If you were bilingual as a child or you’ve learned a second language as an adult, your valuable skill can make you more satisfied as you progress through life. Not only will you be more cultured overall, but your job prospects and future could be more promising than for those who only speak one language. In fact, individuals who are bilingual on at least an intermediate level could earn more than other job candidates.
Now is the time to start using your special skill to your benefit. To get started, let’s talk about how your second language can give you a leg up on the competition, potential jobs that may best suit your talents, and how to describe your language and proficiency on your resume.
If you know a second language fluently, then you have a leg up on the competition. These days, 67 million Americans speak a non-English language at home. The more proficient you are, the better the chance of communicating with any stakeholder you come in contact with. This makes you more desirable to an employer. When many companies get a customer who doesn’t speak English, they either have to use an interpreter or turn them away. If they have someone like you on the staff who can communicate with everyone, they can retain more customers.
Thanks to the importance of being able to speak to a variety of cultures in this growing melting pot that is America, being bilingual at work can also help you earn more money. According to a report by AOL Finance, those who know more than one language earn 5% to 10% more than their monolingual counterparts. Keep in mind that the difference in pay will likely depend on how often the second language factors into your job. Look for an organization that clearly maps out its compensation structure in its employee handbook so you have an idea of what you’d be making. This could be an important factor in a job search.
Knowing a second language can also help you be a sharper employee all around. Per a study by Dr. Thomas Bak, a lecturer in Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences, children who know a second language often perform better on exams that focus on attention and concentration skills. Don’t worry — you can still improve your brain power if you’re learning a language as an adult as well. This advanced development of your cognitive thinking will positively influence many factors of your work life, including your ability to combat stress and improve your memory so you can more easily remember complex tasks.
Now that you know that you are in a good place as a bilingual candidate, you are probably wondering what types of jobs will make the most out of your special talent. If you’re interested in the teaching field, then this is a great place to be able to connect with children from all backgrounds and give them the education they deserve. You could also apply to be a private tutor and market your services specifically to those who don’t speak English as their primary language.
With so many people around the world speaking different languages, a bilingual individual can really make an impact on people’s lives, especially in the medical field. Along with professionalism and an understanding of medicine, you will also need effective communication skills to be successful. The ability to actively speak to patients in a caring and informative way can help you go a long way as a nurse or doctor. And if the patient doesn’t speak English, you can be the person who helps them understand the steps of their recovery plan, what medications to take, and more.
The world of business can also be vastly improved by professionals with experience in a second language. As companies grow, they move out to international markets, and to get business done with as little confusion as possible, they need a translator who can not only understand what the other party is saying but also catch on to the little nonverbal cues that often tell us so much more than words can convey. If you prefer a career in business or finance, then go to the jobs that need bilingual support the most, and get a job as a financial advisor, investment banker, or accountant.
Now that you understand the true significance of knowing a second language, you want to use it to stand out to potential employers. The first step is to understand the fluency with which you speak your other language. You can get an official ranking by taking a proficiency exam through the Interagency Language Roundtable, where you’re tested on your ability to speak, write, and translate the second language. The committee will then assign you a ranking from one to five. If you cannot take the test, you can also self-assign descriptors such as intermediate, proficient, or fluent.
Next, you need to decide where on your resume you will list your language skills. Many people put it in the education or special skills section if they feel they will only need to be actively bilingual on a rare basis. However, if you are going for a job as a translator or an international business consultant, then you will want to add these skills in a separate special languages section. List the language and then your efficiency (Spanish — Fluent).
If the new job is dependent on being bilingual, then you will want to pull out all the stops to prove that you are the best for the role. Think about the people in your life who know you in the context of a second-language speaker, such as a language teacher or a previous employer that flourished due to your special skill. Have them focus on how your second language helped the company succeed. If you have data regarding how being bilingual improved the company by growing sales or the client base, add that on your resume as well. For example, “Expanded client base by 15% by selling to the Spanish market.”
As you can see, the amazing ability to speak more than one language can be a major boost to your life and career. If you are just beginning to learn a new language, don’t give up. The result is well worth it.