Key Takeaways: Language Skills On Resumes
When deciding to include language skills on your resume, the most important thing to consider is relevance.
Language skills can have a major influence on the recruiter calling you for an interview, but the same cannot be said when language skills arent relevant to your position.
Another aspect to keep in mind is your level of language skill. Recruiters will want to know to what degree youre skilled in languages you mention.
Any thoughts or remarks on resume language skills? What are the most distinguishable ways youre talking about language skills on your resume? Let us know in the comments below!
Jobs That Require Foreign Language Skills
There is a wide range of employers who list foreign language qualifications for consideration on their job listings. For some positions, candidates are expected to provide a standardized measure of their level of proficiency in a foreign language on their resume.
Depending upon your industry, you may be asked to use a specific proficiency framework/test to self-assess and quantify your command of a foreign language.
Keep The Specific Role In Mind
How central it is to the job you are applying for should determine its placement on your resume. Also, dont forget a resume is a marketing tool. You are marketing your professional brand. So a resume should be written to target a specific role. If multilingual fluency is key to the job, lead with it. If its not, put this skill towards the end.
Steven Brown, DP Electric Inc
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What You Should And Shouldnt List
Be prepared to answer any questions about the languages you list on your resume.
You also dont want to sell yourself short because you dont feel like youve mastered a language. The fact is that no one masters a programming language. No matter what level of experience you have with a language, there will always be new problems and challenges that will tax your skill and thinking.
You can expect that any language you list on your resume is fair game for an interviewer or hiring managers to ask you questions about. If you list Java on a resume, be prepared to answer some technical questions about the language. This is true even if youre not applying to a position writing Java code. If your answer to something based on your resume doesnt ring true, this could be a potential red flag to the interviewer. So make sure you can answer questions appropriately for anything you list on your resume.
Approximate Your Language Skill Level With An Adjective
In most cases, the following scale is an acceptable method for describing your general language skill level, and will be understood by any employer.
Scale for Resume Language Skills
Basic: suggests that you understand basic words and phrases, but are unable to hold a conversation.
Intermediate: suggests you can hold a basic conversation in the language, but have limited vocabulary, a low understanding of grammar rules, and may not be able to read.
Conversational: suggests that you can hold full conversations in this language but not at a fluent level. You may struggle to find the right words and keep up with native speakers. Additionally, you may not be fully literate.
Proficient: suggests you have a high level of comfort with the language, but not to the same level that fluent or native speakers would. Proficient speakers have a larger vocabulary and more developed skills than conversational speakers.
Fluent: suggests youre highly comfortable speaking, writing, or reading in this language and that you can hold conversations to the same level as a native speaker.
Native: indicates that this is your mother tongue, and that youre fully comfortable speaking, reading, and writing in this language.how to list language skills on resume
The only time you shouldnt use this scale is if youre applying for a role where a high level of detail about your language skills is required. In this situation, you should use a more specific, official scale.
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Where To Put Language Skills On A Resume
A well-written resume should be tailored for each job application. The skills should match the job description, and each skill should be given prominence according to how important it is for the position. Resume language skills are no different.
With this in mind, you need to choose a place for putting languages on a resume. The most common choice is to feature them in your skills section. If you only speak one or two languages, and it isnt directly important to the job, this is the most logical choice.
Unless you are applying for a job in IT, you can also put your computer skills in the same section under a general core competencies heading.
Another option, if you have a language qualification, is to list it under your education section.
If youre applying for a job for which language skills are highly important, such as a translator or hospitality worker, you should choose a resume format which highlights them.
You should have a specific languages section which gives more detailed information on your ability. It could be a subsection of your skills, or a separate section, whichever fits better.
You can also mention it in your personal details section if you have one, and if its a must-have skill for the vacancy, you can plug it in your resume objective.
You should also include a separate languages section if you speak enough languages to warrant doing so.
Within The Realm Of Special Abilities Or Personal Details
As previously stated, you can incorporate language training and experience into your resumes special skills or personal details section.
This is best when speaking the language is not the primary focus of the position, but it may still give you an advantage over other candidates.
Give a detailed view of your language skills through activities or postpositions in a special skills area.
