If you are based in the UK and speak English as well as the language of your native country, you are in a fantastic position to land one of the many bilingual jobs here in the UK. Bilingual speakers are in exceptionally high demand from a broad range of sectors at the moment and that doesn’t look set to change anytime soon.
Multiple studies have been conducted over the years that show speaking more than one language translates into a big earnings boost. That’s fantastic news for job seekers looking for their first or next bilingual role. But wait, before we start extolling the virtues of bilingual jobs, there’s one question that remains surprisingly difficult to answer…
Are you really bilingual?
The term bilingual means different things to different people. Even the dictionaries can’t agree on a single definition.
From Dictionary.com we have:
‘The ability to speak two languages with the facility of a native speaker’.
While the Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as:
‘A person who is able to use two languages equally well’.
That begs the question: can anyone speak two languages equally well? Language proficiency is measured in terms of an individual’s speaking, reading, writing and listening abilities in each language. If pushed, very few people would say they can do all of these things equally well in a second language as they can in their native tongue.
We all know it’s not uncommon to exaggerate skills on our CVs and language proficiency is no different, but when promoting our language skills – it’s particularly important to be honest.
So what should you put on your CV?
Regardless of your level of proficiency, your language skills are certainly worth shouting about, but they will be tested, whether by a specialist recruiter like Linguistica Recruitment or by the employer themselves. For that reason, it’s essential you describe your proficiency in the right way. You should handle terms like ‘fluency’ or ‘bilingual’ with care and use the following terms as a framework to describe your skills:
• Limited working proficiency – If you are able to handle routine social interactions and use your second language skills in limited work scenarios, this is an accurate way to describe your skills.
• Professional working proficiency – If you can discuss a variety of topics easily and have an almost complete understanding of what others are saying then this is the term you should use.
• Full professional proficiency – If you can participate in all types of conversation easily and only make a few mistakes when speaking and writing the language then you have full professional proficiency.
• Native proficiency – This term describes a native or mother-tongue speaker.
Proving your language skills to prospective employers
Any employer asking for a level of language proficiency as an essential skill will be sure to test you in the interview or as part of their pre-interview screening process. At Linguistica Recruitment, we conduct comprehensive written and spoken language tests to make sure all our candidates meet the required skills.
Looking for your next bilingual role?
If you have second-language proficiency then we could have the role for you. Not all our employers require a native speaker, so take a look at our current vacancies or send us your CV.