Listing Languages on Your Resume

Hola! Shalom! Ni hao!  Bonjour! Hello! 

Chances are you recognize more than one of these greetings. If so, you are at least familiar with more than one language.  That’s great because as the world shrinks and global interaction and global business increase, it’s an advantage to have knowledge of more than one language

Learning a language helps develop cognitive skills, mental flexibility, multitasking, listening and problem-solving skills. Knowing a language can also prove valuable when studying abroad, in an internship or at a job.

According to Eton Institute’s Language Development in the Workforce Survey (2014), 89% of their clients stated that multilingual employees add value to the workforce, and 88% stated that recruiting people with language skills is important to their organization. 

If you do have knowledge of more than one language, below are some suggestions for how to write your language skills on your resume, and how to determine your level of language proficiency.

If your language skills are related to the position you are applying for, or will benefit the employer, put a Language section at the top of your resume under Education. If your language skills are not related to the position, put this section lower on your resume, after your Employment Experience and Education sections. 

In addition to listing your language(s), a prospective employer needs a tangible way to determine your ability. Here are five levels of language proficiency to consider using on your resume:

  • Beginner. If you’re starting to learn a new language.
  • Intermediate. You are able to speak a language but still make your share of mistakes.
  • Proficient. You can have a solid conversation but lack some words or phrases.
  • Fluent. You read, write and easily speak the language.
  • Native. This is your native tongue; you learned to speak it in early childhood.

This is what a Language section might look like on a resume:

Languages: Mandarin (native); English (fluent); Spanish (beginner)

If English is your native language, you don’t need to list it on your resume:

Languages: Italian (fluent); French (proficient)

Language is an important skill and can set you apart from other applicants. If you need assistance adding a Language section to your resume, make an appointment with a Career Counselor in Handshake (bu.joinhandshake.com) and we’ll be happy to help.

Merci! Danke! Grazie! Arigato! Thanks for reading our post!

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