The United Nations utilize the term 'contract type' to distinguish its personnel into two main categories, Staff and Non-staff. A staff member is an individual whose employment and contractual relationship are defined by a letter of appointment subject to regulations promulgated by the Secretary-General. In simpler words, staff contracts are the career contracts of the United Nations. As an international staff member, you fall under the category of International Civil Servant.
The other category, contract type, the so-called non-staff, is defined as everyone that has not a letter of appointment with the UN. In simpler words, non-staff is the name of all other categories of contracts (Consultancies, internships, Volunteer, and similar), that are not to be seen as career contracts.
When you start to plan for your first or next assignment at the UN the contract type can have more or less value, it all depends on your own personal goals, aspirations, time horizon, and patience.
If your main (single) goal is to have a long career at the UN, it may be wise to focus your job search attention on staff contracts
. If your UN job search goal however is more of short-term/temporary nature, it may be wiser to look more for non-staff appointments.
Non-staff contracts are generally recruited faster, are less competative, are more flexible, and all the diversity requirements or similar obstacles are generally waived. However, compared to staff contracts, their compensation is lower and career progression opportunities are limited.
Even if you are inside the system, you may agree that the grading structure is overwhelming. However, as a staff member, you probably have a clear career progression idea in mind.
As an external candidate though, the grades and contracts become an unfair disadvantage, and this is one of the reasons why I agreed to jump off my international professional career at UNDP to co-found Impactpool. There must be a better way to explain these grades and eventually match candidates to the right type of jobs. Impactpool's algorithm is trained on 145 different UN grades, which makes our algorithm for impact jobs the most advanced on the planet.
In this article, I will take you through most of the UN's non-staff contracts, such as.
- Flexible contracts
- Service contracts
- Volunteer contracts
By understanding staff and no-staff contracts, you can straighten up the road to your own career goals. This road takes you towards the UN HQ.