OpenIGO | International Careers Development Network
UN YPP Cover Letter - Writing an Effective Cover Letter for the United Nations YPP

Online Magazine

UN YPP Cover Letter - Writing an Effective Cover Letter for the United Nations YPP

April 22, 2023

UN YPP Cover LetterUN YPP Cover Letter 

As part of their Personal History Profile (PHP) – online application form –, candidates are required to submit a cover letter as part of their application. The main goal of this document is to give candidates a chance to introduce themselves and explain their motivation in applying to the UN YPP. The cover letter is a very important part of your application, and in this short article we will guide you through the process of writing and structuring it.


Have you been invited for a UN YPP interview? Get the best preparation for this challenging stage now:



To help you feel more secure and increase your chances of passing the Application stage, OpenIGO Network has developed an application review service, which is carried out by a native English proofreader and a PhD professor with extensive experience in the UN YPP.

Click here to find out more about it: 

UN YPP Application Review

Our team has also developed a comprehensive manual (PDF eBook) to help you better understand the UN Young Professionals Programme itself and the stages of the selection process, allowing you to perform successfully in each of them. In our eBook you will learn how to craft a strong Cover Letter that will make you stand out from other candidates: 

UN YPP – eBook

This article is only a small sample from the extensive content present in the chapter “Writing an Effective Cover Letter for the UN YPP” of our E-Book.


Important Information about Cover Letters

As the name suggests, a cover letter serves as a “cover” for the documents you submit for a job application. It should provide a summary of a candidate’s skills, professional experience, and qualifications that meet the needs of a job opening, emphasizing why the candidate should be selected. Cover letters are usually seen as a personal marketing tool. Typically, they are meant to “sell” the candidate by showing recruiters the qualities and skills that s/he possesses that are in line with the prospective job. This way, evaluators are able to gain a better perspective on the candidate’s attributes and their main motivation for applying. The text should represent the candidate positively and objectively. It should be short, yet contain enough information to keep the reader interested in reading the rest of the application. When well written, such a document immediately demonstrates the participant’s abilities in written communication and the organization of ideas, as well as their argumentative capacity.

In the UN YPP selection process, the cover letter is a part of the candidate’s Personal History Profile, serving as an introduction to the latter. It should contextualize your PHP and all its information in an objective fashion, highlighting the elements that are in line with the UN YPP exam area. Its main objective is to reinforce the candidate’s positive qualities in order to arouse the evaluator’s interest and desire to know more about the individual.

In order to write a strong UN YPP cover letter, it is important to know what the recruiters will be looking for, so here are some of the aspects the recruiting team seeks to evaluate:

  • Competencies: Competencies may be understood as the candidate’s set of knowledge, abilities, attitudes and values. It is important for the candidate to show that they have the main competencies the organization is seeking, such as Professionalism, Teamwork, and Planning & Organizing. Since the United Nations is indisputably a value-driven organization, your personal values and the manner in which they are linked to the organization’s should also be highlighted.
  • Knowledge about the organization: It is expected that the candidate demonstrates knowledge about the United Nations, such as its mission, its operational approach, activities, and main objectives (knowledge of the Sustainable Development Goals).
  • Cultural fit: Showing sound knowledge of the organization is not enough. The candidate should highlight that there is compatibility between their values, principles, objectives, and understanding of reality with those of the organization.
  • Communicative capacity: The cover letter enables the recruiter to evaluate the candidate’s writing skills and their ability to structure ideas and coherently defend arguments.

When writing your cover letter, take all of the aforementioned aspects into consideration and make them evident throughout the document when expressing three main things: your interest in working for the organization, the reason you are interested in the vacancy (or in a specific exam area, in the case of the UN YPP), and why you are a strong candidate for the position.


Structure and Content of a Cover Letter

Choosing what to write in your cover letter can be a challenging task, especially if you have experienced multiple and diverse professional/academical engagements throughout the years. This section will provide you with guidance on choosing the most relevant experiences to expound upon and the best way of structuring them in writing.

First of all, keep in mind that recruiters are primarily looking to read information that gives them a clear perception of the benefits you can offer the organization, if selected, and the ways in which you intend to help it to solve problems. To that end, a great way to display your skills and competencies is by choosing relevant stories from past professional or academic engagements where these competencies stood out. Remember to use keywords from the Competencies section of the UN YPP job opening for this part.

At our Online Magazine, we have an article only on competencies required by the UN YPP! Check it out here:

UN YPP Competencies

In chapter 06 of our UN YPP Manual for Candidates, we define what kind of work experience is considered as “relevant” for the UN YPP:

“Taking into consideration the UN recruitment guidelines, prior professional engagements are considered as ‘relevant’ if your duties are closely linked to the ‘Responsibilities’ outlined in the job opening you are applying for.”

