1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Head of Communications and Outreach, P-4

  • Closing date: 25 Jul 2021
  • Vacancy number: CO 004


The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) is an autonomous research institute within the UN system that undertakes interdisciplinary research and policy analysis on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues. Through our work, we aim to ensure that social equity, inclusion and justice are central to development thinking, policy and practice.

UNRISD seeks an individual with outstanding credentials, who understands the importance of an integrated approach to research, communications, policy engagement, results and impact, to lead its communications and outreach work.

The ideal candidate will have demonstrated leadership capacity in conceptualizing, developing and implementing communications and outreach strategies for research in the area of social development; excellent written, spoken and visual communications skills; demonstrated ability to establish, lead and maintain effective teams and working relations; experience with results-based management, monitoring and evaluation methods; experience working in international settings and leading multicultural teams; and knowledge of the UN development system and the UN’s research and training institutes.

The incumbent will have overall responsibility for the direction and implementation of UNRISD's communications and outreach strategy and policy, as well as the publications, digital media, external visibility and branding of the Institute. S/he will supervise the work of a small team of talented communications personnel, and will work closely with research staff on programme/project communications, providing guidance for their implementation and for external communications more broadly. S/he will manage processes of reporting to the UNRISD Board, institutional funders and other stakeholders, overseeing an institutional results-based management logframe and data analysis and writing narrative reports. S/he will use the lessons learned from these processes to inform and improve UNRISD's activities. The incumbent will support the Director on the strategic direction and management of the Institute, partnerships and external relations.


Under the general supervision of the Director of UNRISD, the incumbent is responsible for the following duties:
  • Takes the lead in strategy, planning, development and implementation of the communications and outreach work of the Institute.
  • Provides advice and expertise to managers, senior officers and other staff on issues, methods, and approaches; anticipates and resolves communications/public relations issues/problems.
  • Develops strategic partnerships with key constituencies to elicit support for and maximize impact of promotional objectives; serves as a spokesperson/principal liaison to media organizations, governmental bodies, national groups, private sector organizations, educational organizations, international organizations, etc.
  • Prepares or oversees preparation of a diverse range of information and communications products in support of major campaign initiatives.
  • Drafts complex material for UN newsletters, periodicals, reports and books and edits drafts prepared by junior officers.
  • Manages processes of annual reporting to the Board, institutional donors and other stakeholders; coordinates results-based management data collection and analysis.
  • Represents the institution in meetings and conferences; fulfills speaking engagements and makes presentations to groups on UNRISD activities and issues of concern; organizes media coverage and arranges for media contacts, briefings, interviews; organizes seminars, lectures, conferences, public events on major issues and events concerning the institution.
  • Builds information networks; plans and oversees maintenance of publicly accessible information and communications materials; plans and develops outreach activities.
  • Manages publications programme; produces materials for print/electronic/voice/visual media.
  • Coordinates the substantive and administrative activities of the communications and outreach unit, interpreting and disseminating policy, providing procedural advice, improving reporting systems, handling operational and administrative queries, preparing budget submissions, establishing and/or coordinating training programmes and monitoring and evaluating results.
  • Coordinates and directs a team of communications and outreach personnel and/or mentors and supervises the work of junior officers on specific projects.

Work implies frequent interaction with the following: Senior public information officers, operations staff and other specialists and senior managers throughout the UN, and senior officials of organs and agencies of the UN system. Translators, designers, printers. Journalists and news media. Senior officials of international, regional and national organizations, senior officials in government bodies and agencies, non-governmental organizations, businesses, academia and other areas of civil society.

Results expected: Develops and implements a creative approach to communications and outreach and ensures effective design and delivery of research outputs in accordance with overall objectives and policies. Serves as an effective spokesperson and forms strong partnerships with relevant parties involved to engender support for and advance the institution’s public information agenda. Provides sound advice and services in dealing with substantive matters concerning public information operations. Personnel are guided, supported and motivated in their tasks. Writes clear, effective and accurate reports, oversees institutional results-based management log frame and data analysis. Supports the strategic direction of the Institute, partnerships and external relations.

