7 ways a second language can boost your career

7 ways a second language can boost your career

by | Mar 19, 2017 | Career change, career goals, career planning

Do you know a second language or are thinking of learning one? Good news! Your bilingual skills can help you have an edge on your career too! With the internet, so many companies are able to expand globally. That means the need for people who speak more than one language are needed now more than ever.


Maybe you studied another language at University or spoke to your grandparents (or parents) in their native tongue.  You might have even travelled overseas and gained a new language (or even a partner) along the way.

Maybe you’ve been thinking of going back to study, and have been thinking of studying a language.  Besides meeting new people and learning new skills, a second language can also be a career booster!

If you’re thinking of trying out a new language with a short course, check out our short course guide here.

7 ways a language can boost your career

Unique Skill Set

Having the ability to speak another language is not all that common.   The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) say that almost 24% of Australians speak a language other than English, but each language group makes up less than 2% of the population.  In 2011, Mandarin, Italian and Arabic topped the lists of second languages, with Greek and Cantonese coming in close behind.  Having one of those languages gives you a unique skill set in the job market!
Even if you don’t need to use your second language to communicate with your colleagues, there is still a large portion of the community that value and need second language speakers to communicate with businesses.

Your unique skills will also likely open doors that maybe you wouldn’t have had the opportunity with. The employer may decide they will take someone with less experience in the role, but with valuable language skills that are much harder to find.

Flexibility and experience

Even if a company doesn’t need you to speak another language for the job you are being hired for, the fact that you have the skill is beneficial. They will know that the skill set is there if they ever need it in the future.   You also have an added advantage if you ever want to work overseas.  Nurses with Asian and middle eastern languages have many opportunities to travel and use their skills across the globe.  Australian qualifications are widely accepted (although you would need to go through a local registration process), and you’ll come back with great new skills on your resume.

Teachers are also well loved overseas, whether you have formal teaching qualifications, or skills in other areas and want to teach English overseas.  A second language can not only open doors to new experiences, but give you a foot in the door with employers, and will make settling into a new country a million times easier.

Language for career boosting

Open up the doors to an overseas work experience with a language

Some companies will pay a premium for people who can speak another language. Many government or service roles will require you to be a NAATI accredited translator or interpreter to be eligible for additional allowances. If you already have the language skills or qualifications in a Language other Than English (LOTE), NAATI can provide a range of qualification and accreditation options to get officially recognised. Some other roles, especially in contact with customers in multicultural areas will often request applicants to have skills in community languages and will pay allowances for roles that require you to use them.
Although a NAATI accreditation will cost you upfront, over the course of a career using your second (or third!) languages, it would really add up. If a company isn’t giving you a premium you can use it during the negotiation phase as a tool to get additional benefits like time off or a sign on bonus.
You will always have a conversation starter with your colleagues or customers. Having a few key phrases in a couple of languages used by your networks can be a great icebreaker and makes you more memorable too. It only takes a little effort on your part to be the person who made that extra bit of effort to ask how to say something in their language, or greeted them with a welcome in their own language. Standing out is something that is so helpful in your career. In a sea of other workers, being remembered is an essential step towards career success. Even if you get the pronunciation a bit wrong, it will provide them with a laugh and show your willingness to stand up and have a go.
Side Income
Even if your current job doesn’t require your skills you can use your free time to flaunt them. Think tutoring for high school students or helping families who recently moved to your country. Companies may even freelance bilingual services. There are so many companies that need the service, you can likely work on your terms. If you have more time on your hands, you might even consider roles such as taking elderly people shopping who cannot speak English very well, or helping to read their mail or make phone calls for them.
Change the way people see you
As HR & Talent Management showcases, bilingual employees are seen as smarter. The fact that you can understand what is being said in two different ways is mind boggling to one language speakers. There have even been studies pointing to increased intelligence in those who speak more than one language. Even if you aren’t going to use your language skills in your work, just having them shows you have an interest in other people and other cultures, are self-motivated, a life-long learner and have empathy for other cultures.
Being In Demand
Though being bilingual isn’t super common, it is highly sought after. With the market becoming more globalized, there are many companies who work with others in various countries. If you speak Spanish and the company has operations in a Spanish-speaking country, then employers will be looking for you. So make sure your skills are included on your resume and LinkedIn. Employers will search by the keyword with the language, so make sure you show up in those results!

Employment Avenues| Having a second language can help you have an edge in your career. The internet has opened the gateway for companies to expand globally and that means an increased need for people who can speak more than one language. Find out which languages topped the list of second languages.

Do you run a language course and would like to be featured on Employment Avenues?  We have potential students waiting to connect with you!  Contact us or submit a listing here.



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