NEWS ARCHIVE JULY 2015: Don't miss the opportunity to apply for the UN YPP 2015. Does your country participate this year? We have the answer.

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It is early summer and the time when international organizations launch their young career programs. If you have followed UNjobfinder you know that we worked closely with UNHCR when they launched their CBI during May earlier this year. In this blog post we will give details about the UN Young Professional Programme.

 

It is only a few weeks left until your application must be submitted to the UNYPP and we have gathered some tips that can make your application stand out in the crowd. 
 

 
The 2015 YPP is launched and only certain nationalities can apply. Are you one of them?

It is the UN Secretariat that annually invites to the UN YPP. The Secretariat aims at diversity within its workforce, and strives to recruit qualified applicants, irrespective of gender, nationality, disabilities, sexual orientation, culture, religious and ethnical backgrounds. Each year the Secretariat assess which member states have an over- or underrepresentation of staff members within the Secretariat. These calculations are based on mathematical formulas including several different dimensions such as a country’s size, population, core-contribution etc. The outcome of the calculations is adding up to a number (a span). Basically one particular country could have a span between 25-35. Without going into too much detail, if this particular country would have below 25 staff members it would be considered underrepresented (and invited to the YPP) and vice versa, if it would have above 35 staff members it would be considered overrepresented. Countries within the span is normally not invited, but could be so if the Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) in UN forecasts a decrease in number of staff or can see patterns indicating that the pool of professionals from a certain country starts to ebb. 
 
Here's the complete list of all countries invited to 2015 YPP
 
We have gathered a list of all countries invited this year (underrepresented in the Secretariat), in alphabetic order starting with Algeria; Andorra; Angola; Antigua and Barbuda; Bahrain; Barbados; Belarus; Belize; Bhutan; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Brazil; Brunei Darussalam; Burkina Faso; Cambodia; Central African Republic; Chad; Côte d'Ivoire; Czech Republic; Dominica; Gabon; Gambia; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Indonesia; Iraq; Jamaica; Japan; Kiribati; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Laos; Latvia; Lesotho; Liberia; Libya; Liechtenstein; Luxembourg; Malaysia; Mauritania; Monaco; Montenegro; Mozambique; Namibia; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Pakistan; Palau; Paraguay; Peru; Poland; Samoa; San Marino; Saudi; Arabia; Singapore; Slovakia; Solomon Islands; Somalia; Swaziland
Syria; Tanzania; Thailand; Togo; Turkey; Tuvalu; United Arab Emirates; United States; Vanuatu; Vietnam; Zambia.
 
General Service and other related categories are eligible to apply 
 
On the UN career site you can also read that staff members of the United Nations Secretariat who work within the General Service and other related categories and aspire for a career within the Professional and higher categories can apply to participate in the YPP examination. The truth is though, that unfortunately this opportunity works better on paper than it does in reality. In fact the diversity quota also applies to this group, so unless you are a national of one of the countries listed above you will not be selected.
 
Below is some tips how you can make your application more strategic now when we're getting closer to final application day - we also have a previous post about application writing. Take some time and read that one.

First of all make sure that:
 
  1. Your country is invited to the exam (if not invited don’t bother to apply, your application will be auto-screened)
  2. You meet all minimum requirements stated  (the secretariat's recruitment system Inspira uses auto-filtering so if you don’t meet the minimum requirements or have the correct nationality, you will be filtered out by the system) and 
  3. You have expertise in one of the job families of 2015.The 2015 examination will be offered in the following job families: Administration; Finance; Legal Affairs; Public Information; Social Affairs; Statistics
 
Only the 40 best applicants per country in a given job family are allowed to take the exam. For some smaller countries this might mean less competition. And for some of the participating countries, it might be sufficient to just meet the minimum requirements to be invited to take the exam. However, for those of you who see a loophole here, it might be good to know though that even if a country doesn't reach their 40 applicants threshold in a given job family, the Secretariat would never invite any applicants to take the exam that doesn't meet the minimum requirements (it is against the UN Staff rules). Every applicant must meet the minimum requirements to be invited irrespective of the number of applicants from one particular country.
Although, there are some countries with small populations in the invitation list for most countries, an applicant would need something more in the application to stand out. 
 
We have compiled a Q&A below. Some of the areas are out of your control; however most of the items can help your application be more strategic.
 
