OpenIGO | International Careers Development Network
Top Skills to Have for Intergovernmental Organizations Listings

Online Magazine

Top Skills to Have for Intergovernmental Organizations Listings

March 3, 2023



Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) are essential players in international affairs, promoting cooperation and diplomacy between nations.

They bring together different governments and work towards achieving common goals, such as peace, security, and economic development. Working for an IGO can be a fulfilling career choice, but it requires specific skills and competencies.

In this guide, you’ll find some of the top skills needed for work at Intergovernmental Organizations.


In pursuit of its mission, the OpenIGO network has developed a comprehensive eBook, as well as support and guidance services, with the aim of highly increasing your chances of success in these competitive selection processes. These services include revising your UN Jobs application documents (Curriculum vitae/Resume, Cover Letter) and a mock interview, as per the original UN Jobs model.

We have already helped dozens of candidates become UN Professionals and we can also assist you in passing this competitive selection process!

For more info, access:

UN System Jobs: Products & Services


Skills for Intergovernmental Organizations

Cross-Cultural Communication

Cross-cultural communication is one of the crucial skills for working in intergovernmental organizations. IGOs work with people from all over the world, and it is essential to understand and respect cultural differences to build relationships and promote cooperation.

One of the challenges of cross-cultural communication is that different cultures may have different communication styles, norms, and values.

For example, in some cultures, direct communication is valued, while in others, indirect communication is preferred. Understanding these differences is crucial in communicating effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds.

Another challenge of cross-cultural communication is language barriers. Even if individuals speak the same language, they may have different dialects or accents that can make communication difficult. Individuals may use different expressions, idioms, or figures of speech that are specific to their culture, which can lead to misunderstandings.

To communicate effectively across cultural barriers, it is essential to develop cultural intelligence, which is the ability to understand and appreciate different cultural perspectives.

This can be achieved by learning about different cultures, their customs, values, and beliefs, and by being open-minded and respectful when interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds.

When communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds, it is essential to be clear and concise in your message. This may involve simplifying your language or avoiding jargon and technical terms that may not be understood by people who are not familiar with your field.

Active listening is a crucial aspect of cross-cultural communication. By listening actively and attentively, you can gain a better understanding of the other person’s perspective and show that you respect and value their input.


Language Skills

Language skills are an essential asset for individuals working in intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). IGOs work with people from different nations and regions, and being fluent in multiple languages can be a significant advantage in communicating and negotiating with international partners.

In the context of IGOs, language skills are critical for several reasons.

Language skills can help in understanding different cultural perspectives. Language is often closely tied to culture, and being able to speak a language fluently can provide insights into the cultural norms, values, and beliefs of the people who speak it. This can be particularly valuable in negotiations or when working on projects that involve people from different cultural backgrounds.

Having language skills can be a significant advantage in the job market. As the world becomes increasingly globalized, the ability to speak multiple languages is becoming more valuable in many industries, including international affairs.

It is worth noting that the United Nations has six official languages, including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. Being fluent in one or more of these languages can be a significant advantage for individuals looking to work in the United Nations or other IGOs.

Interpreters play a vital role in intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) as they facilitate communication between individuals and groups who speak different languages. As such, having strong language skills is critical for interpreters working in IGOs.

A well-crafted interpreter resume should highlight the applicant’s fluency in multiple languages, including any official languages used by the IGO. It’s important to mention any specialized training or certifications in interpreting, such as simultaneous interpretation or court interpreting.

Interpreters should also emphasize their experience working in international settings, as this demonstrates their ability to navigate diverse cultural environments and work effectively with individuals from different backgrounds.


Diplomacy and Negotiation

IGOs are involved in negotiations and decision-making on various international issues, such as peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, and environmental protection. Having strong diplomacy and negotiation skills is critical for achieving the organization’s goals and objectives.

Effective diplomacy and negotiation require several skills, including the ability to understand different perspectives, develop strategies, communicate clearly, and find mutually beneficial solutions.

Diplomacy involves building relationships with international partners and finding common ground on issues of mutual interest. Negotiation, on the other hand, involves reaching agreements that satisfy the needs and interests of all parties involved.

To be effective in diplomacy and negotiation, individuals must be able to understand and appreciate different perspectives.

This involves being open-minded, empathetic, and culturally sensitive, as different cultures may have different values and beliefs. Understanding these differences can help individuals find common ground and build relationships based on mutual trust and respect.

Individuals should be able to develop strategies that can help achieve their objectives. This may involve identifying potential challenges, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, and developing contingency plans.

Clear communication is another critical aspect of diplomacy and negotiation. Individuals should be able to communicate their ideas and proposals clearly and concisely, taking into account cultural and linguistic differences.

