Got Language Skills? Flaunt Them During Your Job Search

Language skills

Do you speak Arabic? Spanish? Mandarin Chinese? If you answered na-am, or hao, you may be able to edge out some of the competition in your next job search.

“In an increasingly competitive international economy, a workforce with more market-relevant foreign language skills is a strategic economic asset for the United States,” according to a U.S. Council on Foreign Relations memorandum. Likewise, a British Council report shows that Spanish, Arabic, French, Mandarin Chinese and German are the most beneficial languages for professionals in working with some of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

Across industries, whether you’re dealing with clients or mainly colleagues, bilingual or tri-lingual proficiency in demand.

Here's a brief introduction to what’s driving the demand for foreign language fluency, and how you can make your language skills stand out as an accounting and finance professional.

Why Language Skills Are in Demand

Globalization: With the rapid spread of technology, new doors are opening to businesses at home and abroad. As this transformation occurs, the need for finance and accounting professionals who can speak the languages of the countries with which they do business is growing. In addition to language fluency, highlighting multi-cultural competence and understanding may make your resume stand out from the crowd of applicants.

Diversity: The United States, as a nation of immigrants, is known for its blending of cultures. Companies in states abutting Canada and Mexico, in particular, may partner with companies that employ native French or Spanish speakers. It’s difficult enough to convey complex data for English-speaking coworkers, but imagine trying to do it for clients who aren’t fluent in your native tongue. Your language skills could lend a hand here.

Make Your Language Skills Stand Out in a Job Search

Give your language skills their due on your resumeYou’ll want to include a list of all the languages you speak (aside from English, of course). Additionally, you should note your level of proficiency. Most employers will seek candidates with intermediate, professional or fluent levels, but it never hurts to include basic language skills. If you know an organization does business with or in another country, briefly mention your language skills in your cover letter, too.

Mention it in your interviewIn your research of an organization, as you prepare your application, resume and cover letter, you may learn the company does a lot of business in Germany. Let your interviewer know about your German fluency, even if it wasn’t a requirement listed on the job posting.

Update your LinkedIn profileMany employers and recruiters will scan LinkedIn for accounting and finance talent, so be sure your profile is up-to-date. LinkedIn has fields for you to state your proficiency in various languages.

The competition for finance and accounting jobs is stiff, so you need to do everything you can to stand out. Make certain employers know about your language skills, and you could land a satisfying role that lets you flex those linguistic muscles.  

How have your foreign language skills helped you in a job search? Share your experiences in the comments below.