an exciting, prestigious, and often well-paid job. Although a UN career can be great, it can also be highly demanding.
Many people nowadays see the value of working from home. It allows them a better work-life-balance, as well as more opportunities to spend time with family. Working from home also allows people more choice of where to live. So, is it possible to get an exciting UN job whilst also getting the benefits of remote working? Yes, it is, and we’ll explain how…
Does The United Nations Have Remote Working Jobs?
The United Nations does recruit remote positions. Although most UN jobs are either office based or flexible working (mixing office and homework), there are some UN positions that can be done entirely from home.
In general, the UN recruits’ staff to work on site. This is because the majority of the work the UN does requires people to be present. This is especially true at field level – the sites where frontline UN projects are run. Essentially, delivering humanitarian aid, running development programmes, or assisting with scientific or cultural research cannot be done remotely.
With that said, the United Nations is an enormous organisation with over nearly 120,000 staff across 193 countries. There are a huge range of different jobs within the UN, and not all need to be done on site. Therefore, there are UN jobs that offer a mix of home and office work, as well as jobs that can be done entirely from home.
Now, let’s look at which jobs the UN recruits that mostly commonly allow for remote working…
What UN Jobs Can You Do From Home?
There are a huge range of jobs across the United Nations that can be done remotely. Essentially, any office-based job can be done from home. So, think about roles in other organisations that can be done remote, it is likely these will also be home based, or include some home working, inside the UN.
With that said, there are some types of UN jobs that are more likely to include remote working. Some examples of these include:
- Grant Manager
Let’s take a quick look at each of these…
The United Nations hires a huge number of consultants. The UN uses consultants to complete specific pieces of work that it does not require its own staff for or does not have the capacity to do in-house. Consultants in the UN often work in technical areas and provide specific guidance and expertise the UN needs.
Being a consultant with the United Nations is probably the easiest way to get a UN job where you can work from home. As consultants are not full UN staff, their working arrangements are often more flexible. Also, because the UN hires consultants for specific pieces of work, and so gives them more freedom to complete this, there is less need to be office based.
A second type of UN job that often can be done remotely is administrative positions. These roles support UN teams in ensuring systems and processes, including finance, HR, legal services, and project monitoring, are completed correctly. Like in many sectors, it is possible for administrators to work remotely, at least some days of the week. If you are looking for a flexible working arrangement and want a job with the UN, consider applying for admin roles.
Another type of role within the UN that often allows for home working is researcher. The UN hires researchers on many projects in order to look deeply into specific issues and write reports based on their findings. Human rights, development aid, heritage conservation, maritime and aviation coordination and international diplomacy are just some examples of areas where the UN hires researchers. As researching areas such as these combines field work with report writing, often it’s possible to work partly from home when doing research for the UN.
The UN works on many complex issues. To support its work, it recruits analysts to provide insight and advice that can support decisions being taken by UN teams. Often analysts for the UN are experts in their field and are brought in to provide technical guidance as needed. Analyst positions within the UN are often done remotely.
The United Nations accepts many financial grants from organisations to support its work. The UN also gives grants to NGOs and civil society organisations to undertake work on its behalf. This means there are many grant management roles within the UN system. Often, these roles can either be done remotely or you can negotiate a flexible arrangement where you mix office and home work.
The United Nations has a range of internship programmes, some of which can be done remotely. Taking an internship with the UN can be one of the best ways to begin a career in the United Nations. If you are a student or recent graduate, explore doing a remote internship with the UN.
What Qualifications Do You Need To Work From Home For The UN?
If you want to work for the United Nations in a home-based position, you need to become highly qualified.
Jobs at the United Nations are competitive, often thousands of applicants apply for each position, especially for entry level roles. Many people also want to work from home. As remote positions at the UN are not hugely common, this makes them even more competitive to get. Therefore, if your aim is to work remotely for a United Nations agency, you need to build significant skills and experience.
