An update on this post that includes specific examples is now available here: “How to Include ‘Spanish’ on Your Resumes–A Specific Example.”
Last week, in a post titled “Including ‘Skills’ and ‘Spanish’ on Your Resume. Do You Need Either?” I wrote about the importance of showing how you use Spanish on your resume instead of just listing it in the “skills” section.
This week I want to address this question: How do you rank your own level of language fluency?
Do you claim to be fluent if you’ve taken Spanish for 10 years? What are the other words you can use to describe your fluency level? How do you know which one describes your own Spanish?
First, here is a list of key terms that can be used to describe language fluency.
- Beginning is anything through 3-4 semesters.
- Intermediate is 4-7 semesters.
- Proficient is if you’ve been immersed (say, studied abroad for an entire year of college or something similar).
- Fluent describes regular use in your everyday life (you’ve used it in different contexts for extended periods throughout your life–maybe lived & worked abroad).
- Native is really only appropriate if it’s your first language or one you have spoken your whole life.
Second, be honest about your level. If you say you’re fluent and then stutter through an answer to an interview question that’s asked in Spanish, that undermines everything on your resume–not just the descriptor you chose for your language fluency. If it appears that you lied about your Spanish language skills, then potential employers might assume you lied or exaggerated about other items on your resume (even if it was an innocent mistake brought about by not knowing how to best describe your own language level).
Finally, because ranking your own Spanish fluency level can be entirely subjective, I recommend paying $25 to use Pearson’s Versant test to evaluate your proficiency. It will produce a valid, reliable, objective ranking of your level so you can confidently & accurately claim that you speak at a “novice high” or “intermediate mid” or “advanced low” level (there are a total of 8 fluency levels for which Versant tests).
Versant is a great affordable way to get an objective evaluation that you can use when you’re preparing your resume and want to be sure to include your Spanish language skills!
In your third, fourth, and fifth drafts of your resume, consider eliminating the “skills” section and integrating those skills throughout your resume in a way that illustrates your proficiency. For a specific example of how to do this, see my post, “How to Include ‘Spanish’ on Your Resumes–A Specific Example.” For help, contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Darcy Lear is a career coach specializing in job search documents, professional school applications, and interview preparation. For one-on-one support in preparing for your job search or to set up a campus workshop, contact Darcy: email@example.com