A bit of background for this: I used to teach professional and technical writing to international students in an American university, and resume creation was one of the key aspects of this class. We talked about this a lot, and what follows is generally what I taught in that class.
After that, as you note, it gets a little fuzzy. Describing proficiency in terms of years of use as one of your examples is not terribly useful at all. I could probably buy some wine and cheese. But if one of my mythical classmates went to France after one year of college classes, was immersed in the culture, and lived there for several months with nothing to do but work with the language, their 1. So, numbers are out. That leaves general terms like fluent, proficient, competent, and a host of others, as you note.
There are several tests and frameworks of language proficiency that offer guidelines that you can use, and more importantly , hiring institutions might be using as well. However, a level like "Professional working proficiency" includes things like "able to speak the language with sufficient structural accuracy and vocabulary to participate effectively in most conversations on practical, social, and professional topics", and would be close to if not a bit higher than what a non-Government job might refer to as "business level".
So, on a resume, it would be completely reasonable to have a section for Language Skills that looked like this:. You are basically a student of the language and enjoy working with it. You cannot be depended on to apply this language reliably in a real world situation.
You have basic speaking and comprehension skills in this language. Take a look at the sample resume for an applicant searching for an IT job:. Because an IT job requires an employee to have a base set of abilities, the applicant starts off by listing his Technical Skills instead of adding them as Additional Skills towards the end.
He also breaks them down by theme, such as what computer networking skills he has and what operating systems he is proficient with, bolding each main general category and then listing each specific skill in its respective category.
Some jobs where using a Technical Skills section instead of an Additional Skills section could be beneficial are:. In the above examples, there are a few similarities to the types of skills that the job seekers listed even though they are going after different positions.
A hiring manager is interested in what relevant skills you have. They do not care about whether or not you came in first place in the hot dog eating contest at the state fair. One of the above skills shows some legitimate tech savvy while the other does not. Keep your resume skills targeted toward the job you are applying for. Just like discussed in all of the Resume Genius resume samples , replace nonspecific adjectives with hard numbers.
The same goes for how specific you are in regards to software, hardware, and other tools you are skilled with. Fluent in English and Spanish , and proficient in French. For example, keep your computer skills with your technical abilities and your speaking and language skills with your communication abilities. One of the best ways to showcase your skills is by crafting an achievement-oriented professional experience section.
Compile a list of all your abilities that you feel are most relevant to your target position. Once you have your list, the next step is to convert those basic skills into bullet points that prove you can use them to effectively produce results.
In this bullet, the candidate uses their communication skills to produce real, significant results that benefited their employer — thereby proving they have strong, valuable communication abilities. While this step is optional, you should still quantify your bullets whenever possible.
Adding numbers makes your bullet points carry more weight and gives the hiring manager a clearer picture of your abilities. The American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages has developed language proficiency guidelines, and you can learn more about them through this link. This program includes free self assessment tools for foreign language ability. The Interagency Language Roundtable has developed assessment scales as well, you can reach them through this link: Interagency Language Roundtable Scale.
The European community has developed proficiency evaluations for foreign languages. It may be to your career advantage to complete a program, like this, that will qualitatively state your language proficiency level and provide documents to validate it. An online search will help you to find programs to in which to participate. It is essential to know how to write resume foreign language skills, how to define them and then to phrase them in powerful ways that add value to prospective employers.
Once you decide to list your language proficiency on your resume, keep in mind that just making a blanket statement that you are proficient in a specific language is NOT noteworthy; especially if it does not benefit the prospective employer.
Here are a few examples:. During the hiring or interview process, you will be evaluated on your language proficiency. Many times, this will take place during the job interview. The hiring manager or a member of the interview panel may begin to speak to you in the foreign language and ask you questions. They will know immediately if you are not able to perform at the level you stated on your resume.
During the interview, you could be asked to read a foreign text out loud and then to interpret it into English or vice versa.
The interviewers may require you to provide a written foreign language sample based upon your reading or listening comprehension during the interview. Having advanced skill and fluency in a foreign language is a valuable asset in the international business community and in government service.
Remember to keep your foreign language skill relevant and show prospective employers how you can add value to their organization with your skill. Accurately stating your proficiency and demonstrating how you are able to use that foreign language in employment situations — will cause you to shine brighter and help set you apart from other candidates. It may also garner you higher wages and more prestigious positions. Always show the employer how it will benefit them and you will benefit when they offer you a new job!
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What are some good ways of listing language proficiency on a resume? Problem: Language is such a complex thing to explain simply. There are several aspects of most languages (reading, writing, speaking, listening), and being good at one aspect doesn't mean you'll be good at the rest.
How to include language skills on your resume will depend on whether they are relevant to the job, how many you speak, and to what level. Your language skills are only a small part of your resume, so it’s vital that also you understand how to write a resume .
2. The Ultimate List of Skills for Resumes. Below is the largest list of skills for resumes in the universe. We’ve organized hard and soft skills into all their important categories. Click the categories that best suit your experience to . The following information should help you to assess your language proficiency level so that you can more accurately represent it on your resume and job application. This overview of common language terms and possible definitions was compiled from numerous sources. How to Write Resume Foreign Language Skills. It is essential .
Language skills on a resume template from the Zety resume builder. And finally, you might put it in the Personal Details section if you have one. If knowing a certain language is a must, give it a plug in the resume summary/objective. What's the best way to describe your language skills on your resume? Are you fluent, are you proficient, are you at an intermediate level? And what section do they go in? We have some helpful tips. What's the best way to describe your language skills on your resume? Are you fluent, are you proficient, are you at an intermediate level?