Looking for a cool job? Check out Black Enterprise’s Cool Jobs section for profiles on, well, some cool jobs!
Looking for another way to stand out in a tough job market, plus increase your competitiveness and versatility down the road in your career? If you can commit to adding one or more languages to your resume, you’ll instantly stand out from the crowd.
Being able to use a foreign language for business purposes is a transferable skill that will always be in demand, no matter what career path you follow.
If you learned a bit of foreign language in high school or college but then just kind of dropped it, this is a great time to pick it up again and get serious about becoming proficient, if not fluent.
Maybe you’re wondering: Don’t people everywhere pretty much speak some English by now?
Yes, the world’s getting smaller thanks to digital technologies. But that doesn’t mean it’s getting more homogenous. As more people get connected, the Internet is becoming more diverse and multilingual. Get this: Arabic is now one of the fastest growing languages in use on the Internet.
Chances are that, as you climb the career ladder, you’ll have contact with clients or colleagues living overseas. Speaking the language of people in your communities gives you insights into what matters to them. If they’re customers, that knowledge can be a big advantage.
But it’s not just about making yourself a better employee; it’s about putting yourself in a position for more adventure.
If you’re fluent in another language and can hold your own in another culture, you’ll also be an excellent candidate for overseas postings. It’s a chance to expand your horizons in a way few people can once out of college, while keeping some ties with home.
Don’t feel like resuming your college Spanish (although Spanish is an excellent choice)? Mandarin Chinese and Arabic are becoming more important on a global scale, with demand for speakers outstripping supply. Even if your company doesn’t have immediate need for a Mandarin-speaking manager, most employers will love the potential for future growth.
And don’t forget that languages can lead to exciting career opportunities of their own.
If you like languages already and are feeling the tug to explore a new career, consider these four gigs:
1. Translator or Interpreter. These careers require full fluency—plus you’ll need a flair for capturing the tone and style of the foreign language. If you want to be an interpreter, you’ll need to be able to work at speed and with the nuances of a language while under pressure.
2. Language Teacher. If you have a gift for teaching, there are few careers as rewarding. The choices include everything from high school teaching to adult education. There’s also the option of teaching your native language abroad.
3. International Marketing. From account executives to brand managers and PR consultants, you have a wealth of opportunities if you speak other languages. Online marketing makes it easy to go international, and every language you can use will give you better access to the growing number of non-English speakers who use the Internet.
4. Entrepreneur. Never has there been a better time to make global connections. Being an entrepreneur is all about seeing opportunities and seizing them. The polyglot (someone who speaks several languages) not only has a much larger network, but can also keep an eye on global trends. While your competitors chase the fiercely competitive English-speaking markets, the rest of the world is wide open to you.
Armed with a foreign language or two, you’ll be well-placed to switch careers or to seize promotion opportunities in your current field. There’s a whole world out there—go get your share!