You are unlikely to find a remote position in the UN that is entry level. This is because these roles either tend to be field based – so working at sites where the UN directly runs its projects, or they support other key functions in the office and so need to regularly be present.
Essentially, to get a UN job working from home you need to have the formal qualifications needed for the role. This means if you want to work in finance, you should have a finance degree. If you want to work for the UN in safety and security, or humanitarian logistics, you should have the qualifications needed to do this work. Almost all UN jobs require a degree, often to master’s level. If you want to work for the UN from home, get a formal qualification in the specialist area you plan to work in.
As well as getting the qualifications needed to do the job, if you want to work remotely for the United Nations you will also likely need several years of professional experience.
As we’ve said, UN remote jobs tend to be more senior. Managers in the UN are, generally, more likely to let staff work from home when they know they have significant experience and technical skills and have already built a successful career in the office or on the field. This is not 100% the case, but it is best to assume that you’ll need to have some years’ experience before the UN will hire you to work entirely from home.
Another thing you should consider if you want to get a remote job with the United Nations is taking online short courses. The UN not only looks for qualified and experienced staff, but also for people who understand the UN’s work and how their role will support this. One of the best ways to gain strong knowledge of the UN is to take a course online. There is a huge range of e-learning short courses related to the UN, many of which can be taken for free.
United Nations Online Courses
For those wanting to work for the United Nations, including in a remote job, we highly recommend the online course Global Diplomacy: The United Nations In The World. We think it’s one of the best overviews of the UN and it’s work and would be a great addition to the CV of anyone applying for a UN job. Click the link to enrol on the course.
If you want to know more about how to get a home working job with the UN then take the United Nations Jobs Guide online course. This course provides great details on the UN recruitment system, what the UN looks for in candidates and what you can do to make your UN application stand out. Follow the link to the course’s page for more information.
Another online course we recommend for those wanting to work from home for the UN is International Organizations Management. This course shows how large global organisations, including the UN, work. It also highlights many of the challenges, including legal issues, these organisations face. Click the link to be taken to the course’s page.
How To Apply For United Nations Remote Work
In order to get a remote working job with the UN, you will need to apply through the United Nations recruitment process. The way the UN hires, and categorises positions, is notoriously complex. However, understanding this is key to securing a UN job.
UN jobs are put into two main categories. These are known and P – or ‘Professional’ roles, and G – or ‘General Service’ positions. The naming isn’t great as there’s really nothing more professional about P jobs.
The main difference between P and G jobs in the UN is where and how they are recruited.
General Service, or G category jobs, in the United Nations, are only hired locally. This means you must be a national of the country where the UN office you are applying to operates. You cannot apply internationally for G category jobs with the UN.
P category jobs, on the other hand, are only recruited internationally. This means people deploy as expatriates to support UN projects. You can only apply internationally for a P category role in the UN.
The United Nations also has D category jobs. These are essentially the same as P jobs but more senior.
As well as giving each position a letter, the United Nations also gives each job a number. This number relates to the amount of experience needed to do the job. The higher the number, the more years of experience are needed. This is why you will see UN jobs listed as P-3 or G-4, for example.
When looking to get a job with the UN where you can work from home, essentially any job category could allow this. However, P jobs are probably less likely to allow remote working as the post holder is expected to travel internationally for the job. P jobs are also more likely to be field based, which as we discussed, makes it less likely to be open to remote working.
There are some UN roles that will include in the job advert that they are remote positions. These will be the most competitive to get, but if you have the niche skills and experience the UN requires, you should be able to succeed in securing one. However, these jobs are also quite rare.
Another way you can get a job with the United Nations and work from home, at least part of the time, is to get a job within the organisation where the work can be done remotely, and then once you have started, negotiate with your line manager to work from home. This will be easier than securing the fully remote job at first because it means you can prove yourself in your role before asking to do the job remotely.
If you want to learn more about how to get a remote working job in the United Nations, check out of the top UN online courses here.