Finding mutually beneficial solutions is critical to successful diplomacy and negotiation. Individuals should be able to identify areas of agreement and find creative solutions that satisfy the needs and interests of all parties involved. This may involve compromise, concessions, and innovative approaches that can help achieve the organization’s goals and objectives.


Analytical and Research Skills

IGOs work on complex and pressing issues that require careful analysis and research. They need individuals with strong analytical and research skills to evaluate policies, develop strategies, and assess the impact of their actions.

Analytical skills involve the ability to gather and analyze information from various sources, identify patterns and trends, and draw conclusions based on evidence. In the context of IGOs, individuals must be able to analyze complex data sets, such as economic indicators or demographic trends, and draw insights that can inform decision-making.

Research skills involve the ability to design and conduct research projects, collect and analyze data, and present findings in a clear and concise manner. In the context of IGOs, individuals must be able to conduct research on various issues, such as human rights violations or environmental degradation, and produce reports that inform policy decisions.

Individuals must be able to evaluate policies and assess their impact on various stakeholders. This involves understanding the social, economic, and political contexts in which policies operate, as well as the potential unintended consequences of policy decisions.

Analytical and research skills are also critical for developing strategies and making informed decisions. Individuals must be able to assess the effectiveness of different approaches, evaluate risks and opportunities, and make decisions based on evidence and sound reasoning.

Individuals should be able to communicate their findings and insights effectively. This involves presenting complex information in a clear and concise manner, using visual aids and other tools to communicate complex data sets effectively.


Project Management

IGOs work on a wide range of projects, including humanitarian aid, peacekeeping missions, and development initiatives. These projects often involve complex processes, diverse stakeholders, and challenging timelines.

Strong project management skills are critical for organizing resources, setting goals, monitoring progress, and ensuring projects are completed on time and within budget.

Effective project management involves several key skills, including planning, organizing, monitoring, and controlling. Individuals must be able to develop project plans, set realistic goals and timelines, and allocate resources effectively. This involves working closely with stakeholders to understand their needs and objectives and develop a shared vision for the project.

Organizing resources is another critical aspect of project management. This involves identifying the resources needed to complete the project, such as funding, personnel, and equipment, and ensuring they are available when needed. Individuals must be able to manage resources effectively, including developing budgets, managing contracts, and coordinating logistics.

Monitoring progress is also critical for effective project management. Individuals must be able to track progress against project goals and timelines, identify potential risks and challenges, and take corrective action as needed. This involves developing monitoring and evaluation plans, collecting data, and analyzing results to identify areas for improvement.

Controlling is essential for successful project management. This involves taking corrective action when necessary to ensure the project stays on track and within budget. Individuals must be able to manage risks effectively, identify and resolve issues that arise, and adjust project plans as needed to ensure success.


Knowledge of International Law and Politics

IGOs work within a framework of international law and politics to address global issues, ranging from human rights violations to environmental degradation, and many others.

International law refers to a set of rules and principles that govern the relationships between states and other international actors.

IGOs, such as the United Nations, work to promote and enforce international law to ensure that states adhere to their obligations under international treaties and conventions.

Having knowledge of international law is important for individuals working in IGOs to understand the legal implications of their actions, make informed decisions, and advocate for compliance with international standards.

Politics also plays a significant role in the work of IGOs. International politics involves the interactions and relationships between different states, as well as other international actors such as NGOs, multinational corporations, and other IGOs.

Understanding international politics is crucial for IGOs to navigate complex power dynamics and negotiate with other states and actors to achieve their goals.

Understanding international law and politics helps IGOs to address pressing global issues such as climate change, human rights violations, and conflicts.

For instance, individuals working in the International Criminal Court need to have a thorough understanding of international law to investigate and prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Skills for Intergovernmental Organizations: Conclusion

Working for an intergovernmental organization can be a rewarding career choice, but it requires a unique set of skills and competencies. In this article, you’ve learned about the skills needed for work at Intergovernmental Organizations.

By developing and strengthening the skills outlined above, you can position yourself for success in the competitive field of international affairs.


With that in mind, check out our eBook, “Landing your dream job at the United Nations”, which will help you develop all competencies necessary to land your dream job at the United Nations System. It will introduce you to the complex world of the United Nations and it will guide you through all the stages of the selection process. Access:

eBook – Landing your dream job at the United Nations

Related Posts

  • February 27, 2023
    Entering the Workforce as a Person With Disabilities
    know more
  • February 25, 2023
    Guidance For Students To Write A Unique Scholarship Essay
    know more
  • February 25, 2023
    UN Volunteers: How volunteering can help you develop important competencies
    know more
  • January 20, 2023
    Legal Opportunities at UN: YPP for Law Professionals
    know more
  • January 17, 2023
    5 highly profitable international career opportunities
    know more
  • October 25, 2022
    Youth Action in Transforming Education and Achieving the SDGs
    know more

By continuing to browse this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Read our privacy policy

I understand