What is a UN roster?

A crash course to rosters, pools and pipelines

The Secretary-General António Guterres calls for gender parity at the UN. One of his solutions in his UN System-Wide Strategy on Gender Parity is the creation of talent pools. In this article we provide you with the definition of different common terms used to group talents to increase diversity and recruitment quality, to reach gender parity and last but not least to speed up recruitment at the UN and at International Organizations.

What is a UN roster?

In most cases a roster is defined as a list of pre-assessed and endorsed candidates that can be hired for similar positions without a new competitive process.

Often these rosters are established in two different ways:

Rosters built based on a dedicated campaign. In this case organizations are advertising a generic position, it could be a Communications Specialist, P4 with the purpose to be able to assess and place several talents in a roster to meet a forecasted demand. If your organization’s rosters are built up this way, it is important to invest resources in outreach to not risk missing out on strong talents.

The other way rosters are established is related to the recruitments for individual jobs. The organization interview four talents for a Communications Specialist, P4, but only one can be selected. If more than one talent is recommended by the panel, the alternate candidates can be placed on a roster to be selected for future Communications positions. 

What is an Active roster?

Active roster means that the organization actively places talents against vacant positions. This is a quite rare roster type. When a talent is placed on the roster she/he can either wait for the organization to actively place her/him or actively apply for interesting jobs that are coming up on the career site of the organization.

A roster is only applicable for a role within the organization that the talent has been assessed for, hence the UN is not working across organizational borders. For the UN (delivering as one), this is an expensive transaction cost, as it would be more cost effective if some transferable profiles (such as HR, Communications, Supply-Chain, Administration, Procurement) could have shared rosters across organizational borders.

What is a Passive roster?

Passive roster means that an applicant must actively apply for positions while placed on a roster. The organization is passive. In some passive rosters, the candidate is provided access to see vacant positions as an internal staff member, but most often the rostered candidate must search for jobs through the external career site.

The UN YPP is one known type of passive roster where the applicant herself/himself must apply for jobs to be successful in securing a position.

What is Cluster recruitment?

Cluster recruitment is a way for organizations to group recruitments to lower the administrative burden. The organization advertises a job that is 'clustered', it could for example be a job consisting of 5 Human Resources Specialists in a specific region or similar finance positions in  country offices (3 Finance Associates). The difference between the cluster and the UN roster above is that the cluster recruits for real positions (vacancies), while the UN roster aims to build a talent pool to respond to future expected positions. 

Instead of advertising 5 individual jobs, different offices of an organization are gathering their efforts and advertise one job together. When an applicant applies for a cluster job she/he applies for one of, an often stated, number of positions.

If you are a HR policy nerd, you may say that a ‘cluster recruitment’ should not be seen as a roster. However, as it's a more and more common recruitment method within the UN system. 

What is a Talent Pool recruitment?

Another popular recruitment term is Talent Pool recruitment. Similar to rosters, the purpose of a pool is to build a bank of talent. However in a UN context the pools are more sophisticated than the rosters and include a portion of training and preparation of the candidates.

Also what differs the rosters from the pools is that pools are more or less only used for internal positions. Pools are commonly used for Country Director, Deputy Country Director or Resident Coordinator positions – basically rotational senior management positions in the UN.

The procedures to be placed in a pool within the UN system differs between organizations. One common way is to allow Regional Bureaus of the organization to nominate talented staff members for the pool. These nominated individuals will then be assessed and deemed as 1) ready, 2) ready with training needs or 3) not ready. If a candidate is not ready, she/he will not be placed in the pool. If a candidate is deemed ready, she/he can be selected for jobs immediately.  If a candidate is deemed ready but with training needs, she/he will get an individual training plan and not until when she/he has gone through all mandatory training steps would she/he be deemed ready to take on a role that she/he has been assessed for. Famous pools out there are UNDP's RC pooland UNFPA Country Director/ Deputy Country Director pool.  

What is a Talent Pipeline?

Pipeline is a combination of Talent pools and rosters. The pipeline is similar to the roster, but includes the training and learning components of the pool. Pipelines are recommended in the System-Wide Strategy on Gender Parity as a tool to achieve the goals. The pipeline is also often targeting external candidates and could be a strategic way to build capacity in areas where the organization lacks effective recruitment through their existing channels (e.g. women IT managers, women logistics and supply chain expertise etc).

Are you planning to implement any of these concepts in your organization? Let us know we are more than happy to help you. Contact us.