Bilingualism in the Career Market
In today’s competitive employment market any additional skill which you can add to your CV gives you a clear advantage. Globalisation has led to a high demand for employees who are bilingual and this will only increase in the years ahead. Therefore, when you are considering your options during your time at university it is important to consider whether you could improve your fluency in a second, or even a third, language.
Why is Bilingualism Such a Career Advantage?
Many businesses are now international and have offices in multiple countries. Even if they aren’t based abroad, they often buy and/or sell overseas and this leads to a demand for bilingual employees.
One country which has seen a huge rise in overseas trade is China. Fluency in simplified or traditional Chinese will be a big advantage whatever type of employment you are seeking. One way to increase your fluency could be to work in China during an ‘industry year’ if you are studying on a ‘sandwich course’. There are now numerous links between UK and Chinese universities and it is becoming much easier to acquire a visa to work in China, particularly if you are part of an international student framework.
If you want to get a taste for life in China prior to transferring there for a year, take an organised tour, such as those offered by Asian Horizons. Not only will this help you to learn about the country and experience a new culture, but it is also a valuable addition to your CV. Prospective employers want to know that you are proactive in your approach and time abroad shows you will be confident to travel for business if the need arises.
Demonstrating Your Language Skills
Being able to speak a second or even a third language is an advantage in itself. However, you also need to demonstrate that you are comfortable using your language skills in a wide range of situations.
The job market is a competitive one and therefore employers are able to look for prospective employees who take their skills and actually put them into practice. As BergHind Joseph outlines, employee engagement is hugely important to the success of a company and thus employers are looking for people who will be committed to the values and goals of their business.
What does this mean for you on a practical level? If you are using your bilingualism as a key factor in your application to a company, ensure you have researched their overseas links before you head to the interview. Consider ways that your skill set will be of value in the job you are applying for and don’t be afraid to provide examples of how you use your second language in your daily life and in your travels.
Furthermore, if there is someone in the interview who speaks your second language, don’t be afraid to fall into conversation with them. The fact that you are easily and naturally speaking the language will demonstrate a great deal more than anything on paper ever could.
Express the Strengths of Bilingualism
During the application or interview process for a new job it can also be valuable to express some of the other strengths of bilingualism that you will be bringing to the role.
Students who speak more than one language often score better in tests, in a range of subjects, and you can argue that speaking a second language makes you smarter. Bilingualism has also been demonstrated to improve brain function in a variety of ways including: increased memory, better multi-tasking ability, enhanced decision-making skills, superior levels of perception and an improved level of understanding of your native language.
With so many advantages to speaking a second language it is something you should actively pursue if you want to get ahead in the employment market. Even if you are not at a level where you are completely fluent in a second language, any knowledge is at least helpful. Why not take the opportunity whilst you are at college to improve your language skills by taking extra lessons, by travelling to the country concerned or even by conversing with other international students. Not only will this be a great addition to your CV but you will also find it widens your horizons.