I read an article recently that concerned the marketability of knowing a second language and the benefits that knowledge can bring to a candidate’s job search. The article noted that recruiters are hot on the trails of executives and middle managers who not only can speak Spanish but are familiar with the Hispanic culture and can, therefore, provide guidance to companies in dealing with this growing market segment.
Most of the time, when I see a resume of someone who is bilingual, they insert that piece of information at the very end of the resume – the most unread section of the entire document. If you have the benefit of speaking a second or even a third language, you should always mention that in the summary because it is an extremely marketable piece of information. Even if the job itself does not require you to use a language other than English, the knowledge you may have of the other language and its associated culture could be quite valuable to the company.
Be careful what you claim, however. If you claim fluency in Spanish but you really only know enough to get you around Tijuana in a taxi, you might find yourself in a sticky situation in an interview. The interviewer might be fluent in the language you claim and test out your knowledge of the language during the interview. If you only know how to ask to be taken to the horse track or ask for a beer, it would not only be embarrassing but sink your candidacy.
In recent years, when we think of using a second language in a job, we tend to think of call center rep who handles Spanish-only calls or perhaps social workers who work with those needing government services. Such an assumption is quite inaccurate. Higher salaried individuals with dual language capabilities are required for international business, market development, and global expansion. Make sure you highlight your bilingualism in your resume, even if you are an executive. It might very well be the one thing that tips the scale in your favor.