In today’s globalized and interconnected world, being bilingual or multilingual is a major competitive advantage in the job market. Knowing more than one language is a valuable skill in all kinds of job roles. To give yourself an edge over other candidates for the position, it’s important to highlight your skills in the right way.
If you are bilingual or multilingual, that should definitely appear on your resume. Speaking and communicating in more than one language is a valuable skill that can set you apart from the competition. Even if you did not use your language skills as a formal part of your job description in your previous jobs, it is still worth mentioning. Multilingual communication makes you a more unique and interesting candidate, and it speaks to your sense of cultural awareness, which is crucial in a diverse and multicultural marketplace. Being multilingual can open up other opportunities for you within an organization, so you should be sure to include it in your application.
So, where does your bilingual skill set belong on a resume? The answer to this question depends on who you are, your work experience, and the position to which you are applying. Does the job posting state that bilingual abilities are required or preferred? If so, your language skills should appear prominently on your resume. If the job does not mention bilingual requirements, you can still set yourself apart by listing the languages you speak in your skills section or work experience. Just like any other aspect of your resume, the placement and description of your bilingual abilities should be tailored to your specific goals.
Speaking, writing, and reading a foreign language is certainly a skill, so you may decide to list it in the skills section of your resume. A skills section is an easily scannable portion of your resume that gives potential employers a quick look at the tools in your toolbox. If you speak more than two languages and/or multilingual capabilities are an important part of your job (such as for translators, interpreters, multicultural counselors or social workers, or those working for international companies), you might consider creating a “Languages” section on your resume. In this section, you can list the languages you speak and designate your level of proficiency for each. For example, you might list
Take care to be honest about your level of proficiency with any languages you decide to list on your resume. Some positions may require you to be able to write effectively in another language, while for others, conversational verbal proficiency may be enough. If you haven’t studied Spanish since the tenth grade and can’t speak it with confidence, it’s probably best to leave it off altogether.
If you are seeking a position that utilizes your language skills as a core part of the job role, then it makes sense to include your multilingual capabilities in your objective or summary. If the job description states that a certain language fluency is required or preferred, your language skills should appear at the top of your resume. Read on for examples of effective resume objectives highlighting bilingual skills.
Below are three examples of how you can include your multilingual abilities in your resume objective.
I am an experienced paralegal seeking to utilize my fluency in Spanish to increase access to the justice system among non-English speaking communities
I am an occupational therapist with fifteen years of experience working with children; I provide guidance and consultation to families in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language.
*I am a results-driven technology professional with international experience in Japan and the United States, leveraging fluency in Japanese and working proficiency in Italian to collaborate with multicultural teams. *
If you went to school abroad in a non-English speaking country, or you studied foreign language as part of your degree, you may wish to list your language proficiency under the education section. Did you major in business with a minor in an additional language? Use this to tell a story about your career goals. If your educational background is not specifically language-focused, then you should list your language skills elsewhere.
If your past job experience included any interpreting, translating, or multilingual communication, you may want to include your language skills in the work experience section of your resume. This is especially true if the job you are applying for has a multilingual or multicultural component to the description. Be specific about how your language skills came into play during your employment. If the job you are applying for has a multilingual component, describe what positive outcomes you were able to achieve because of your language skills.
Approximately 42 million people in the United States speak Spanish as their native language. Given the significant number of Spanish-speakers in the U.S., the ability to communicate in Spanish is a valuable skill in virtually any job. It is especially important if you work in a health and human services role like nursing, social work, healthcare, therapy, counselling, or education. From sales to law to customer service, fluency or proficiency in Spanish is a valuable skill that should appear on your resume.