How To Get An IT Job With The UN (Complete Guide)

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The United Nations can be a fantastic place to work. It gives you an exciting and prestigious career and you work towards helping people around the world. If you work in IT, or in a computing role, and are interested in getting a job with the UN, there are a huge range of positions open to you.

We’ve written this guide to give people working in IT the information they need to get a job at the UN. It’s also ideal for those thinking about a UN career and who are wondering if training in IT would be a good avenue into the organisation.

United Nations IT Roles

The first step in getting an IT job with the United Nations is gaining a strong understanding of the types of computing roles the UN hires. The UN is a huge organisation, with over 33,000 staff, spread across 193 countries. There are hundreds of different types of computing jobs within the UN. However, some of the most common ones are:

  • ICT Associate
  • Technical Project Manager
  • Information Systems Officer
  • Network Management Officer
  • Web Content Specialist
  • Software Developer
  • IT Consultant

Let’s take a quick look at each of these…

ICT Associate

The role of ICT Associate is one of the main jobs in the UN working in information, computers, and technology. The job is generally responsible for ICT systems, as well as developing and implementing computer technology strategies. ICT Associates in the UN also provide support to staff regarding IT issues.

Technical Project Manager

The job of Technical Project Manager in the UN is responsible for the role-out of new IT systems. The role can also be responsible for developing new IT projects, as well as monitoring and testing IT systems that have recently been put in place.

Information Systems Officer

In the UN, Information Systems Officers work across the organisation’s information networks. They are responsible for building, updating, and maintaining online databases, content management systems, digital resources, and physical document libraries.

Network Management Officer

Network Management Officers in the UN are responsible for the organisation’s computer networks. They oversee maintenance and administration of the networks, including ensuring software updates are in-place, backups are made and stored correctly and that the end user experience is maintained to a high standard.

Web Content Specialist

Across the United Nations there is great need online content. The role of Web Content Specialists in the UN is to develop content across different online mediums. They also coordinate across departments to gather the required inputs needed to produce quality web content for the UN.

Software Developer

The UN has significant needs for software developers. Their role is to design, build and role out new software across the organisation. As new IT technology is adopted by UN agencies, often Software Developers are called upon to make this happen.

IT Consultant

IT consultants are hired by the UN to complete specific computing tasks. They usually work for a pre-agreed period of time working on a single UN project. Across the UN, IT consultants work on a huge range of different computing projects.

Qualifications Needed Work In IT At The UN

If you want to get an IT job with the United Nations, there are two main steps to becoming qualified. The first is to train in a specific area of IT relevant to the UN’s work.

As we have said, there are a huge range of IT positions across the United Nations. However, all of these will require specific technical knowledge. For example, in order to take an ICT analysis role or technical project manager job you will likely need a master’s degree in computing. To apply for software developer jobs at the UN you need a masters or formal training in software engineering. Applicants for web designer jobs will need qualifications in coding. Essentially, in order to apply for an IT role at the UN you need to have the relevant qualifications needed to work in that area of computing.

Jobs at the United Nations are highly sought after and receive a lot of applications. Therefore, you should be become as fully qualified as you can before applying for an IT job with the UN.

Sadly, the UN will not fund you to train in computing or ICT. You will need to complete your qualifications before you apply for an IT job with the United Nations.

The second stage you should complete in order to become qualified to apply for an IT job with the UN is to gain a deep understanding of the United Nations and its work.

The UN works around the world promoting cooperation between nations and working on humanitarian, development, peace building and security issues. Every job at the UN essentially supports this work. Although IT jobs may not be directly on the frontline assisting people, they are key in ensuring UN staff are able to do their jobs and that the UN operates as an effective organisation. Therefore, before you apply for a computing job with the UN, you need to understand really what the UN does.

One of the best ways to get knowledge of the UN’s work, and how IT positions are key to supporting UN projects, is to do online short courses.

