Join the UNHCR talent pools for a rewarding and meaningful career

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The UNHCR Talent Pools are well worth joining

The UNHCR Talent Pools are well worth joining

UNHCR's talent pools encourage relationship building with highly qualified, targeted candidates to enable UNHCR to focus on hiring the best talent and quickly in line with the urgent nature of its work. Due to the emergency nature of much of UNHCR’s work, talent pools of pre-vetted external candidates with the skills and expertise needed are being introduced as part of the UNHCR recruitment strategy. By allowing the UNHCR to respond in a more timely manner to common vacancies, as well as those more hard to fill profiles, the UNHCR is also able to focus on diversity and inclusion throughout the hiring process.

Being available on short notice

John Thomas, chief of talent outreach and acquisition at UNHCR stated “We are looking to have a group of people who are, on a short notice, able to take up a post without going through the whole recruitment cycle. The manager is still able to advertise internally because that is our rule, then if they can’t find anybody they come immediately to us and then we are able to release to them five or six individuals who have been vetted, whose references have been checked. All the manager has to do is do the final interview before making a final hiring decision,” he added.

UNHCR builds great relationships with candidates

The primary aim of the talent pool is to have a balanced number of ready-to-hire candidates for the most common or sought-after job profiles at various levels, who can be deployed at short notice to a vacancy that best matches their skills. These opportunities could be at entry- and mid-management levels (P2, P3 and P4), in key functional areas at country and regional offices, as well as headquarters. Once endorsed in the talent pools, shortlisted candidates are contacted to ascertain their availability, for deployment purposes and ongoing interest for fixed term or temporary appointments. Successful applicants remains in the talent pool for 12 months.  Due focus will be given on language needs, diversity and gender in maintaining these various talent pools.  Back in 2016 alone UNHCR has recruited over 200 external candidates for fix term appointments and over 500 for temporary appointments.

UNHCR's Application process

There are two ways you can enter a UNHCR talent pool:

  1. applying for a specific talent pool profile (functional profile) based on the candidate’s skills and expertise as listed below. See ‘Areas of Expertise’ section to access all currently available talent pool profiles.
  2. applying for a particular position (please refer to further information under the heading ‘international professional’). If not selected for the regular vacancy following a recruitment process, you may still be recommended for inclusion in a corresponding talent pool.

What's your areas of expertise?

Job requirements differ among grades and functions:

As positions may be at different grade levels, the eligibility requirements vary and are explained in detail above. However, the essential minimum requirements for applicants to the talent pools are as follows:

  • at least an undergraduate degree (equivalent to a BA/BS) from a UNESCO accredited university;
  • relevant working experience in the respective area of expertise;
  • proficiency in English is an essential requirement.

Depending on the duty station, a second UN language with proficiency at B2 level under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) may be required. The majority of positions filled through the talent pools are expected to be in non-family and/or hardship locations. The location of duty will be determined by UNHCR.

What's UNHC's selection process?

As part of UNHCR's profile-based recruitment exercise, all candidates undergo a comprehensive selection process that includes basic eligibility screening followed by various assessments (language, psychometric testing and functional assessment, as appropriate) and finally candidates are sent for grading. Candidates who pass these assessments will eventually be part of the final talent pool and will be contacted by a recruiter according to the needs of UNHCR to fill positions. Please note that being in the Final Pool does not mean that you will be hired by UNHCR. This actually means that you are part of the candidates who could be proposed to the Hiring Managers to fill positions and they will take the final decision after a comprehensive review.

Interested in joining UNHCR?

Whether you are an experienced professional or a recent graduate, UNHCR provides opportunities to take your career to the next level while building a better future for refugees. Interested in joining UNHCR, but not sure where to start? Please see their current career opportunities.


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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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