Head, Communications Unit/United Nations Volunteers

Location : Bonn, GERMANY
Application Deadline :04-Oct-06 (Midnight New York, USA)
Type of Contract :100 Series
Post Number :1284
Post Level :P-4
Languages Required :
Duration of Initial Contract :One year


United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Programme
Established by the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN Programme that supports human development globally by actively promoting the concept of volunteerism for development, including through the mobilization of volunteers. UNV is administered by and aligned with the strategic goals of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), including those relating to support to the United Nations System as a whole. It operates amidst growing recognition that achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) -- a set of internationally-accepted targets that identify key elements of human development -- will also require the ingenuity, solidarity, and creativity of millions of ordinary people though voluntary action. As part of those, every year more than 8,000 UN Volunteers, representing some 160 different nationalities, are active participants in the programmes of the United Nations itself and almost all United Nations Funds, Programmes and Specialized Agencies in more than 140 countries. As the focal point for the International Year of Volunteers 2001 (IYV2001), UNV is active in the follow up to the Year, for which the key objectives were the recognition, facilitation, networking and promotion of volunteerism. The financial equivalent of programme activities exceeds US$150 million annually. UNV’s head office is in Bonn, Germany.

Organisational Setting:
The Communication Unit (CU) forms part of the Partnerships, Communications and Resource Mobilization Group (PCRG), which provides UNV with capacity to effectively engage in brand communications with a diverse global network of partners and stakeholders. PCRG also comprises Donor Relations and Partnerships.

Duties and Responsibilities

Job Summary:
Reporting to the Chief of PCRG, the Head of Communications develops and recommends communications and marketing strategies and implementation plans for review and endorsement by UNV’s Senior Management. These strategies and plans are aimed at promoting and advancing understanding of and support for UNV’s work, including through forging and strengthening relationships with UN system agencies, governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, and the global volunteer community. The incumbent will lead the implementation of agreed communication and marketing strategies and plans accordingly.

Specific duties include:

Communications Strategy:

  • Develop a brand communications and marketing strategy for UNV through an extensive internal consultative process, a wide-ranging review of external stakeholder information needs, and a review and endorsement process with senior management. Formulate and continually update policies that provide clear guidelines/parameters for public information activities.
  • Guide and support the brand communications activities implemented by UNV’s Country Offices.


  • Manage the development, production and dissemination of diverse publications and news releases – including: the Annual Report, UNV News (2/year), booklets on current issues on volunteerism and development/the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), regular press releases and news bulletins. Includes management of translation into relevant UN languages;
  • Oversee the content development, expansion and continual assessment of the innovative quality and relevance of web-based information services - for the UNV corporate website unvolunteers.org and the WorldVolunteerWeb portal.

Outreach, publicity and partnership-building:

  • Promote optimum visibility of UNV corporate and programme activities through: innovative outreach initiatives with diverse national, regional and international stakeholders; equipping managers, programme staff and volunteers to advocate/represent UNV effectively; and strategic networking with private-sector media partners and vis-à-vis public outreach with UNDP/UN system partners;
  • Manage the annual global campaign to promote volunteerism for development on International Volunteer Day (IVD) – engaging UNV programme staff and volunteers globally and managing the public information campaign worldwide.

Team Leadership:

  • Lead a diverse and dynamic Communications Unit team and facilitate effective collaborative work planning and implementation processes to meet agreed outputs. Provide a positive team environment where staff is able to perform optimally, respond to challenges creatively and collaboratively, and access coaching and mentoring as needed. Team results are achieved within the resources allocated while team morale is high;
  • Supervises the work of the Communications Unit and participates in senior management meetings and retreats;
    Participates in the briefing and training of UNV programme officers;
  • Stays abreast of evolving best practices in the areas of Communications in general in general and in the UN system in particular, paying particular attention to relevant and applicable approaches relevant to UNV’s context.

Resource Management:

  • Prepares annual budget proposal for the Communications Unit to ensure needed resources are requested to meet strategic outputs;
  • Monitors expenditures to ensure approved budget is not exceeded.



  • Proven ability to formulate strategic brand communications plans in line with corporate objectives and to effectively lead a diverse team in implementing such plans;
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills and the ability to be a team player in a multi-cultural management environment;
  • Strong management, leadership and team-building skills and ability to manage complex problems proactively and effectively;
  • Ability to network across professional, thematic and organizational boundaries, and collaborate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders;
  • Flexibility, adaptability and ability to motivate others and to work with others in an environment of experimentation and innovation;
  • Proven analytical and research skills relevant to communications work;
  • Basic IT competencies: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Internet plus experience with other IT tools/applications relevant to the Communication field (e.g. web-based information systems and inter-active electronic tools) an asset.

Required Skills and Experience

  • Advanced university degree in journalism, social sciences or related fields;
  • At least seven years of progressively responsible professional experience in journalism, public and/or private media relations, advertising or related activities, including at least 3 years with an international organization (preferably UN system); experience in a field/country office development setting highly desirable;
  • Excellent written and spoken English is essential – including editing capability;
  • Demonstrated ability to perform in a second UN working language (French and/or Spanish highly desirable). Knowledge of German an advantage;
  • Commitment to the values of volunteer action; knowledge of the UN system an important asset;
  • Previous experience of volunteer promotion and volunteer engagement is highly desirable.

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