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Globally Understood Descriptions Of Language Proficiency
The following terms are commonly used in English job applications to describe language proficiency, starting with the highest level of proficiency. These terms are understood in all English-speaking countries across the world:
|Commonly used descriptions for language proficiency:|
|excellent command / highly proficient in spoken and written English|
|very good command|
|good command / good working knowledge|
|basic communication skills / working knowledge|
Why Resume Language Skill Is Important
No business will survive without management, and if you dont communicate with your clients and co-workers. The people who are recruiting, look for these skills because it gives an overview of how you are conveying information to many people. Maintaining your language skills gives you the building blocks to communicate with others.
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Describe Your Skills With An Accepted Proficiency Standard
What does basic Portugese skills actually mean? Something slightly different to everyone, thats what! It could describe a few weeks of Duolingo, a few terms of classroom practice, or the ability to have simple conversations with ease. One of the biggest problems in writing language skills on your resume is this unfortunate room for miscommunication. The best advice to ensure realistic expectations is to not just list languages you know somewhat, but to measure your language skills with an accepted standard of proficiency. Here are a few to choose from:
Try to write your language proficiency in the framework which your employer uses already, if you can find it. If you are applying to a university, you might find this information on their language departments website. Otherwise, it is fine to choose any relevant framework CEFR for a European company and ILR or ACTFL for an American one or even the one that your existing language qualifications were measured by. Just remember to use the same standard to describe your language skills throughout your CV.
Not sure how to translate your existing language skills between the CEFR and the ACTFL? Heres a handy comparison chart.
Honesty: Still The Best Policy
The importance of being honest when describing your language proficiency cannot be stressed enough. Its a skill that cannot be faked, and you will get caught if you exaggerate your proficiency level. Getting caught in a lie would almost certainly hurt your prospects of getting the job, so just be honest.
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Start With The Language Youre Most Proficient At
I think languages are always a value-add to an employer. If you speak multiple languages, I would recommend making a language section on your resume. If you dont have space, add it under skills or education. Always start with the language youre most proficient at and make sure you indicate your level of fluency . If you are a beginner, its probably not relevant to your resume.
Sydney Stern Miller, Tech Talent South
Foreign Language Teaching Jobs
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were approximately 27,240 foreign language teachers in the American workforce in 2017. Colleges and universities, junior colleges, and local governments are the leading employers of foreign language teachers.
Required proficiency framework: TheAmerican Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages has created a series of guidelines used to evaluate ones functional language ability. This scale, commonly used both by teachers and employers to assess foreign language competency, analyzes proficiency in speaking, writing, listening, and reading.
Heres an example:
- Foreign Languages: English Spanish
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Do An Administered Or Self
Depending on your level of skill and what the job requirements are, you should have some kind of objective gauge of your skill level.
The American Council on the Teaching for Foreign Languages offers proctored exams resulting in a recognized certification. This test is used by Fortune 500 companies and government agencies, so whatever certification you get will be widely recognized. This test and certification doesnt come cheap, however.
If resources are an issue, you can do a self-assessment through the Interagency Language Roundtable , a service set up among U.S. federal government agencies to keep abreast of the progress and implementation of techniques and technology for language learning, language use, language testing and other language related activities.
The site hosts three test forms, one for spoken proficiency, reading proficiency and listening/comprehension proficiency:
This will let you list your language skill level with a precision many other candidates probably wont bother to the tests generate standardized designations 0-5 with a + added if youre in between skill level tiers.
So What Are They Looking For
What are employers looking for in a developer?
Whats important is that you convey the information clearly. Hiring personnel need to see the names of languages theyre looking for on your resume. Remember: they may not have the same programming background you do. Unfortunately, especially if theyre a very large company, they may be using keyword matching to sort through large piles of resumes. This means they need to see the name of the language theyre looking for listed in your resume. If theyre looking for someone to program in R, they are looking for an R programming resume, so make sure its in your list of languages. You know that Java and C++ are both object-oriented languages, but youll be hard-pressed to find a job posting for an Object-oriented programmer. Put down the actual language names.
