Let employers know that you can speak the lingo!

Tu parles francais?? ¿Hablas español? Speaking a second language gets you more than just bragging rights - it could also land you your dream job. If you're fluent in a second or even a third language, you're going to want to highlight that on your CV. This in-demand skill could be the difference between landing your dream job and getting passed over. It's a huge deal. 

Why should you list languages on your CV?

According to an article from CNBC, UK employers are looking for candidates who speak multiple languages. This is especially true in the wake of Brexit, since the pool of available workers has become smaller, meaning less options for employers. 

So, what languages are employers looking for? Good question. Research from Indeed, the job website, revealed the top 10 languages that employers currently ask for in postings. In order of popularity, these were: German, French, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Japanese, Russian, and Arabic. However, the language that a company is looking for will depend largely on the business and the clients that it works with. For that reason, whatever language you speak, it's definitely a bonus to employers.

Why companies need multilingual employees 

There are plenty of reasons that multilingual workers are in demand. The realms of business are increasingly global, which means that companies need to work seamlessly with international brands. With that in mind, here are some of the reasons that employing multilingual staff members can be a huge advantage for business owners: 

1. Dealing with international partners

If a business has clients or partners overseas, having employees that can speak their language is a massive plus. This move instils a sense of trust for the third parties and helps business transactions to progress more smoothly. 

2. Translation purposes 

Of course, some companies will need to translate materials such as marketing copy and instructional guides. For that reason, they may be looking for employees who speak multiple languages and can translate a range of documents. 

3. Customer services 

Spoiler: Not every customer will speak English. The more languages that a business can operate in, the wider its reach. Hiring staff members that can speak a range of languages gives businesses the opportunity to connect directly with a wider range of customers, helping them to feel supported and valued. Just as with clients and partners, engaging with customers in their native language also increases trust. 

Where should you list your languages?

Showcasing your language skills on your CV is a must. So, where and how should you do this? Most candidates tend to list both their language and their proficiency (we'll get to that in a minute!) on this document. There are a few places that you can add your language skills on your CV. These include: 

  • Personal summary: if the job you're applying for depends on you speaking a specific language, you may want to highlight this at the top of your CV
  • Skills section: this is perhaps the most logical place to list your language proficiency in a bullet-point format
  • Education: should you have a specific language qualification, you can mention it here too 

Where you list your language skills depends on the role you're applying for. For example, if you're going for a translation role, your language skills will be essential to the position. In that case, you may decide to list them at the top of the document so that the recruiter sees them right away. On the other hand, if the job posting doesn't mention the need for any particular language skills, you may only want to include them within the skills section.  

Different levels of language proficiency 

Now that you've identified where to list your language skills on your CV, let's talk about proficiency levels. Of course, it's important that you are crystal clear about your language levels. It's no good faking it until you make it… unless you want to end up in a particularly sticky situation. That means putting a label on how well you can read, speak, and write in the language. 

If you have qualifications already, you may find it easy to do this. However, the fact is that many people pick up a second language by chance. For instance, you may have grown up speaking the language in your home, or lived abroad and learnt as you travelled. In these cases, there's a simple way to check where you stand. You can take ESL tests online for most European languages and get certification to prove it. Here are the levels you may fall into: 

  • Beginner (A1) 

  • Elementary (A2)

  • Intermediate (B1) 

  • Upper Intermediate (B2) 

  • Advanced (C1) 

  • Mastery (C2) 

When you have certification in any language, you will also have a grade that you can pop on your CV. For example, you may list your skills as "French – Advanced (C1)" in your skills section. The only time that you wouldn't use this system is if you happen to be a native speaker. You may have German as your first language, for example, and have learned English at school. If that is the case, you can list your skill as "German - Native" on your CV. Simple. 

Three tips to keep in mind when listing languages 

Ready to get started and list languages on your CV? Before you put figurative pen to paper, you might want some tips to help you along the way. Here are three things that you need to keep in mind: 

Be honest about your skills 

Are you telling a white lie? When it comes to language skills, you need to be 100% honest about your ability. If you say you can read and write in a specific language, you might well be put to the test. Don't over-exaggerate what you can do here. 

Keep up to date 

Learning a language is a lot like riding a bike. If you don't use it, you lose it – but you can soon regain that skill. When you're proficient in a specific language, make sure you keep those skills up to date and test yourself regularly. 

Show off your skills 

When it comes to formatting your CV, be sure to show off your language skills front and centre if it's part of the job description. Keep in mind that speaking a second language is a huge selling point for a lot of recruiters, so it's often worth mentioning even if not a job requirement.

The takeaway

If you can speak multiple languages, let the world know about it! Your CV is the perfect place to show off this skill set and win more job opportunities. Within this guide, we've taken a look at how you can list them on your CV the right way. Why not revamp it now and add these awesome skills to it? 

Looking for a new job? Check out our CV writing services and get ahead of the crowd today!

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