How to Include Language Skills on a Resume (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 18 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Including language skills on your resume can be a good way to enhance your employment profile. Proficiency in another language may be a desirable qualification for multicultural working environments. Learning how to effectively highlight your language skills on your job application materials can increase your chances of qualifying for a multicultural role. In this article, we discuss how to include language skills on your resume, explore the importance of language skills, outline careers that often require bilingual employees and provide examples of how you can show these skills on a resume.

What are language skills?

Language skills are any languages that you can communicate in beyond a beginner level. Typically, these languages differ from the written language of your resume. For example, if your resume is in English, then the employer can grasp your comprehension. If you're fluent or a native Spanish speaker, you may include your skills on your resume.

Employers may require candidates to differentiate between conversational, listening or written language and provide details of their proficiency level. Language skills are a great tool to showcase on your resume and could set you apart from other candidates. Here's a way you can format your proficiency levels:

  • Beginner: Beginner states that you're starting in learning a new language, know some basics and could potentially hold a short conversation or understand some basic phrases.

  • Intermediate: Intermediate states that you can understand phrases and some parts of a conversation with a native speaker, and perhaps understand some written phrases. This also shows that you understand the fundamentals of grammar in that language.

  • Proficient: This states that you can hold a conversation, listen and read and write with confidence in the language. Proficient speakers understand grammatical rules to a good extent and can hold an extended conversation with minimal interruption.

  • Fluent: A fluent speaker can speak, read and write in the language with ease as if it was their native language. They can understand the difference between conversational and written language and can understand local idioms and phrases.

  • Native: A native speaker is someone who speaks their first language. For example, if Russian was your first language, you would be a native speaker.

Related: Understanding and Overcoming Common Communication Barriers with Examples

How to include language skills on your resume

Here's a guide showing you how to include language skills on a resume:

1. Study the job description and research the company

Before applying for a job, you may tailor your resume to fit the exact job requirements, this includes researching the location and primary spoken language of the business. By finding out the primary spoken language or clientele language, you can then mould your resume to fit the exact requirements of the business, making you a better candidate for the job.

This also helps filter out the relevant information from the unnecessary, giving you more opportunity to market yourself on your resume. For example, if the job location is in Italy, then you may immediately state that you're fluent in Italian and de-prioritise the other languages you speak. The recruiter likely stated language requirements in the job description, so ensure that you read the description carefully for other ways you can tailor your resume.

2. Rank your proficiency

Once you have determined your level of competency, you could rank your language proficiency in your resume. Proficiency levels often range from beginner, intermediate, proficient, fluent and native.

There are also several formal ranking scales you may use, like The Common European Framework of Reference (CERF) or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) framework. You may decide to use one to present your skills. You may base your decision on the individual job description and see whether extra languages are desirable. If they're specifically dictated, you may include a formal ranking.

3. Determine the placement

Where you include language skills on your resume is your decision. You may wish to present your language skills as an isolated section to highlight your knowledge, or you may wish to incorporate them with a wider skills list. Depending on the job requirements, you could isolate the specific language required so the employer can pick out the information easily to question you further in an interview.

Why language skills on your resume are important

Here are some reasons why language skills are important to have on your resume:

Highlights your soft skills

Strong language skills can show an advanced level of communication. Even excellent verbal and written comprehension in one language may be impressive to an employer, as they often highly value communication in the workplace. Being proficient in multiple languages can help you communicate with more colleagues and clients. Communication helps to avoid any miscommunication in the workplace. When you speak another language, you can answer questions, facilitate conversations and even translate for your customers to assist more people.

Extensive knowledge of one or more foreign languages also shows open-mindedness and adaptability, both of which may be especially desirable to an employer. Good communication skills are important for fostering peaceful and healthy working environments. Proficiency in a second or third language shows cultural consideration and respect for differing backgrounds, making you a better candidate for a diverse workplace. The ability to communicate in the employer's language or the language of the location shows an employer that your training process may be quicker than other candidates.

Shows your work qualifications

Some roles may require you to speak multiple languages. Language skills are an essential aspect of some jobs, especially those that involve overseas travel. For example, if you're applying to be a translator, it's essential to highlight your skills on a resume to show you qualify for the role. Your employer may want to see how proficient or confident you are in a particular language, so it's vital to include details about your proficiency level as well.

Shows employers you may assist with business development

Language skills are also important from a business development perspective. Communicating with international clients and partners could bring the business many overseas clients and travel opportunities, which may eventually equal more income and profit lines. Language skills are also great for building your personal professional network and diversifying your employment opportunities. By opening up international communication channels, your chances of finding a job increase significantly.

Related: Why Interpersonal Communication is So Important At Work

Careers that use multiple languages

Proficiency in multiple languages makes you a better candidate for many jobs that may have exciting overseas and networking opportunities. There are also certain careers that require additional language skills. Below are some examples:

1. Interpreter

National average salary: $59,081 per year

Primary duties: An interpreter recites speech from one language to another. Interpreters can work in a variety of settings, from the general workplace to government international conventions and even music concerts. Interpreters don't just specialise in spoken language, but can also interpret sign language for the deaf.

2. Foreign languages teacher

National average salary: $65,749 per year

Primary duties: Foreign languages teachers teach students how to speak, listen and write one or multiple languages. Typically, foreign languages teachers work in schools as part of the national curriculum, but can also help adults trying to learn different languages. Foreign language teachers can be instrumental in speech therapy settings or in clinical settings where a patient has to learn to talk again.

3. Translator

National average salary:$89,950 per year

Primary duties: Similar to an interpreter, a translator transforms written language into another. Translators can work in almost any setting, ranging from a corporate space to translating historical artefacts. Translators may require a bachelor's degree in the language they specialise in, depending on the career they're looking for.

4. Customer service

National average salary: $56,573 per year

Primary duties: Languages are useful in a customer service career as they allow the employee to reach a greater scope of customers, diversifying the company's clientele basis. By reaching out in a customer's language, a company has a better opportunity to globalise its business. The company also benefits from an image point of view, marketing them as accessible and diverse.

Related: 40 Popular Jobs That Travel

Language skills on a resume examples

Here are examples of how you may highlight your skills on a resume:

Skill section example

You can create a section called language skills on your resume to highlight your abilities. Then you may list each language you speak with your proficiency level. Here's an example:

Language skills

  • German – Native/Bilingual

  • British Sign Language – Fluent

  • Italian – Intermediate

Professional summary example

You may also highlight your skills in your job summary at the top of your resume. If you're applying for a role where speaking multiple languages is a requirement, consider adding this information at the top of your resume to help ensure the hiring manager notices it. Here's an example:

Professional summary

Motivated translator with six years of experience. Fluent in written and conversational Spanish with the ability to translate and interpret speech and written Spanish.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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