There are many providers offering courses that can be taken over a few weeks or months that focus on the UN and its work. These can be done often for free, or for a small cost. Adding some of these short courses to your CV, before applying for an IT job with the UN, will greatly boost your application. This is because you can clearly demonstrate you have a real interest in the UN and understand it’s work.

United Nations Online Courses

For those wanting to work for the United Nations, including in an IT role, 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 job with the UN, including in a computing role, 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 as in IT 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.

Applying for United Nations Computing Jobs

The United Nations recruitment process is known for being complex. However, if you want to get an IT job in the UN you need to have a good understanding of how the UN categorises jobs, as well as the different types of roles the UN recruits for.

Across the UN, all jobs are given a code made up of a letter and a number. Generally, jobs are given the letter P or G. P stands for ‘Professional’ role, and G for ‘General Service’. The naming isn’t great as there’s really nothing more professional about P jobs.

The difference between G and P jobs is where and how they are recruited.

UN jobs categorised as G are only recruited locally in the country where the UN project is being ran. This means you must be a national of that country in order to apply.

P jobs with the United Nations are only recruited for internationally. This means staff working on P jobs are hired as expatriates and work abroad supporting UN projects. Many people who hold P jobs with the UN move between different positions and UN projects throughout their career.

There are also D category jobs in the UN. These are similar to P jobs but are at a more senior level.

It’s important to note that although there are some computing roles at the UN that are P jobs, and so recruited for internationally, the majority of IT roles in the UN will be G category jobs. This is because ICT is a support function within the UN and often qualified staff can be hired for these positions locally. This isn’t always the case though so make sure you’re continuously browsing open recruits for the UN in IT roles if you are wanting to work abroad for the UN.

As well as each job being given a category letter, UN positions are also given a reference number. This number relates to how much experience a candidate needs in order to apply for the job. The higher the number, the more experience is required. This is why you will see UN jobs labelled as P-3, or G-2, for example.

If you want to work for the United Nations in an IT role, you should apply for open positions that are in-line with your experience and career aims. For nationals of a country with a large UN presence, think about first applying for G roles within the local UN’s IT department. Once you have gained some experience within the UN system, you could then apply for more senior G roles, or try and transition into a P job and work internationally for the UN in a computing role.

For those with significant previous work experience, and who want to work internationally for the United Nations in an IT role, consider applying directly to P category jobs across the UN. You will need several years of relevant experience in a similar role, in order to apply for P jobs.

Alongside recruiting staff across the different job categories, the United Nations also hires a large number of consultants.

Consultants support UN projects at all levels. Although many think that the UN mainly hires consultants at senior levels, in fact there are open consultancies at the United Nations in more junior positions as well. This is especially true in IT where consultants can be hired to deliver a set piece of IT work that the UN requires. If you are looking to work for the UN in a computing role, definitely apply for relevant consultancies.

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United Nations Agencies Recruiting IT Roles

We’ve now published several guides on how to get specific types of jobs at the UN. In most of these we have given a breakdown of which UN agencies are best to target with applications. However, almost every part of the UN will have a need for IT staff. The United Nations is a huge organisation, therefore there is a great need for computing support across it.

The only UN agency that may hire more ICT jobs that others is the UN Office For Project Services (UNOPS). This is the UN body responsible for infrastructure, procurement, and project delivery. UNOPS is regularly responsible for major IT projects across the United Nations. Although, as we said, almost every UN agency will be hiring IT staff, especially check for UNOPS openings if you have IT project management skills.

Generally, if you want to work for the UN in an IT job, regularly browse the site where UN recruitments are posted and apply for a wide range of computing roles across the organization. Once you are within the UN system, it is easier to move between jobs and across agencies, so if the initial jobs you apply for are not ideal, still consider taking them before moving towards the IT role within the UN you are most interested in.

If you want to learn more about how to get an IT job in the United Nations, check out of the top UN online courses here.

Duncan

Duncan is the founder of Humanitarian Careers. With over 8 years experience in the aid industry across fifteen countries, Duncan set-up Humanitarian Careers to help people launch their own career in international aid.