The UN Young Professionals Program (YPP) 2020 is open! Three proven measures that will increase your chances to be selected

The UN Young Professionals Program (YPP) 2020 is open! Three proven measures that will increase your chances to be selected

Are you 32 or younger in the year of the examination, fluent in either English or French, holding at least of first-level university degree relevant for the exam subject you are applying for, and a national of a participating country? If you answer ‘Yes’ to all of these questions, you meet the qualifications to apply for the 2020 YPP examination.

Like any UN’s selection process, the YPP examination is highly competitive. To increase your chances, you may have already tried to find out information online that could set your profile apart. The problem is that most of these sources describe the process rather than provide you with a ‘game plan’ to guide you throughout this process. That’s why we propose you three concrete steps that would potentially make a difference!

1. Present your profile… the UN way

Master the basics of job application

At this stage, you must be familiar with drafting an application that will differentiate you from other candidates. If you are not confident about it, you still have time to learn how you can impress recruiters from the aid and development sector and write the perfect résumé.

Know how to use a Personal History Profile (PHP)

However, when it comes to the UN, knowing how to highlight your skills is not enough. You also need to do so by using the right format – the Personal History Profile (PHP). For those of you not familiar with this template, it is a standard form used to process job applications received by the UN. The Inspira Guide also contains many tips and information that will help you generate a great PHP.

One of the sections you should pay attention to is the Summarize your achievements section. The objective of this section is not to reflect what you are currently doing at your present job or what you had done in your previous jobs, but ‘how well’ are you performing or did you perform your duties. If done correctly, this section could be of great help:

  • During the pre-screening of applications. It will set you apart as a candidate who not only has suitable experience for the position, but who can also exceed expectations, have innovative thinking, or demonstrate a high level of creativity. When the competition is fierce among YPP applicants, this section could determine whether you will reach the next level of examination.
  • During the interview. It can be a good base for your introductory presentation prior to beginning the competency-based part of the interview.

2. Practice. Practice. Practice for your written examination

There is no better advice. If you want to be part of the ‘luck few’ who will be called for an interview, you could follow this two-step practice program:

  • Increase your knowledge of the UN system and history; diplomacy and international cooperation; and the latest developments, progress, and issues in your field of expertise.
  • Master your ability to perform well during the examination, which consists of two parts: a General Paper aimed at testing your drafting and analytical abilities in either English or French; and a Specialized Paper aimed at testing your substantive knowledge and analytical thinking. To this end, you could find various online sources with sample questions. The UN is also sharing some official materials to give you a better idea of the examination process.

3. Find the right support network

The YPP examination is particularly difficult and demanding. No matter how well you prepare your application or the materials you have access to, success really comes down to having the right network of people who can guide you throughout the process.

For those of you who have no connection from within, the good thing is that it’s not the only option to be ahead of your competition:

Source #1 – Your ministry of foreign affairs.

Member States have a direct interest in YPP examinations since they would improve the ratio of their nationals within the UN system, especially for under-represented countries. Many of them have resources that would help you prepare for the examination, can provide guidance and support through this sometimes ‘nerve-racking’ process, or put you in touch with nationals who were successful.

Source #2 – Your university

If your Alma Mater is encouraging careers with the UN (e.g. Model United Nations, international career fairs with a strong presence of actors from the aid and development industry), try reaching out to them. Many would have materials to support your preparation or can also put you in touch with successful candidates to this examination.

Source #3 – Your professional network

For those with contacts at the UN, who have ideally taken this examination, you’re lucky! For the others, don’t despair: direct outreach via LinkedIn is another great option to dig out useful information.

Bonne chance!


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