UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) is a unique branch of the UN that strives to build peace between nations through collaboration and cooperation in scientific, educational, and cultural endeavors. They have participated in restoring and preserving cultural sites and artifacts, alerting communities to natural disasters, building youth networks, launching scientific research studies, publishing historical accounts of various continents and countries, and more. Because of its unique nature, UNESCO looks for individuals who stand out in ways that will make them fit in with the organization and its goals. Below are 7 tips for ways to make your UNESCO job application a success.
Make sure that you are applying for the appropriate job level for your skills and experience.
UNESCO offers three job levels: Junior Professional Officer (JPO), Professional, and General Service. Each level requires a similar but distinct set of skills. For those with little work experience who are under the age of 32, you will likely need to apply at the JPO level. At this level, the experience requirements are very low, allowing younger professionals and recent graduates to start their career. At the Professional level, UNESCO offers several job categories, each of which requires different amounts of work experience. Beyond the skills that the actual job requires, you will want to make sure the category is appropriate for your experience level. The General Service group also contains different job categories, all within the administrative/technical/clerical fields. Each of the categories has different requirements for skill and experience, so make sure to check that yours matches or is close before you apply.
Bring attention to your language experience and experience working cross-culturally.
As with all UN organizations, UN does require fluency in English or French and a working knowledge of the other. They also strongly encourage candidates who speak one of the other primary UN languages, and jobs based in non-English or -French speaking countries almost always require that you have at least a working knowledge of the native language of that country. In addition to simply knowing the languages they require, if you have any experience researching or working in your non-native language, be sure to highlight that experience. Similarly, any cross-cultural work or research experience should be emphasized in your application and resume. Because UNESCO specifically strives to collaborate between various countries, any experience you have working cross-culturally will be valued as they evaluate your application.
Highlight your creativity and ability to think out of the box.
UNESCO highly values creativity in the work that it does, so they want their future employees to be able to bring creativity and unique thinking to the table. Even if you do not have experience or training that is directly creative in nature, find ways to talk about your previous jobs and internships in a way that brings attention to creative thinking, unique solutions, artistic projects, etc. Even applicants applying for science-related jobs should still try to highlight creative thinking, more artistic skills, a value of cultural heritage, and a commitment to bringing cultures and nations together through the work they do.
Use the language UNESCO uses on their website and in their job postings.
While completing your application, study the language and terminology that UNESCO uses to describe their work and mimic it in your application. By doing this, you show that you understand the organizational mission and culture. You also show that you will learn quickly and be on board with the way UNESCO does and talks about their work. Using the language and terms UNESCO uses will also help you directly relate your experience and skills to the work the organization does, showing that you are a good candidate for the job.
Follow the instructions.
As simple as following the instructions may seem, it can be easy to get overconfident and miss crucial steps in the application. Following the instructions exactly as they are given shows that you pay attention to detail, can listen carefully, and are dedicated to ensuring accuracy. In any job, but especially in an international organization like UNESCO, your ability to follow instructions and pay attention to details will be valuable as you go through the application process.
Show what unique skills or experience sets you apart from other candidates.
Many of the candidates applying for UNESCO jobs will be excellently qualified for the work, just like you. Find ways to set your application apart through any unique or out-of-the-ordinary skills and experience you might have that would still be relevant to the work. If you don’t have anything that you think specifically stands out, think creatively about the experience and training you have to be able to talk about it in a way that shows your experience is different from all of the other qualified candidates. Don’t let your application get lost in the sea of all of the other applicants with similar backgrounds and interests.
Use your network of professionals.
As you begin your application for UNESCO, reach out to your network of human rights and development professionals to see if anyone has connections that may be helpful throughout your process. You may be able to find someone who can help you navigate the application process. You may even find a connection to UNESCO itself who is willing to vouch for your experience and reputation to recruiters. Especially if you have a network of professionals with extensive experience, use them to your advantage to help you make your application the strongest it can be and to make sure you stand out among the other candidates.