George Clooney or the UN?

Many thanks to my colleague Sarah Innes for this blog post on the recent United Nations recruitment presentation – it includes some great insights on how to develop your potential as a candidate – Rebecca

There was a buzz in wet and blustery Edinburgh last Thursday night – not the arrival of George Clooney for the Scottish Business Awards but the United Nations recruitment presentation to around 400 Edinburgh students at George Square.

Always a major highlight in the Careers calendar the packed lecture theatre clearly demonstrated the huge popularity of the UN as a target employer for Edinburgh students. Speakers John Erikson and Michael Emery from the New York Secretariat and UNFPA delivered a superb session on careers in the United Nations packed with advice on how to develop your potential as a candidate.

This included a compelling exploration of how the work landscape is changing with both presenters emphasising the importance of candidates both understanding their own unique offering to potential employers, and being able to navigate career pathways by building networks and experience. The strong message was that there are no set pathways – ambitious candidates must take responsibility for their careers and be willing to compete in a global market place. Networking should be seen as a long term reciprocal relationship and candidates who stand out for the most competitive roles will be those who go beyond simply building their contact book by developing these relationships and creating opportunities for others. In a university context this can be practised by building clubs and societies, taking responsibility in a volunteering context or by championing others through peer support or class representation. It also has the added benefit of equipping you to address those competency based questions!

Sharing these thoughts later with a colleague who recruits graduates in industry, she heartily agreed. There is an emotional intelligence and maturity, she remarked, that has to be developed at university to ensure that candidates stand out. This cannot be ‘faked’ and is a highly valued quality when it appears.

Maintaining a holistic approach to your career development is a strategy long advocated by careers consultants and an approach strongly backed by employers.

For more information and specific advice on competency based interviewing, see the UN’s recruitment youtube channel.  You can also view Michael’s video on Competency Based Interviews on the channel.

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