 When choosing relevant facts/stories to share in your cover letter, take the aforementioned definition into consideration, especially if you have had previous professional experience. Keep in mind, however, that the number one stipulation for an engagement to be considered “relevant” in the cover letter section of your PHP is that it showcase that you have the competencies required by the job opening you are applying for. An important volunteering activity that you engaged in, for example, although not directly related to your exam area, could be considered relevant if you tailor the story around the specific required competencies.

Keywords from the UN YPP job opening can also be used to display your knowledge of the organization. You can even demonstrate awareness of any particular challenges or developments the United Nations is currently facing within the specific exam area you are applying for.

UN YPP Cover Letter

Please note that there is no single way to structure your UN YPP cover letter. The fundamental aspect of an effective structure is that the logical sequence of the parts is able to tell your story. Also, know that long texts should be avoided—one page is a good length to cover the main topics. The recommended length is 400-600 words. Since UN YPP candidates are required to enter their cover letter in a field on the Inspira platform, a good tip in order to get a better idea of the length of your text is to write it in a separate document on your computer and then copy and paste the final version to the designated field. This also serves the purpose of saving your document to your computer prior to submitting it. Since your session on Inspira times out every twenty minutes, this is highly recommended.


Checkpoints for a Cover Letter

In this section, some general checkpoints have been listed for you to pay special attention to when writing and revising your cover letter. Make sure to go through all of them prior to submitting your final version to Inspira.

  • Language

As far as “language” is concerned, here is a list of aspects you should pay attention to:

– Avoid clichés, idioms and outdated language.

– Beware of errors in grammar, use of verb tense, and punctuation. Show that you have an understanding of the language’s basic rules. If possible, use a spell checker or have a proofreader analyze your content when you’ve finished writing your cover letter.

– Give preference to writing out the full names of organizations, positions and people.

– Remember to use the first person singular to describe your personal accomplishments and achievements.

– A broad vocabulary should be used, which is appropriate for the United Nations, the competencies the program seeks, and the exam area.

– Do not use words and expressions without being sure of their meaning. Although it is important to have an extensive vocabulary, it is a mistake to think that you should misuse elaborate words which are hard to understand.

– Avoid repeating words and expressions, as they make the text tiresome and unattractive.

– Avoid slang, abbreviations (such as “asap” for example), or traces of the spoken word (that is, informal expressions typical of oral conversations).

– It is recommended that you refrain from using general terms, which demonstrate absolute certainty, such as: “always”, “never”, “every time”, “undoubtedly”, etc. Exchange these for softer expressions, such as: “possibly”, “one can imagine”, “probably”, and “it is inferred that”, among others.

  • Organization

Read your cover letter and ask yourself why the sentences and paragraphs are arranged in that order. If you cannot find a justification, it is likely that your cover letter is not logically organized;

  • Review your Cover Letter

Doublecheck the grammar, spelling, verbal agreement, and cohesion, and especially check that the information is consistent with what you have put in your PHP;

  • Feedback

After finalizing your cover letter, show it to your colleagues and ask them to provide sincere comments on its content and organization of ideas. In this way, any mistakes which you had not noticed in preparing the document can be identified and corrected. Ideally, you should ask for the opinion of someone who does not have a close emotional tie with you or has enough maturity to be neutral, since, generally speaking, people who are very close are embarrassed about being critical, even when they have identified mistakes. Getting professional feedback is a plus in competitive selection processes such as the UN YPP, and can highly increase your chances of passing the first screening round. That is why OpenIGO offers a complete Application Review for candidates applying for the program. You can find out more about this service at our online store. We can help you suceed in this competitive selection process!

Access the following link to know more about our UN YPP products: 

UN YPP – Products & Services

Read also: UN YPP – Overview

Magazine: Understanding the UN YPP Written Exam

OpenIGO overall services are extremely well-rated by those who bought them! These are some of the testimonials we’ve had for our products:

Tags: united nations cover letter example/ united nations cover letter format/ model united nations cover letter/ united nations jobs cover letter/ how to write a united nations cover letter/ cover letter for united nations application/ united nations cover letter sample/ united nations cover letter sample pdf/ best cover letter united nations/ cover letter for united nations/ cover letter for united nations ypp/ cover letter for united nations sample/ cover letter united nations tips/ united nations ypp cover letter
UNYPP Website

Related Posts

  • September 10, 2023
    know more
  • September 10, 2023
    know more
  • September 10, 2023
    UN YPP Exam: Understanding the Examination Stage
    know more
  • September 08, 2023
    How to prepare for the UN YPP Written Examination
    know more
  • September 08, 2023
    UN YPP Exam Subjects [Economics & IT]: A Guide to Your Dream Job
    know more
  • August 20, 2023
    Studying for the UN YPP? Here are Some Reading Materials To Help!
    know more

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

I understand

Get updates and tips about the United Nations YPP!

Receive first-hand news and tips on the UN YPP, as well
as exclusive offers from our products & services!

We guarantee the security of your data, we will send emails only with the necessary information about process updates.