Are you fluent in any languages other than your native tongue? So, by including those language skills in your resume, you can become one of the candidates who stands out from the crowd even in a tough job market.
However, it is not sufficient to simply list the languages you know on your resume. There are several factors to consider in this regard. Our complete guide will explain what they are. Continue reading this article if you have language skills but don’t know how to properly insert them into your resume.
Let’s dive in!
What are resume language skills?
Language skills are any additional languages or foreign languages in which you are proficient in addition to your native language. In the language skills section of your resume, you can include all languages with intermediate, advanced, proficient or native proficiency.
Most demanded foreign languages to include on your resume in 2022
- Mandarin Chinese
Jobs which are most often require a second language
- Customer service associate
- Call center representative
- Interpreters and translators
- Flight attendants
- Reservation and Transportation Ticket Agents
- Foreign language and literature teachers
- Travel guide / tour guide
- Hotel managers
- Customs inspectors
- Digital marketing managers
Why is it important to add language skills on your resume
When you add a language skill level to your resume, you are demonstrating to the company that you can add value as a future bilingual or multilingual employee. It is easier and faster to enter the job market when you know multiple languages.
Language skills are useful to have on a resume because they demonstrate your ability to communicate more effectively in situations where others would encounter difficulties. A multilingual specialist is also considered to be more efficient. As a result, employers are more likely to choose you over others if you are a multilinguist.
Knowing a second language demonstrates your cultural awareness. As all industries and businesses now become more globalized, language skills is one of the essential resume skills for job seekers to have. If you intend to apply for a job in a foreign country, knowing the official language of that country will make it easier for you to get the job.
Language skills are important for getting to know cultural traditions, in addition to communicating with international partners of your potential employer.
When should you include language skills on resume
Consider how the additional language you speak applies to the business when preparing a resume for a new job. If they have listed proficiency in another language as a job requirement in the job description, include your language skills in your resume. However, you are always free to include the language skills in your resume even if it is not mentioned in the job description as a requirement.
Furthermore, if you can add language skills to your resume in the following situations, you will be able to gain more advantages as a job candidate.
- If you’re applying for a job in a foreign country.
- When you apply for a company with multilingual workers.
- When you want to make your resume stand out.
Where to include resume language skills
Your language skills can be listed in several places on your resume as follows.
- Skills section
- Specific language section
- Certification section
01. Skills section
The first place is to use bullet points in your main resume skills section to list languages in which you are fluent.
This is particularly useful for job seekers who only speak one or two other languages. They don’t need to dedicate a lot of space on their resume to mentioning their language abilities.
02. Specific language section
The second method is to create a separate resume section for your language skills. You should only do this if you speak four or five different languages and/or want to categorize and demonstrate your language skills. For example, if you wish to specify the fluency level of each language, it is ideal to create a dedicated resume section for language skills.
03. Certification section
On your resume, don’t forget to list any language certifications you have. Resume certificates are strong and accredited qualifications of your language levels. Certification in any language improves your chances of landing a job quickly.
How to list your language skills properly on a resume
On your resume, there are a few standard ways to describe your language skills. In most cases, the scales listed below are the best ways to describe your general language skill level and most probably they will be understood by almost any employer.
Tips to write language skills in a resume
- Create a separate section to list your language skills. So that hiring managers will make it easy to find your language proficiencies.
- Add the Language Skills section to your resume after the main resume sections such as: Heading, Summary, Work Experience, Education, and Skills.
- List your language level of proficiency using just one language framework.
- If you are proficient in more than one language, start with the one you are most fluent with and then list others.
Levels of resume language proficiency
Basic – This means that you can understand the basic words and phrases but not be able to have a conversation.
Intermediate – This means you can have a basic conversation with someone in that particular language. However, a lack of vocabulary, inability to read, and a misunderstanding of grammatical rules can occur here.
Conversational – This indicates that you can have complete conversations in this language but not at a fluent level. You may find it difficult to communicate with native speakers.
Proficient – This suggests that the person has the ability to speak, read, and write a language with ease. Proficient speakers can easily converse with native speakers. They typically possess a larger vocabulary.
Fluent – suggests that you are extremely comfortable when speaking, writing, or reading in this language and that you can hold conversations at the same level as a native speaker. The people with this level of language proficiency also have a thorough understanding of colloquialism.
Native – It shows that this is your mother tongue and that you are completely comfortable speaking, reading, and writing in it, as well as having a thorough understanding of the grammar patterns, complex concepts, and vocabulary.
There are a few other proficiency frameworks available to demonstrate your level of language proficiency.
ILR (Interagency Language Roundtable)
The United States government utilizes this grading scale. The skill level is assigned to a person through an ILR test or authorized language examination.
- 0 (No Proficiency)
- 0+ (Memorized Proficiency)
- 1 (Elementary Proficiency)
- 1+ (Elementary Proficiency, Plus)
- 2 (Limited Working Proficiency)
- 2+ (Limited Working Proficiency, Plus)
- 3 (General Professional Proficiency)
- 3+ (General Professional Proficiency, Plus)
- 4 (Advanced Professional Proficiency)
- 4+ (Advanced Professional Proficiency, Plus)
- 5 (Functionally Native Proficiency)
CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages)
CEFR is the most commonly used language proficiency rating system used in Europe. The CEFR categorizes language skills into six levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. These six reference levels (from Beginner to Proficiency) are widely accepted as the international scale for measuring an individual’s language proficiency.
ACTFL (The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages)
The internationally recognized ACTFL proficiency scale has four basic levels: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Superior. They are further subdivided into three sublevels: Low, Mid, and High.
Examples of resume language skills
Here are some general ways that you can showcase your language proficiency levels on a resume.
Example #1 – Language skills in general skills section
- SEO / SEM
- Social media marketing
- German (Conversational)
Example #2 – Dedicated language skills section
- English – Native/Bilingual (ILR Level 5)
- German – Professional Proficiency (ILR Level 5)
- Japanese – Professional Proficiency (ILR Level 4+)
- Spanish – Professional Working Proficiency (ILR Level 3+)
Example #3 – Languages skills using CEFR scale
- English – C2
- French – C1
- German – B1
Example #4 – Using ACTFL proficiency scales
- French – Superior
- Italian – Advanced mid
- German – Intermediate high
Example #5 – Language skills in certifications section
- Certificate in Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) – N1
The Japan Foundation
- Certificate of achievement – French for beginners course
What to avoid when listing language skills in a resume
Do not lie on your resume
If you don’t have any foreign language skills, don’t include them in your resume. If the job requires a specific language, the interview, or at least a portion of it, will almost always be conducted in that language. Therefore, if you are not fluent in that language, it can be very embarrassing and awkward for you.
For any reason, if they don’t communicate in that language at the interview, your potential employers expect you to be able to communicate in that language once you start working. They may even fire you if they discover you don’t have the required language skills later. It will then be a black mark on your career as well.
Don’t mix language proficiency frameworks together
You are already aware that there are several proficiency frameworks that can be used when listing language skills on a resume. However, when listing your language skills, use only one of these frameworks. If you have a standard language proficiency framework that is specific to a country, only use that framework when applying for jobs in that country.
Don’t forget to include all of the languages you’re fluent in!
Sometimes all of the foreign languages you know are listed on your resume, but you might forget to include your native language. But never, ever do that. Because you may lose your job if you fail to mention your native language proficiency. When listing language skills on your resume, make sure to include every language in which you are fluent.