Over and over, employers say they want certain skills in their new hires: good written and verbal communication, organization, problem-solving, decision-making, and people who understand and can demonstrate culturally appropriate behavior in a variety of situations.
Employers want to know they can send you to a meeting or on a business trip and that you will adapt to your environment, you won’t freak out when things aren’t exactly what you’re used to, and that you’ll make a good impression on the new people you encounter by fitting in.
“Six Moments of Code-Switching in Popular Culture” provides some funny examples of fitting in–or not fitting in–from pop culture (with a few dead links, include Desi Arnaz’s code-switching on “I Love Lucy”). Whether it’s pop culture or an executive board room, the more you can move between multiple worlds, the more opportunities you will have–opportunities to get jobs, join projects, get promoted, and build the career you want for yourself.
We all belong to many different subcultures. And everyone changes behavior, gestures, and language as they move from one subculture to another. But you have to be aware of it. You have know how to step outside of your own experiences in order to see your world in the way that others might. You have to imagine yourself as existing in the worlds of other subcultures to which you do not belong.
Studying languages can give you that. But even if you don’t study languages, you still have to be able to translate a skill set from one context to another. If the ad for you dream job requires that the candidate have “program development experience” and you “designed, taught, and evaluated curricula” in one job, then you have the required experience–you just have to use the same language employers do.
You have to know what your multilingual and multicultural strengths are, how to use them professionally, and how to talk about them in your job search documents, professional school applications, and interview materials so you are the standout candidate.
Need help translation your skills and experience into the language of employers? 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