The ability to fluently communicate in more than one language can be a useful skill as you enter into the US job market. However, many companies often don’t know how to capitalize on their bilingual employees or even realize the benefits of investing in a diverse workforce.
As you start your career search, it’s to your benefit to know how to leverage your bilingual skills to get your interviewer to think outside of the box. Whether or not the position you are applying for requires your language skills, you can still convey the creative ways that your skills can benefit the company’s business goals.
Being bilingual along with the talents you possess that match your dream job’s requirements can put you ahead of the competition. In this article, we’ll provide you with insight into where the candidates that speak more than one language are in demand and how to market your skills to companies that haven’t yet realized the benefits that an on-staff bilingualist can bring.
How to create the need for your bilingual skills
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, a 2017 survey concluded that 66.6 million U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home. This is an underrepresented market for many businesses.
In Oklahoma, a study by the Pew Research shows that native Spanish-speakers make up 10% of the state’s population. Statistical Atlas ranks Oklahoma as the #4 state that is home to native Vietnamese speakers. Your bilingual skills can help an Oklahoma business better serve and represent their community.
Your skills can help a prospective company communicate and potentially do business with non-native English speakers. But more than that, your language skills and your multicultural approach can provide benefits that far exceed a conversation. Here are some ways to help you market your talent on a job interview:
Reach a new market
The statistics above provide insights into an audience that could be using your prospective company’s products or services but don’t engage because of a language barrier. Your skills can help bridge the gap and create a human connection that translation alone cannot.
Provide cultural insights
If you are not native to the US, you bring a whole new level of awareness to the workplace that the company may have had access to otherwise. You can offer insights on cultural etiquette and customs that can help a company better understand a new target audience. You see things from a different perspective because you’ve not had the same American experience as your colleagues. Your feedback and insights can help the company to think differently when tackling difficult problems.
In our article, “Why workplace diversity should matter to you,” we explore how diversity in the workplace makes everyone a better employee. Studies have shown that a diverse workforce is better at sharing ideas and feedback because they aren’t under the assumption that their colleagues think as they do. Your bilingual skills help you to think differently and in turn, inspire others to develop a more creative approach to problems.
On an individual level, the ability to speak more than one language makes you a better employee. Research has shown that bilingual employees excel in areas such as:
- Processing information
- Understanding non-verbal cues
- Analytical thinking
- Attention to detail
- Adapting to change
Which professions are looking for bilingual candidates
Oklahoma City is in no shortage of careers that may require your bilingual skills on a regular basis. A quick internet search for “bilingual jobs OKC” show 100 plus jobs in the metro area looking to fill positions such as dental assistants, sales consultants, customer service representatives, receptionists, tax experts, teaching assistants, and more.
The common industries looking for bilingual talent include:
- Sales and marketing
- Customer service
- Law services
- Human Resources
- State and federal government agencies
- Court advocacy services
Associations such as The American Council on The Teaching of Foreign Languages and The American Translators Association are great career resources to leverage your talent and networking with other bilinguists. They also provide job boards for bilingual opportunities across the US.
How to highlight your bilingual skills on your resume
Your resume is the first impression you give to a prospective employer. A great resume is one that highlights your best skills in a way that can translate into a sound business investment. Here are a few tips to make sure that your bilingual skills stand out.
On your resume add a language section that indicates how fluent you are in the languages you that you can speak, read, and write in. If the job you are applying for is looking for a bilingual candidate, make sure the language section is located towards the top of your resume.
A cover letter can provide you with an excellent opportunity to go into more detail on your language proficiency. Whether you are applying for a position that requires bilingual skills or not, this is a good place to provide an example of how your bilingual skills were helpful in an unexpected situation.
Consider submitting a video for your job application to showcase your fluency in both languages first hand. An introduction video done well can prove that you are a great cultural fit for the company and that your language skills are clear and professional. A short 1-2 minute video provides you with a visual platform to share the value and potential you bring to the job in a memorable and personal way. Sharing your story and making a brief personal connection can sometimes make a huge difference especially if your resume doesn’t match perfectly with the job requirements.
An introductory video doesn’t need to be a big production. All you need is good lighting, a quiet space, and your phone or computer. Talk about why you’d be a good fit for the company and the value that you bring. Don’t forget to mention your bilingual skills and how they can benefit the company. Smile and have fun with it, this is your opportunity to make a great first impression. For more tips on creating a great video, check out this article from The Muse.
Interview with success
If you have the opportunity to interview in person, research the company beforehand to provide examples of how your language skills can be an asset to their business goals. While it may be unprofessional in other countries to boast about yourself and your abilities, in the United States, you are encouraged to do so.
Your interviewer is expecting you to demonstrate how you are the best fit for the job. Be able to explain how your language skills can cross over to many aspects of your job description and enhance the company culture.
If you can successfully connect how your bilingual skills can benefit the company in more ways than one, you’re sure to ace your interview and leave a great impression.
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