How to use your Language Skills to Boost your Career

If you’ve taken the time to learn another language, or have been lucky enough to have grown up abroad, you have an incredibly valuable asset that could really boost your career. Foreign language speakers are a rare breed in the British job market, so this standout skill could be just what you need to make your job application shine.

The dearth of foreign language speakers in the UK has prompted almost half of employers to turn to the international jobs market to find the skills they need. According to the latest National Skills Survey, 27 percent of vacancies in administrative and clerical roles went unfilled due to a shortage of foreign language skills.

Today, languages are a real differentiator in a diverse range of industry sectors, which gives them incredible potential to boost your career. Here’s how you can use your bilingualism to maximise your employability in the UK jobs market.

1. Combine your language skills with a core competency

If you’re not sure what subject to study at university, think about combining your language competency with a specific subject. A straight language degree will not necessarily make you as employable as a combination degree such as French and Economics or German and International Business. Although languages are extremely important for modern businesses, most will look for a language competency as part of a wider skills base. Pure language degrees tend to be seen as less valuable by employers, unless of course you want to become a professional translator or linguist.

2. Really sell your experience studying or working abroad

If you’ve spent time studying or working abroad while furthering your language skills, the cultural awareness and maturity this will have taught you is something you really need to sell on your CV. The ability to speak a foreign language in a professional environment gives an employer great insight into just how valuable you could become.

3. Don’t exaggerate your language skills

If there’s one thing employers value above all else, it’s honesty. Although it might be tempting to exaggerate your language skills on your CV, nothing will damage your chances of landing the job more. If you haven’t spoken the language for a couple of years and your skills need a little polishing, make sure you say so.

You should also be aware a second language is fluency is not always necessary. If you can demonstrate you have the fundamental skills, but need a little practice and support, the employer may well be willing to invest in you. And, above all else, they’ll be impressed by your honesty.

4. Cast a wide net in your language job search

Specialist language job recruiters like Linguistica Recruitment are an excellent place to start your language job search, but don’t limit yourself to just one or two job sources. The internet makes it easy to search far and wide for your language job in the UK. Rather than searching for the particular subjects you have studied, take a look at the skills demanded by businesses and apply for roles where there’s a crossover between the skills businesses need and the subjects you have studied. Sending speculative applications to employers that you’d like to work for can also be a surprisingly effective approach.

5. Search for companies with an international outlook

There are certain industries where language skills are in more demand than others. UK based retail companies for example, are unlikely to value language skills as much as an international market research firm. Companies such as Mintel, Euromonitor and WPP Group are just three examples of internationally orientated companies that need foreign language speakers for a number of positions.

How can we help?

As a specialist language recruiter, we can provide the personalised service you need to find a foreign language job in the UK. Take a look at our current vacancies and apply online. Alternatively, please call 02392 987 765 or email: to discuss your requirements.

Studying a Language at University is the Way to Get Ahead

The massive hike in tuition fees has put British universities under more pressure to add value to the education they provide by enhancing the employment prospects of their students. Learning a second language is a sure fire way to get ahead in the competitive employment market. Most universities have a language centre packed with resources, making this the perfect opportunity to enhance your second language capabilities.

Last year there were 39 applicants for every graduate job. This year top graduate vacancies are at a premium, and with 2:1 degrees being handed out like they’re going out of fashion, it’s hardly surprising so many graduates are throwing themselves into a world of voluntary work and internships to make their application stand out.

But given the current language skills gap, which is causing UK business to miss out on billions of pounds worth of international trade, learning an international language could be the best way to make your graduate job hunt easier and more successful.

What can universities do?

There are plenty of undergraduates studying language courses at university, but these are not the only type of language learners British businesses are interested in. Most in demand are bilingual speakers with core skills in marketing, economics or finance who can also speak a second language on the side.

The trouble is that only 38 percent of Brits speak a foreign language, compared to 56 percent of Europeans. This current dearth of polyglots provides a real opportunity for undergraduates who are willing to go the extra mile and brush up on their language skills in their spare time.

There has also been an increase in the number of universities that are willing to offer optional foreign language modules as part of their main degree. Given the flexible schedules many students enjoy and the abundance of free time, this could be a great way for ambitious students to get a head start on their rivals.

It’s not all about fluency

It’s a common misconception that only fluent foreign language speakers are in demand from UK businesses, but that is not always the case. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has found that 74 percent of employers are looking for applicants with conversational ability rather than fluency.

The truth is that you do not need to be word perfect to give yourself a distinct advantage in the competitive graduate recruitment market. Many employers believe conversational skills can still help to “break the ice, deepen cultural understanding, and open business access to new markets.”

Increasingly, multinational companies are seeing language skills as an added extra when considering applications, with many awarding bonus points to applicants with foreign language skills to their name.

Of course, learning a new language at degree level is hard work, particularly alongside your existing commitments. There are no shortcuts when learning a new language – you get out exactly what you put in, so if you don’t do the drills or put in the practice you simply won’t progress.

However, stick with it and the dedication is likely to impress prospective employers. Employers recognise it takes a lot of discipline to learn a new language, which is a highly valued quality in the workplace.

How can we help?

If you’re a graduate or a prospective employee looking for a second language job on the South Coast, we can help. We work with some of the best employers in the area to bring you exclusive, rewarding and well-paid bilingual jobs. Take a look at our latest multilingual vacancies today and upload your CV.