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How To Showcase Your Second
July 15, 2021 by Cori Garcia
In SkillsetGroups home territory, the U.S. Southwest, bilingual Spanish speakers are ubiquitous. The greater LA area is also host to many who speak Vietnamese, Chinese and other Asian languages, as well as smaller enclaves that use a diverse array of tongues from Hmong Daw to Palestinian Arabic.
The following is from a report by the legal advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Los Angeles:
- Nearly one in three LA residents , were born outside the United States
- A majority of Los Angeles County residents speak a language other than English at home:
- 38% or 3.3 million speak Spanish
- 11% or 925,000 speak an Asian or Pacific Islander language.
Perhaps its the routine exposure to multiple languages every day that makes some job candidates completely omit their second language skills from their resumes. Maybe using multiple languages is so common for them, they dont even consider it a special skill employers might like in a candidate.
But, in case you havent figured it out from the title of this piece, you should always list your foreign language skills on your resume.
Even if a particular position youre applying for doesnt list a second language in its requirements, youre leaving a potentially huge advantage out of your stated skillset. Especially in a geographic area that is home to a large multilingual population, your Farsi, Japanese or Hebrew skills might be the edge the hiring manager needs to hire you over another candidate.
If The Open Position Is Competitive
Imagine the following scenario:
Both Tom and Emma are applying for the position of a Senior Marketing Manager at Etsy.
Theyve got the same amount of experience, and their skill set is fairly similar, too.
However, Emma mentioned that shes fluent in French & German on her resume, while Tom didnt.
Emmas value proposition for the company increases exponentially, as there will be a lot of practical uses for her language skills.
Even though Toms language proficiency might be on par with Emma, he never bothered to show that thus, his chances to get a callback get slimmer.
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Using Infographic And Visual Representations
It can be very helpful to use an Infographic representation for your language abilities, especially when the overall design of the resume following the same act.
How Many Points to Represent Language Proficiency?
When using Infographic, that can be represented by points like the picture shows, the number of points are decided upon the classification that you chose before. If it was 4 levels then you can use 4 points or its multiples for infographic representation.
Dont Exaggerate Your Speaking Abilities
A final golden rule of writing your language skills on your resume: do not claim more advanced skills than you have. Sure, everyone exaggerates a little on job applications, but there is very little wiggle room when describing your language levels! Even if the job does not specifically require candidates to have a second language, its really easy for this lie to get found out.
Best case scenario? Youll be standing at the watercooler one day, when someone mentions Oh HR told me youre fluent in Cantonese, thats wonderful, so am I! ? You have claimed to be an advanced speaker, but can only reply in basic phrases. Even if your colleagues are kind about it, the lie will undermine your credibility and make them doubt your other achievements.
Of course, not everyone exaggerates their language skills on purpose. If youre learning a foreign language for the first time, it can be easy to overestimate your ability. Book a session with a language tutor on Preply and they can give you a far more objective opinion on your current knowledge base.
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Format Your Languages Section
The format of your language section will depend on the format of the rest of your resume and your industry. This section needs to be cohesive with the other sections on your resume and can be highlighted or bolded in a variety of ways to make it stand out if it is critical for the position. If you add your languages to the skills section, use another bullet or line in that section.
When listing multiple languages, start with the language you are most proficient in and list them in descending order of proficiency. You can format your language skills into an infographic or as a separate box-section if it will be cohesive with your resume format.
The Most Requested Languages On Resumes
The level of demand for job candidates with specific foreign language skills depends on a few factors, including the industry and the geographical location of employers. According to the Not Lost in Translation study by New American Economy , the five most in-demand foreign languages requested by U.S. employers are Spanish, Chinese, French, Arabic, and Korean.
Oftentimes, the second language requested depends upon the industry. Spanish fluency is frequently sought for customer service roles in the financial services and auto parts sectors. The hospitality and luxury retail industries have a high demand for Chinese speakers. French and Arabic, on the other hand, are desirable languages for job candidates seeking work with international humanitarian aid associations. Korean speakers, meanwhile, are targeted by the pharmaceutical, education, telecommunications, and banking industries.
Demand for employees with foreign language competencies also varies from state to state. The states with especially large immigrant populationsCalifornia, Texas, Florida, and New Yorknaturally have the most job postings for bilingual applicants. Other states with a high demand for second language fluency are Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oregon.
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