According to Preply, an online platform for connecting language teachers with students, the top three foreign languages in demand in job postings are:
2. Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin); and
3. French (including French Canadian).
If you’re fluent in a foreign language (or at least proficient enough to do business), showcasing that skill during your job search can broaden your prospect pool. Even if you’re not aiming for a job where a second language is required, achieving a level of expertise, like fluency in another language, is usually impressive. It speaks to your ability to master a subject and can make you a more memorable candidate. If the person reading your resume or interviewing you shares the same skill, that’s a way to build rapport.
Yet too many job seekers bury particular skills like second languages (or knowledge of computer systems, familiarity with search databases or other technical skills) that could catch employers’ attention and make move your application to the interview stage. Here are four ways to make sure you’re showcasing your unique skills, so employers take them into account:
1 – Highlight competence in all of your marketing and appointments
Putting special skills, such as language proficiency, in the Skills section of your resume is only the minimum. You can also include it in your resume at the very top, as recruiters scan resumes in seconds. Also, include special skills in your LinkedIn summary (About section), cover letter, and interview responses. Even if skill is not the focus of your search, particular expertise helps strengthen your candidacy.
2 – Clearly describe your skill level
Sometimes I see a resume where the job seeker indicates how many courses they have taken in the language, how many years of study, or a course or certification from a specific association. Do not assume that the reader/interviewer will be familiar with this course or understand how well you speak based on your education. People learn at different speeds, so just listing your classes or class hours doesn’t mean anything. Instead, put in an easily understandable level – fluent, proficient, conversational, or basic.
3 — Show, don’t just say
If you really want to show how well you know something (whether it’s a foreign language, computer system, or other technical skill), include how you used it in your everyday experience . Giving a concrete example of how you’ve integrated a skill into your job shows the potential employer your level of ability, rather than just telling or promising that, theoretically, you could do something. For example, if you used your second language to respond to requests from customers in that region or to translate documents or conduct research, you give a clear idea of your ability in that skill.
4 – Be ready with concrete examples
If you say you’re fluent in another language, or are fluent enough to use it in the work environment, be ready to interview in that language right away. I once worked for a media company that needed a bilingual Spanish/English editorial assistant, and the first-round interview switched between the two languages. If you say you’re proficient in a specific coding language or software, be prepared to show lines of code or take a proficiency test. Before showcasing a particular skill and incorporating it into your brand candidate, consider how you will provide on-site proof. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, you probably don’t have a high enough skill level in the skill to highlight it.
Ask your friends to review your job search materials and identify your special skills
If you’ve been writing and writing your resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letters for a while now, you might not notice how they read to a stranger. You may think your special skills are front and center, but they’re buried or unclear. Get a friend or two to look at your gear with fresh eyes to make sure you’re giving your best qualities their due.