More than half the world’s population speaks more than one language and the number is steadily rising. The world is becoming more and more fused – especially when it comes to the labor market – and more and more collaborations are emerging across the globe.
This is due in particular to digital development, as it has made distance an insignificant factor in terms of communication around the world and between people. For this reason, language skills and foreign languages are on the CV, something that more and more employers attach great importance to.
If you are one of the approximately 50 percent who speak more than just one language, it may therefore be a good idea to write it on your CV when you are a job seeker.
What are foreign languages and language skills?
Before you dive into noting your language skills and foreign languages on your resume, it is important that you know what it means.
Foreign languages are the languages that you have acquired throughout your life in addition to your mother tongue. If your mother tongue is Danish and you have learned to speak English during your life, English will be a foreign language that you can note on your CV.
When it is relevant to note a foreign language on your CV, however, depends on several things.
Language skills are how well you speak that foreign language. If you have learned English in primary school but have not used it since, for example, there is a good chance that you will not mark English as the one you are strongest at.
Have you conversely used English further in your life – for example at your work, during your education, etc. – you can mark that your language skills are advanced. You can find inspiration for how to mark this in the last section.
Why is it important to have language skills on your CV?
As mentioned in the introduction, mergers and collaborations have taken place across the globe over the last many years – also within the labor market. Therefore, it is relevant to show a potential employer that you have the opportunity to enter into these transnational collaborations.
However, it is different how clearly you have to mark your foreign languages and language skills on your CV. This depends in particular on two things; how it is related to the position and your level of competence.
If it is a requirement for the position that you must be able to speak languages other than Danish, it is important that you mark your foreign languages clearly. The same applies if you have high competencies in a foreign language – even if they are not a requirement for the position.
No matter what position or industry you are applying for, it will always be relevant to be able to speak several languages. These are beneficial whether it’s customer service, foreign offices or clients.
That said, it’s a good idea to prioritize the placement of your foreign languages and language skills in your resume, depending on how much the job posting emphasizes it.
What can language skills look like on a resume?
Your language skills can be placed virtually anywhere in your resume, but as mentioned in the previous section, it is important that you place it correctly, depending on how big a requirement it is for the position.
If it is a big requirement for the position, it is an advantage to mark your language skills in the margin text. This is an eye-catching location, and is therefore good if you want to show off your language skills extra much.
When writing about your work experience, you can write about how you used foreign languages in your previous jobs as a subpoint.
If a foreign language has been a big part of your education, you can also mark your foreign languages here. You can do this by making a sub-item where you describe how language has played a role in your education.
This applies, for example, if you have studied a foreign language or been abroad.
You can also place your language skills under the section on personal details or special skills. These sections are usually located at the bottom, so you should only place your language skills here if they do not have a major impact on the position.
Before deciding where on your resume to place your language skills, you should also assess your skills in your foreign languages. As a rule, it can be divided into six different levels:
0: You have no knowledge of the language and have never studied it.
1: You have basic skills. You can make yourself understood and understand a little of the language at the level that you can greet, ask for directions and the like.
2: You have limited knowledge, which means you can have easy conversations, but have difficulty using the language in professional contexts.
3: You have good knowledge and can use the language in professional contexts. However, you still need help with words and phrases.
4: You have very good knowledge. This means that you can speak as well as write the language without any particular problems – both privately and professionally. You are independent enough in the language not to need a helping hand to formulate and translate.
5: The language is your native language, or you have spoken the language intensively for a long time.
As a rule, it is only necessary to mention your language skills on your CV if they are at level 3-5 for a job posting, where great emphasis is placed on the language skills.
For a job posting where foreign languages are not a requirement, it may be relevant to also mention the languages you can use at a level lower than 3.
It is never a bad idea to mention that you speak or understand more than one language. The question is therefore not whether you should mention your language skills, but rather where you should mention them in your CV.