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When work means so much more

 May 13, 2015

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Enjoying a rewarding and fulfilling career that draws upon the right combination of professional skills and experience is key.

We caught up with UNHCR to find out what draws people from all over the world to join the agency and support its mission to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees.

Established in 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly, UNHCR is the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide.

We asked UNHCR's John Thomas, Chief, Talent Outreach and Acquisition why people are drawn to UNHCR.

"Talented people join UNHCR because of its mandate, protecting and caring for persons of concern, being refugees or displaced persons. When joining our organization, they know that they can be posted anywhere in the world where UNHCR has operations, mainly in hardship locations due to conflict or natural disasters," explains John.

What are some of the most prized qualities of UNHCR people?

"They're dedicated to the humanitarian cause. They're resilient team players, who are comfortable in multicultural environments and hardship situations, and they're inclusive in their approach to the work."    

John Thomas, UNHCRWe were keen to find out what sort of professional backgrounds UNHCR people have, and they types of work they'd done previously.

John explained that UNHCR's core functions relate to protecting and caring for refugees and displaced persons so this requires professionals with backgrounds in International and Human Rights law, to deal with refugee status determination, their registration, their protection, and ultimately, their resettlement either back home or in another country. It also requires caring for refugees, mostly through partnerships with other organizations in the areas of livelihoods, schooling for children, food, and medical care.

John explained that UNHCR is also adapting to a continuously changing humanitarian landscape requiring more specialized skills such as in the areas of shelter, water sanitation and health (WASH), energy and environment, economics, and others.

Further, John pointed out that the safety of UNHCR staff is paramount for the organization to be able to care for persons of concern. "In this regard, it also requires safety experts with relevant training."

"UNHCR also relies on a support infrastructure in the areas of IT and HR where specialist professionals are also required. And finally, UNHCR relies on the excellent work of its external relations, where professionals in communication and advocacy, and fundraising, make it possible to finance its operations", explains John.

John himself has been in the humanitarian workplace for a number of years. Prior to that, he worked in an international financial  organization for over a decade. When asked why he is proud to work for UNHCR, John quickly suggests that he is very eager to serve, to protect and to facilitate long term effective solutions.

We asked John about one of the biggest achievements he felt he’d contributed to - and his response was humble. He did however remark that with his colleagues in the Talent Outreach and Acquisition team he is helping secure some impressive hires by recruiting the right kind of people for the right positions, all in a very timely manner.

We wanted to know from John what he would say to people if they were considering whether or not UNHCR might be the right employment opportunity for them.

"Passion" remarks John. "UNHCR is for people who are not just driven by bonuses and cash incentives. You're here to provide a service. Sometimes you're called upon to work in dangerous and hardship posts. You need to have the right kind of attitude. You need to know yourself well and have a mature approach so that you can manage stress, pressure and uncertainty."

One of the most interesting things about UNHCR is that everyone at the organization has very impressive and excellent qualifications, diverse skills and training, and they apply them well.

UNHCR careers

So if you're thinking about a humanitarian career, have professional skills and experience, are bi-lingual and have an appetite for making a difference in the world - perhaps UNHCR is for you.

Explore their wide range of careers or learn more about where your talent might be best placed.

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