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: firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your requirements.