28 February 2020

#Work4UN: The Junior Professional Officer Programme

The United Nations, with offices in 193 countries and 37,000 employees, is the world’s largest universal multilateral international organization. It inspires people from around the world to join its mission of maintaining peace, advancing human rights and promoting justice, equality and development. 

Securing employment with the Organization can seem like a daunting task, but as the scope of its work is global and multidimensional, there are many different entry points for candidates of varied educational backgrounds and diverse professional experience. UNAI designed the #Work4UN series to help you understand the UN, its structure, and some of the most common avenues available to join the organization. Today’s article is the third in the series and focuses on the Junior Professional Officers (JPO) Programme.

Junior Professional Officers (JPO) Programme

The United Nations Junior Professional Officer Programme recruits Junior Professional Officers (JPOs) and Special Assistants to the Resident Coordinators (SARCs) for the UN Secretariat and associated entities. Candidates are recruited under bilateral agreements between the UN and donor countries, so JPOs/SARCs are usually nationals of donor countries, with the exception of some donors who finance nationals of developing countries.

The main objective of the JPO Programme is to provide young professionals with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the field of multilateral international cooperation through a learning experience under the supervision of specialists, and to contribute to the advancement and furtherance of their organization’s mandate, particularly with regard to the Sustainable Development Goals.

The number of sponsored positions varies from year to year and by donor country. Initially JPOs are granted a one-year appointment (on the P-1/P-2 level for JPOs and P-3 level for SARCs) which may be extended with the agreement of the donor country and on the basis of good performance.

Candidates are young professionals, usually with an advanced university degree and minimum two years of professional experience for JPOs and a minimum of five years of experience for SARCs. Many donor countries require applicants to be under the age of 32 when applying to their JPO Programme, however the age limit varies depending on the donor country.

Interested candidates can access the JPO vacancy announcements on the respective country Ministry of Foreign Affairs websites or on the Junior Professional Officer Programme website. Specific requirements and application procedures can be found on the sponsoring Governments’ Minister of Foreign Affairs websites listed.  Applications should be submitted directly to the sponsoring donor governments.

The preliminary assessment of candidacies is carried out, in most cases, by the respective donor governments who consider language skills, academic background and professional experience. A short-list is then submitted by the donor government to the substantive United Nations office, which makes the final selection based on the outcome of competency-based interviews conducted via videoconference, by telephone, or in person.

As of January 2020, the Programme has managed assignments for 295 JPOs from 24 donor countries with 36 different nationalities. The JPOs have been assigned to more than 37 duty stations around the world, working for more than 37 different UN Departments/Offices including Regional Commissions and Peacekeeping Missions.

UNAI conducted a series of interviews with United Nations staff members to provide additional information on working for the UN, and to allow staff members the opportunity to share their professional and personal insights into working for the Organization. In this video, Andrea Theocharis, Human Resources Officer, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), provides an overview of the JPO Programme. Alaa Alsairery, JPO, UN Department of Global Communications (DGC), and Gabiden Laumulin, JPO, UN Office of Disarmament Affairs (ODA), share their experiences joining the UN as Junior Professional Officers sponsored by their countries.

If you have questions about the JPO programme, you can submit your inquiries to hr-jpo@un.org,

Additional Resources

#Work4UN: The Junior Professional Officer Programme