Adding a second language to your list of job skills can provide many benefits and open the door to a world of new opportunities that simply do not exist for the monoglots among us.
Language skills can be of great benefit across many areas of life, from social connections to making traveling a more profound experience.
In today’s competitive job market, having language skills is no longer a bonus, it is now something employers are starting to demand as their markets expand into new territories.
Which language would benefit you most to help develop your career?
The answer to this question does of course depend on many factors, your career goals, the industry you wish to work in, and of course the languages you may already speak.
Spanish: not as foreign as you think!
For anyone from the United States of America, there is one clear choice for a productive second language: Spanish!
The numbers to support that are unequivocal.
A survey for The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) titled Making Languages Our Business: Addressing Foreign Language Demand Among U.S. Employers, listed the following languages as the “most in-demand foreign languages reported by American employers”:
Before even looking to Spanish-speaking foreign markets let’s consider the U.S. Hispanic population, which according to the 2018 figures is around 60 Million, or in other words a staggering 18% of the entire national population.
That’s more than either Spain or Colombia!
The U.S. Hispanic population as a market has a more than the significant purchasing power of 1.7 Trillion USD, and per capita, U.S. Hispanics have a higher income than any of the much-lauded BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China).
So having the skills to be able to market to and provide effective customer service to that marketplace is vital.
Recent estimates by Spain’s Cervantes Institute indicate that by 2060 Hispanics will make up nearer to 30% of the national population.
The U.S. already has the second-highest population of Spanish speakers in the world, behind Mexico.
Further afield, the strength is shown in Latin American economies and the potential customer base that U.S. companies could tap into has bolstered the increasing demand for employees with Spanish language skills in their professional armory.
Studies show a shortfall in applicants with the required language skills that they are now seeking, and the demand is projected to continue to increase.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected that demand for “Translators and Interpreters” will increase by 18% by 2026. A report issues by the New American Economy titles The Growing Importance of Foreign Language Skills in the U.S. Job Market also reflects a growing demand.
From 2010 to 2015 job advertisements aimed at bilingual workers more than doubled. While posts seeking bilingual employees increased by over 15% during that time.
Sectors that have shown the highest demand for Spanish language skills include sales, marketing, banking, manufacturing, agriculture, and healthcare. Specific executive positions of note include financial managers, editors, and industrial engineers.
In days gone by, having a degree related to your chosen field would have stood you in good stead when applying for a job.
Today things are different. Competition for jobs is fierce and recruiters and human resources departments are putting applicants under ever-increasing scrutiny.
Therefore, knowing the true value that a second or third language can bring to a company is vital to boost your eligibility.
Here’s how having Spanish proficiency on your résumé can set you apart and help give your career a boost.
If your job requires you to be in contact with bilinguals or Spanish speakers, either internally or externally, then being fluent in Spanish can help break down language barriers, making your work life less stressful and more natural and efficient.
As more effective communication is attainable, the relationships you have with Spanish speaking coworkers and clients will improve, and we all know that in business, building relationships is the key.
If you are in sales then you know Spanish will be vital in bringing a whole new dimension to your customer service, making it much more market-specific.
If your chosen method for learning Spanish is immersive and incorporates a certain degree of insight into the culture of Spanish speakers around the world, then you will be more attuned to their beliefs, history, and outlook on the world.
This sensibility to be able to explore another culture through its mother tongue is a real virtue that language learning can bring to any organization.
When a promotion opportunity comes up in a company and Human Resources are on the lookout for a suitable staff member, they will look for key skills, experience, and versatility.
If you have a second language and have demonstrated your proficiency at work and your language skills have been beneficial to the company, your eligibility for the vacancy will improve.
Learning a second language shows a willingness to invest in yourself and to push beyond your comfort zone to improve your talents.
Yes, to employers the language skills are a tool they seek, but the fact that you have made the commitment to learn a language also shows additional qualities which they find attractive, such as responsibility, patience, discipline, and perseverance.
In addition, you could actually earn more money, from 5% to 20% per hour more than the base rate.
Of course, this depends on factors such as the scarcity of the language skills in the local market, the job level, and the importance of the language to the role, amongst others, but it gives you an idea.
Appeal to multinational companies
As companies widen their operational radius and look to distribute their products and services to an increasingly diverse market, applicants with language skills and a broader viewpoint on the world are in demand.
However, don’t assume that having a second language as a bullet point on your résumé will be enough to grab their attention.
Your cover letter and communications to any suitor need to showcase yourself as an ambitious global employee who is up to the challenge that is posed by venturing into foreign markets.
You never know, it might land you a position as a regional director down the line!
Aside from the aforementioned benefits, various studies on bilingualism have shown that the process of language learning and the day to day use of a second language can have some rather positive side effects where your grey matter is concerned.
Cognitive research has indicated that bilinguals are more creative, more effective multitaskers, have better visual-spatial skills, improved memory, and are better at problem-solving than their unilingual peers.
Whether you are already proficient in a second, third or even fourth language, or if you are in the process of learning a language, going forward be sure to put your language ability to work in every job or project you can.
This will serve to highlight the value you are bringing to the company and will help maximize the benefits it can bring to your career development.
Make learning Spanish a priority today and take your career to the next level. Get the ball rolling and sign up for our FREE Spanish Survival Crash Course. Every day for six days, we’ll send learning guides and audio courses to your inbox, totally FREE!
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