5 Reasons Why Learning a Foreign Language Can Fast-track Your Career

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By Barney Meekin · August 3, 2023 · 7 minute read

Getting a job — even with a degree — is tough. Especially if you want to work in competitive industries. The job market is full of experienced and talented people, and making an impression on employers isn't getting any easier.

Luckily there are some things you can do to increase your chances. One of those is adding languages to your resume. In this article, you’ll learn the top five reasons why speaking multiple languages helps your employment chances.

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The top 5 reasons why knowing more than one language increases your employability

Let’s take a look at why speaking more than one language makes a lasting impact on employers, and how they can make you the no-brainer choice for the next job you go for.

1. You are in demand

Businesses need employees who understand multiple languages because it’s good for their bottom line (check out our article on tips on how to learn multiple languages if you want to become a polyglot!). The more people staff can communicate with, the more products or services they can sell. For this reason, if you can help them reach more customers, you become valuable to their business.

Let’s look at the data. A survey by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages found that 90% of US businesses need staff who speak more than just English. That’s a lot of potential employers.

But it’s not just in the USA. You’ll be in demand wherever you’re based — 1 in 4 UK businesses need foreign language skills in the future and 1 in 4 jobs in Europe need advanced language skills. You can bet this is a similar pattern in any country in the world.

A business’s main objective is to grow profits. And no doubt staff who speak multiple languages help them achieve that. Language skills make you more desirable to employers. And help you get that job or promotion.

Here are some industries that need multilingual employees:

  • Government/public services

  • Customer service/retail

  • Hospitality

  • Air travel

2. You prove you have communication skills

One of the greatest benefits of learning a language is the effect it has on your communication skills.

Communication skills, by the way, are one of the most in-demand soft skills. A survey by ZipRecruiter found that 93% of employers put a lot of importance on soft skills when they’re hiring staff. They are often one of the deciding factors. And no soft skill is more important than communication skills.

That’s because communication skills are crucial for efficient and productive teams. Employees who can communicate often become leaders. And in client-facing industries, communication skills are beneficial for support, sales, and marketing.

Wowing employers with your language skills shows them that you have high-level communication skills, you’re a leadership candidate, or you can have a big effect on their sales performance. In other words, communication skills are a great way to demonstrate your value to a company.

Communication skills can help you get a role in industries like these:

  • Marketing and sales

  • Education

  • Human resources

  • Counseling

  • Law

  • Public relations/media

3. You have cultural awareness

Here’s another soft skill that employers want to see: Cultural awareness. This skill is essential for the modern workplace. That’s because it makes you more empathetic and tolerant, it sets you up for leadership, and it increases the business’ globalization opportunities. With the push in recent years to be more aware of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), staff members with high cultural awareness are in high demand.

There are lots of ways to increase your cultural awareness. But one of the best is learning a new language. Language and culture are so closely linked, you can’t learn a language without being influenced by the culture too.

This kind of cross-cultural understanding is great for teams. And results in happy and productive workplaces. It’s also important for working with foreign business partners or customers because you become more accepting of our differences.

Cultural awareness is especially important in these situations (and any business that is involved in these, needs staff who understand other cultures):

  • Working with foreign business partners

  • Taking part in international conferences

  • Finding overseas partners or distributors

  • Developing new products for overseas markets

  • Pitching and negotiating with foreign customers and prospects

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4. You demonstrate your critical thinking, problem-solving, and analysis skills

Here are other in-demand skills that language learners have in buckets: Critical thinking, problem-solving, and analysis skills. According to the World Economic Forum, businesses are facing a skill gap. With staff not having enough critical thinking, problem-solving, and analysis skills, businesses are facing expensive reskilling or not being able to keep up with changing requirements in jobs.

Here’s how you show potential employers that you have all of those skills — wow them with your language proficiency. Language learning is proven to increase these skills. As well as improving your memory and attention span

So if you’re aiming to work in a job that requires these, adding language skills to your resume is a surefire way to impress employers.

Here are some jobs that need critical thinking, problem-solving, and analysis skills:

  • Financial analyst

  • Teacher

  • Lawyer

  • Doctor

  • Engineer

  • Scientist

5. You have more varied work opportunities

Learning a language isn’t only about business and making money though. There are other ways to measure success. One such way is measuring success by the number of interesting experiences you have. The number of countries you work in. The amazing, unusual industries you get to work in. And the interesting people you meet.

Some jobs allow you to see the world — but if you want one of these jobs, you need the language skills to back it up. Language skills are a great way to get into the tourism industry for example or they can help you get a job as a military translator.

Globalization has increased the number of global companies that need talented communicators too. If you’re interested in cars, why not learn Japanese to work with one of their car makers?

Global culture and media also need localization experts. Someone’s got to translate the latest Italian movies into English. With the right skills, maybe that could be you.

Language skills can lead to exciting careers like these:

  • Intelligence

  • Military

  • Diplomacy

  • Tourism

  • Translation/localization

Jump into an exciting career with help from Busuu

Language skills open exciting doors. Use Busuu’s community of millions of language learners and native speakers, and its expert-crafted courses to give you the language skills you need. For the job of your dreams.