Are there job families that are less competitive within the UN?
 
If you are only looking at a career with a UN organization, it might be strategic to consider job families that are least competitive. In the past the Politics or Human Rights tracks has been very competitive, however it has generally been easier to come through to the exam or be recruited to a job via the Administration/Finance track. 
 
I have more than one nationality, can that help me in any way?
 
If both nationalities are invited to the exam, you should definitely make use of your multiple nationalities and use them strategically. Basically, you should apply with the nationality that you as an individual would benefit from most. It is good to know though, that the UN eventually determines your official nationality, and they might decide to assign you another nationality than the one you applied with. However, irrespective of their later decision it is wise to think about what nationality to choose. Mainly two things can guide you what nationality to use. For several years the UN has had challenges to find multilingual, highly educated women from crisis countries (i.e. Somalia, Pakistan etc). So in case you are a women that can identify yourself with this description you are encouraged to select the crisis country of yours as your nationality when applying. The second thing is to look at size, and mainly population size. One specific country (Norway) seems to have a constant under-representation in the Secretariat, so if you are Norwegian or have multiple nationalities out of which one is Norwegian. To select Norway as your nationality might be your golden ticket to the exam.
 
I guess quite many applicants from my country will meet all minimum requirements. What will make my application stand out?
 
If we start in general application screening terms. An application will be evaluated based on the following four pillars: 1) Education, 2) Experience, 3) Languages, and 4) Other skills.  So basically these are the four pillars where you can seek to strengthen your application.
 
It is maybe to state the obvious, but if two different applicants where to be compared only on the basis of their degrees and one of the applicants had a first level degree and the other a PhD, the PhD would count higher. The YPP requires no professional experience, however if someone having some really relevant experience was to be compared with someone having no experience, the experienced applicant would win. For languages the same applies, if one applicant has both French and English; that combination would count higher than one other applicant having English only. When it comes to languages it is not just to have many languages, you must have the right languages and the more UN working languages you have (Arabic, English, French, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish) the better equipped you are. Other skills that could contribute to strengthen you application is for example volunteer jobs, internships etc. 
 
How do I prepare for the exam?
 
We're planning to give you some more details on how you can prepare for the exam in a blog closer to the exam period in December. But for now, we recommend the following: The exam consists of two different papers; 1) the general paper (same irrespective of job family, can be written in either English or French) and the specialized paper (where your subject matter expertise will be assessed). The exams are marked anonymously. The duration of the examination is normally 4.5 hours. To prepare for the exam it is recommended to read global newspaper, journals and magazines. It is advised to go back to your university literature and refresh yourself on important and basic theories within the job family you have applied for. You can also find sample questions on the YPP web page. 
 
Is there any best practice filling out the application?
 
We recommend that you to fill out the employment section of the Inspira application using a achievements oriented CV structure, we have described this in a blog post, read it here. There are a few theories that are recommended within the UN – CAR(L) and CAR(I) – They stand for (C)ontext, (A)ction, (R)esults, (L)earning or (I)mpact. These techniques are most frequently recommended at the interview preparation stage. You are asked to structure your response this way. However, if you already in your application structure the employment section this way you will save a lot of time when preparing yourself for the interview and furthermore it is a very good way to reach to the heart of the screener. 
 
What is the YPP application timeframe (based on previous years)?
 
You will submit your applications during July, different job families have different closing dates, so make sure that you check the closing date of your job family.  If you application is successful you will be invited to take the exam planned for December 2015. If you successfully pass the written exam, you will be invited to an interview. These will likely take place in March or April 2016. If you are also successful after the interview assessment you will be notified about the outcome around the summer 2016. Please note that these are only tentative dates.
 
As a final advice, we would like to recommend the UN Young Professional Programme (YPP) group at LinkedIn. It is a group completely independent from UNjobfinder, however it contains many interesting discussions and you can read many good questions responded to by HR professionals, which gives a much higher level of validity.
 
Disclaimer: UNjobfinder would like to emphasize and remind you as a reader that this blog is reflecting UNjobfinder’s standpoints alone. The description you have read of UN YPP is not an official United Nations text, nor approved by the United Nations. In this blog there might be opinions, recommendations and standpoints that are not shared by the United Nations.