In this article monster.com says highlighting your Spanish skills on your resume won’t make it stand out in today’s competitive job market. I agree. 100%
There are two reasons I agree–one has to do with listing skills on your resume and the other with how you represent your foreign language skills.
1) Don’t list skills on you resume.
Candidates have it all wrong if they’re listing “SKILLS” on their resume. I hate to see a resume with this one word at the bottom in the “skills” section: “Spanish.” Not impressive.
Job ads will sometimes list required skills (such as “Microsoft Office” or “Excel”) and if you have those skills, you might want to list them in a skills section. However, when I see that in a job ad, it makes me think that the ad itself hasn’t been updated since the 90’s and that’s why they’re expecting 1990’s-style resumes. But what can you do? You have to match your application to the ad.
Here’s one solution: sprinkle the key words from the required skills throughout your resume so they’re still there, but in a context that shows how you use those skills.
Which bring me to my second point:
2) It matters how you represent your language and cultures skills on your resume.
Using your language and cultures skills to solve a specific problem or to highlight a soft skill employers do want–that’s a winner.
Did you resolve a communication problem that saved your last employer from getting sued or allowed a client to receive goods or services that they wouldn’t have had access to without your language and cultures skills?
That problem-solving through effective communication is probably something your future employers want to see–and you can be the one candidate who articulates it well and proves you know what you’re talking about through a clear, concise, specific example.
Did one experience in your last job show you that you have to sell a million boring units in order to pay the bills so that you can have fun with the few really outstanding high end products you represent?
That’s an important lesson to share with future employers: you understand that every job has an unpleasant side–some chore or repetitive record keeping or mundane task–which is precisely what allows you to do the part of the job you love. Now your foot is in the door to share your passion for some aspect of the industry in a way that makes you shine and makes the employer want to hire you over all the other qualified candidates.
P.S. I just love how monster.com say “learn Arabic or Japanese or Chinese” like it’s just a matter of taking a Saturday afternoon to master a complex language (in the case of both Arabic and Chinese, you’re talking about multiple languages with multiple dialects). Those are skills that will take thousands of hours of time investment to acquire.
Darcy Lear is a career coach specializing in training students to highlight their language studies so they stand out in the job search and workplace. For one-on-one support in preparing for your job search or to set up a workshop, contact Darcy: firstname.lastname@example.org