Interested in joining UN Volunteers? Prepare yourselves with these frequently asked questions

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by Impactpool

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that promotes volunteerism to support peace and development worldwide. Read our interview below with Claudia Garcia, Outreach and Volunteer Recruitment Associate at UNV. We receive many questions about UN Volunteer Programme and asked Claudia the most common ones we get. Take part of her answers and you will be more prepared for your next UNV application. Don't miss to register your profile in the UNV talent pool.

Claudia bunthys picture 2

Hi Claudia, hope you are doing well and that you are ready for a battery of questions!

– Hi Henrik! Ha-ha, sure I am ready for your question battery

Many professional talents visit our site to look for volunteer opportunities. I can see there are different ways of applying, and different volunteer assignments, inside your country, as well as outside your country and online. Who are you looking for?

– As you said we offer different volunteer assignments opportunities. At Impactpool though we only advertise some of our international volunteer assignments, assignments located outside the volunteer’s country of nationality. However, most of our assignments as international UN Volunteers are not advertised and therefore we encourage candidates to register their profiles in our in our Global Talent Pool. If you want to learn more about our different volunteer modalities: International, National and Online Volunteers, click here to visit our new website.

But generally we look for highly-skilled women and men with at least two years of professional experience in a specific area, with academic qualifications or training, who are willing to contribute their time and expertise volunteers. What we consider key when applying for a volunteer assignment that goes beyond professional skills and qualifications, is the commitment to volunteerism and the UN principles of ethics and integrity.

A UN Volunteer must demonstrate flexibility, adaptability, emotional stability, cultural sensitivity, as well as a positive attitude towards change.

At this stage we particularly look for talents for International volunteer assignments in the areas of Human Rights, Refugee Protection, Public Health, Monitoring and Evaluation. We need more volunteers who are bilingual, fluent in English and in another language particularly French, Spanish and Portuguese. We are very interested in having a good balance of candidates in terms of gender and nationalities, therefore, we encourage candidates from all regions to apply.

Thank you! As our mutual focus is International Volunteer assignments, let’s focus at that category in this interview and leave national volunteer and online volunteers out of this interview. How does that sound?

– Yes, that sounds good to avoid confusion.

Ok great, so what is an International UNV assignment?

– UN Volunteers sends professionals with specialized experience to serve in assignments with a variety of UN agencies worldwide to support peace and development. The vast majority of assignments are based on six to twelve-month renewable contracts with the expectation that the UN Volunteer will serve a year or more. Assignments can involve contributing to technical cooperation with governments, community-based initiatives, humanitarian relief, rehabilitation, electoral and peace-building processes, etc.

Sounds interesting, how can I apply?

– To become an International Volunteer you need to register your profile in the UNV talent pool, you need to go to our website here (link to registration page). It takes about 45 minutes and the registration consists of two parts. The first part aims at familiarize the applicant with important information for the potential UN Volunteers. In this section the applicant submits basic information to create an account. To activate the account, several applicants forget to click on the link in the auto e-mail we send out. When your account is active you will receive a second message with a link to ‘MyProfile’. Here you enter all required details regarding your skills, educational qualifications and experience. When done, click the “Submit My Profile” tab to complete the registration process.

I guess there must be a large number of people that wants to volunteer. What are the minimum requirements to become a UN Volunteer?

– We have a few minimum requirements that we stick to. You must have a university degree or higher technical diploma. Be 25-years old at the time of application. What is unique for us is that we have no maximum age limit. You must have a minimum of two years of relevant work experience in a specific area of expertise and good working knowledge in at least one of the three UNV working languages: English, French and Spanish.  A typical UN Volunteer has between 3 to 5 years of professional experience in a specific area.

Many of our International UN Volunteers are often recruited to challenging environments, and others to more stable environments. Resilience is therefore an important skill. Furthermore, show in your application a strong commitment to the values and principles of volunteerism; experience and ability to work in a multi-cultural environment; ability to adjust to difficult living conditions; strong interpersonal and organizational skills. Make it shine if you have prior volunteering and/or working experience in a developing country is an asset.

What kind of support receive the UN Volunteers during their assignments? (Conditions of Service, personal support, etc.

– The key benefit of being a UN Volunteer is the personal satisfaction the volunteer assignment brings you as you make a positive impact on peace and development. However, UN Volunteers supports you during your assignment in several ways, e.g. through a monthly volunteer living allowance, which is an amount intended to cover the basic needs (rent, food, transportation, etc) in the place of the assignment. Additionally, they have annual leave, and medical insurance. I have listed a summary of the entitlement below, but to learn more e click here to see our Condition of Service.

  • Volunteer Living Allowance
  • travel expenses: for travel to duty station upon appointment and for repatriation at the end of the assignment
  • settling-in-grant: a grant calculated on the duration of assignment, paid at the beginning of the assignment
  • insurances: life, health and permanent disability insurance
  • annual leave
  • resettlement allowance: calculated based on the duration of assignment, paid upon satisfactory completion of the assignment.

Very good! But how much is the monthly Volunteer Living Allowance (VLA) is there an easy way to calculate? 

– Easy and easy, I don’t know. But let’s give it a try. The Volunteer Living Allowance (VLA) is paid at the end of each month and it is intended to cover housing, utilities, transportation, communications and other basic needs.  It is important to highlight that it is not a “salary” and that it is calculated according to the cost of living of a specific country. It may range between 2,000 and 3,000 USD per month. It also depends if the volunteer is single or has dependents (spouse and children under 21), there are family and non-family duty stations. (single rate, one dependent and two dependent rates)

Thanks I think that was crystal clear! 

Thank you Claudia for taking time to respond to our questions.

For Intalma | Impact pool

Henrik Ryden, Founding partner and Director Talent Aquisition 

Follow Henrik at Twitter: @Impactpool

About UN Volunteers

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that promotes volunteerism to support peace and development worldwide. Volunteerism can transform the pace and nature of development, and it benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer. UNV contributes to peace and development by advocating for volunteerism globally, encouraging partners to integrate volunteerism into development programming, and mobilizing volunteers. Read more about UNV here.

Interested to join UN Volunteers? Register your profile in the UNV talent pool!

Find all advertised vacancies at UNV here

Since approximately 90% of the assignments for International UN Volunteers are not advertised, but filled with suitable candidates registered in their database, UN Volunteers constantly need to target and attract talent in the most demanded professional areas.

Profiles in high demand include technical specialists (IT, engineering, logistics, transport), legal and medical professionals, political scientists, public information officers, administration and finance experts and professionals with experience in development, management, humanitarian affairs and peacekeeping.

Language skills: combination of language skills (English plus: French and/or Spanish). Other languages such as Portuguese, Arabic and Russian are always an asset.  

Register your profile in the UNV talent pool here



Photo of Claudia Garcia (Private photo all rights reserved)

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