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How to get a consultancy at the UN?

Author photo

by Henrik Rydén
COO and Co-founder of Impactpool

It is neither unrealistic nor unusual that former consultants end up applying successfully for staff positions with the UN organization they work for – in this article I will be guiding you to the different UN consultancy opportunities.

In most UN organizations, consultancy contracts are advertised together with all other job vacancies on the organization's career site. All these consultancies are also available in the Impactpool job search. 

In some organizations, there is a clear division between staff positions and consultancies and in these cases, consultancies are sometimes separated from the staff positions and placed in their own section on the organization's website, if that is the case it may be valuable to bookmark that organization page and return frequently.

The application process for a consultancy reminds me to a large extent of the application process for a staff position. You apply electronically by filling out a form that is the exact same or very similar to the P11/PHP form. You will be called for an interview and if successful you will be offered the consultancy. Normal staff recruitment takes a good average of 100 days, a consultancy recruitment goes a bit faster.

Why and when does the UN hire/procure a consultant?

Theoretically, a consultancy opportunity is created by a UN organization when a function is needed which does not fit the core work of the organization.

For the core functions, staff contracts must be used, such as fixed-term appointments (FTA) or temporary contracts (TA). As a consultant, you are not considered a UN staff member and you have no UN privileges (you are a so-called non-staff).

In many organizations, consultancies are carried out as a procurement task rather than being a recruitment responsibility under the Human Resources Department. The rules and guidelines might therefore differ from one organization to another.

This said the theory does not always comply with reality. Functions carried out by consultants are both core functions and ‘non-core’ functions. And a consultancy is a quite common first entry into a staff contract with the UN.

The UN offers different types of consultancies. The most common ones are

  1. International consultancies,
  2. Local consultancies and
  3. Home-based consultancies.

The duration of a consultancy differs from tasks that take a few hours to projects that last for years. Normally a consultancy is defined either by specific deliverables or by the duration of time. 

Also, the rate that you get paid depends on contract duration/deliverables.

When applying for a consultancy you may be asked to provide a daily rate or rate per deliverable. This is not an easy task but in another article that we have published on Impactpool, I provide several tips on how you can come up with a reasonable rate based on benchmarks

Further down in this article, I will touch upon taxation and how that could be different from one person to another. I will also list some consultancy contracts you should look for.

Home-based consultancies at the UN have skyrocketed after the pandemic. Photo on a home office by Windows published on Unsplash.

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