Careers in international organisations

If you want a career in an international organisation you need a degree, relevant professional experience and excellent social skills. The FDFA aims to increase the number of Swiss nationals working in international organisations.

The FDFA has been tasked with increasing the number of Swiss nationals working in international organisations because of Switzerland's under-representation in a number of them. If you are interested in working for an international organisation the FDFA recommends that you contact the section in charge of Switzerland's presence in international organisations, which can help you with the application process.  

Swiss presence in international organisations

Forum cinfo 2016 – The Career Fair for International Cooperation

Logo Forum cinfo 2016
© Cinfo

Forum cinfo 2016, which will take place on 28 October 2016, provides both experienced and entry-level professionals the opportunity to meet and talk face-to-face with federal partners, NGOs, representatives of UN organisations, international financial institutions, further education and training providers, foundations and the private sector.

’A journey in international cooperation’ is the theme of this year’s Forum cinfo. Presentations, speeches and panel discussions will present and explore various aspects of international cooperation. Visitors will be able to learn more about working and living in fragile contexts, the role of new players in the international cooperation field, HR trends, the skills required to work in this field, career entry points and typical career options.

Agenda entry

Forum cinfo 2016


Getting into an international organisation

There are different ways to start your career in an international organisation. In addition to a degree and several years relevant professional experience, you need excellent social skills and flexibility if you want to have an international career. If you want to apply to work in an international organisation you need to:

  • be willing to work anywhere in the world, even in remote and/or unsafe regions, rural areas or crisis zones
  • be prepared to accept hardships in terms of quality of life, security and supplies (e.g. irregular supply of water or electricity, lack of healthcare services)
  • have intercultural skills: Working together with people from different countries requires patience and sensitivity.
  • have the ability to handle long periods of uncertainty concerning your employment contract. International organisations often employ staff on short-term contracts only and do not guarantee follow-on contracts.

List of jobs portals of key international and regional organisations

Applicants specialised in human rights

Human rights are one of the cornerstones of Swiss foreign policy. Two of the UN Human Rights Council's key mechanisms to promote and defend human rights are the 'special procedures' and the ‘treaty bodies’ of the UN, which ensure that the human rights conventions are being implemented and monitor how this is done. If you have recognised skills in the field of human rights here are some interesting links:

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Election of treaty body members

Special procedures: nomination, selection and appointment of mandate holders