Core Competencies
  • Professionalism: State-of-the-art knowledge of different aspects of development research communication. Ability to address a range of issues in the context of political developments, public attitudes and local conditions. Ability to conceptualize, design and implement major communication campaigns. Ability to rapidly analyze and integrate diverse information from varied sources. Ability to diplomatically handle sensitive situations with target audiences and cultivate productive relationships. Ability to produce a variety of written communications products in a clear, concise style. Ability to deliver oral presentations to various audiences. Shows pride in work and in achievements; demonstrates professional competence and mastery of subject matter; is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; is motivated by professional rather than personal concerns; shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; remains calm in stressful situations. Takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work.
  • Communication: Speaks and writes clearly and effectively; listens to others, correctly interprets messages from others and responds appropriately; asks questions to clarify, and exhibits interest in having two-way communication; tailors language, tone, style and format to match audience; demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed.
  • Teamwork: Works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve organizational goals; solicits input by genuinely valuing others’ ideas and expertise; is willing to learn from others; places team agenda before personal agenda; supports and acts in accordance with final group decision, even when such decisions may not entirely reflect own position; shares credit for team accomplishments and accepts joint responsibility for team shortcomings.
  • Planning and Organizing: Develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies; identifies priority activities and assignments; adjusts priorities as required; allocates appropriate amount of time and resources for completing work; foresees risks and allows for contingencies when planning; monitors and adjusts plans and actions as necessary; uses time efficiently.
  • Accountability: Takes ownership of all responsibilities and honours commitments; delivers outputs for which one has responsibility within prescribed time, cost and quality standards; operates in compliance with organizational regulations and rules; supports subordinates, provides oversight and takes responsibility for delegated assignments; takes personal responsibility for his/her own shortcomings and those of the work unit, where applicable.
  • Creativity: Actively seeks to improve programmes or services; offers new and different options to solve problems or meet client needs; promotes and persuades others to consider new ideas; takes calculated risks on new and unusual ideas; thinks “outside the box”; takes an interest in new ideas and new ways of doing things; is not bound by current thinking or traditional approaches.
  • Client Orientation: Considers all those to whom services are provided to be “clients” and seeks to see things from clients’ point of view; establishes and maintains productive partnerships with clients by gaining their trust and respect; identifies clients’ needs and matches them to appropriate solutions; monitors ongoing developments inside and outside the clients’ environment to keep informed and anticipate problems; keeps clients informed of progress or setbacks in projects; meets timeline for delivery of products or services to client.
  • Leadership and Vision: Proactively develops strategies to accomplish objectives; clearly communicates links between the strategy and the work unit’s goals.
  • Empowering Others: Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to establish, lead and maintain effective teams and working relations; delegate appropriate responsibility, give staff autonomy in important areas of their work; support creativity and initiative; and recognize achievement and effort.
  • Judgement and Decision-making: Gathers relevant information before making a decision; considers positive and negative impacts of decisions prior to making them; takes decisions with an eye to the impact on others and on the Organization.


Education: Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in communication, journalism, international relations, social sciences or related field. A first-level university degree in combination with at least two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Experience: A minimum of seven years of progressively responsible experience in public information, journalism or related area, of which at least four years in development research communications. At least four years of experience in a UN organization, or in another international organization with close and regular engagement with the UN, is highly desirable.

Languages: Fluency in English (both oral and written) is required. Knowledge of French is highly desirable. Knowledge of other UN official languages is an advantage.

Deadline for applications: 25 July 2021 (23:59, Central European Summer Time)

Contract: One year fixed-term (renewal subject to availability of funds).

Starting date: November/December 2021

Application process:
  • Applicants are advised to become familiar with the work of UNRISD, including the UNRISD Strategy 2021-2025, before applying for this position.
  • If you are interested in the work elaborated above and fulfil the required qualifications, please apply online by clicking the button below.
  • Due to limited staff resources only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

UNRISD is committed to achieving personnel diversity and all individuals are equally encouraged to apply.

UNRISD vacancies are posted at www.unrisd.org/vacancies. We encourage you to sign up for MyUNRISD to be informed promptly of any openings.