When entering the workforce or switching careers, most people focus on hard and soft skills specifically related to the duties they will need to perform. These can include very specific skills related to your job title, such as computer programming skills and experience with certain software, or can include soft skills such as good communication, time management, and empathy. However, a skill that many often overlook but that is highly beneficial for many careers and industries is being bilingual or knowing multiple languages. Not only can knowing another language in addition to your native language help you stand out as an applicant, but it can also help you grow and advance in your career, leading to greater success. So which language you should learn for your career?
How Learning a New Language Can Help Your Career
Though being bilingual is not a requirement for all careers, it is always a good skill to have and can benefit you in many ways. In general, the advancement of technology and our society means international business and communications are much more common. As such, a lot of startups and other new businesses look highly upon potential candidates who can speak multiple languages.
So, whether being bilingual is a requirement or not, it’s a good idea to work on learning a second or even third language to boost your potential.
Below are the top advantages of being bilingual as a working professional:
- Boost your earning potential. Generally, the more skills and experience a person has, the more money they can earn in their career. So if you know another language or multiple languages, your employer is more likely to offer you a higher income because you are a bigger asset.
- Boost your resume. Of course, as mentioned above, being bilingual is yet another skill you can add to your resume to help you land your ideal job. These days, a lot of careers or positions are competitive, so the more skills you can add to help you stand out, the better.
- More business opportunities. Knowing another language can also open you up to new business opportunities. For example, if your company decides to expand into new international markets, it will likely look to promote employees internally who could excel in those markets, which can open your career up to a host of new opportunities.
- Better leadership and management potential. Learning a new language doesn’t just expand your language skills; it also expands your overall communication skills and your ability to better understand others. This makes you an ideal candidate for leadership or management roles.
- Improve critical and creative thinking. Knowing multiple languages also improves your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Learning a new language is not easy, and it pushes your brain to work harder. This means you are much more capable of using your brain to understand complex situations and problems, making you a good critical and creative thinker, which are quality skills to have in any career.
The Top Five Languages Spoken Worldwide
While there are thousands of languages spoken worldwide, only a select few are the most common for industry purposes. Not all countries are popular when it comes to international business, so there are some languages that are more beneficial to learn than others if you are looking to boost your career potential.
America is not the only country where English is the predominant language. There are millions of people worldwide who speak English. This makes English one of the top languages to know when you are looking to land a job.
Mandarin, the official language of China and Taiwan, is the second most spoken language globally. A lot of companies do business with China or have international locations in China, so knowing Mandarin can also significantly boost your career potential.
Spanish is the fourth most commonly spoken language, and it is becoming increasingly common in the United States. For this reason, many American companies look for candidates who can speak both English and Spanish.
Of course, there are also plenty of other countries where Spanish is the primary language. So if you want to open yourself up to more career opportunities, Spanish is a good choice as a second language.
Many consider French to be an influential language, and it is spoken in over 40 countries around the world. For this reason, it is considered one of the top languages to learn for business purposes next to Mandarin.
A lot of international business comes out of Europe, and Germany is one of Europe’s largest economies. Germany is also well known for its companies in the science and technology industries. This makes German another highly influential language that can help you get a leg up in your career, especially if you are working in a technological field.
How to Determine Which Language you should Learn for Your Career
As for deciding which language is best for you to learn, it can depend on a couple of different factors. You should consider where you want to be located when you work, the industry you are working in or interested in, and what markets the company you are interested in works with.
For example, if you are American but specifically want to work abroad, you should, of course, learn the native language of the country you want to move to. If you are interested in a specific industry, do some research and identify what other countries are well-connected to that industry. Germany and Japan, for instance, are both powerhouses in the science and technology fields, so if that’s your area of interest, consider learning German or Japanese.
If you have your sights set on a specific company, do some digging and look into what other markets that company specifically has ties to. For example, with international e-commerce and the internet enabling companies to reach consumers around the world, knowing multiple languages can come in handy even if it is not a job requirement. Even if they don’t require applicants to be bilingual, knowing the language of their international partners or consumers can really help you stand out.
If multiple languages are an option for the industry you are interested in, it’s helpful to do some critical thinking before just picking one. The language you choose can have a significant impact on your career, so it’s important to give it some thought. A mind map or any other sort of visual diagram can help as you layout and research all of your options.
And of course, you don’t have to pick just one. If you can handle it, learning multiple languages is always more beneficial than just learning one other language. The more languages you know, the more opportunities you open yourself up to.
As our world grows and we become even more connected through technology, being bilingual can have numerous benefits. Knowing multiple languages is not just great for your career; it can help you in many aspects of your life as well. People who are bilingual overall are better communicators and more capable of critical thinking, which can come in handy in professional and personal relationships.
Just remember to take your time deciding which language you should learn is right for your career. Learning a new language is not easy, so whichever one you choose, you want to make sure the time and effort are well worth it.
Tell us in the comment Which language you would prefer to learn for your career? You can also fill out this small survey below