You may have heard that knowing a foreign language leads to prospects of increased job opportunities and a boost in salary.
But is it really true? Can languages earn you a higher salary?
Nowadays, graduating from university is a minimum requirement in the marketplace and there are graduates flooding in year on year . Therefore, you are entering a very crowded market where almost all job seekers have the basic requirements to fit an employer’s basic needs.
One way to differentiate yourself in this increasingly competitive job market is demonstrating that you are bilingual or multilingual. A competency that increases your earning power. The fact that you have already used a foreign language working for another company or can show your employer that you have the potential to communicate comfortably with overseas’ clients automatically separates you from the masses.
I know what you’re thinking, I speak English, so it’s fine!
Yes, you’re right to some extent but…. It’s just NOT enough!
With a world that’s even more connected than ever, international trade/exchange can dramatically increase a company’s profits opening doors to a global client base. Speaking another language gives you the key to this whole new world.
Let’s look at the potential occupations outside of translators, language teachers, interpreters, there are a bunch of possibilities
- To travel
- Sporting is international
- Major tournaments like the Olympic Games, World Cup, Euro
- Top Level Media, dealing with press
- Gaming industry for the likes of EA Sports, Nintendo
- Brand Specialist for companies like google, yahoo
With such promising prospects, some will always find an excuse not to take up a foreign language and here are a few commonly used reasons amongst adults:
- I’m too old to learn a language
- I don’t have the time
- I didn’t do well at school
We feel that the fact you are reading this post means somewhere along the line, you’ve toyed with the idea but not really pursued your options.
If you know that there is a slight opportunity that your current employer is looking to hire a language expert or if you’re looking for a change in your career path but just need to take the first step and fit in some learning, NOW is the time.
We guarantee that eventually, knowing a foreign language will become one of those basic requirements as it is the case today with graduating.
Admittedly, learning a language when you already lead a busy lifestyle is an ambitious task to say the least. It might not be your overall goal to become a native-like speaker but having notions or the ability to those vital “soft skills” that recruiters are in desperate need of could prove fruitful. Where it gives you the opportunity to partake in meetings, client entertainment – meeting and greeting, or even sharing a drink in the bar with clients are all integral steps to securing that pay rise.
Companies need to retain their client base and if you can be the person they turn too that helps build and maintain that particular relationship, how much of a valuable asset do you instantly become to that business?
From a business and client point of view there is great appreciation for someone who has made the effort to learn the language and acknowledge that the world does not revolve around English only.
Even if your employer believes that English works for now, rest assured that there will come a time will even English is not enough to close that big money making deal. The questions you should be asking your employer is:
Even if they do speak English, have you ever thought, they may sign on the dotted line, purely because they have questions but are unable to communicate them in English?
Why not eliminate that client fear factor?
This willingness to make and openmind makes you a plausible candidate who now can say, I stand out from the rest.
Cultural differences are not easy to identify and understand.
Misunderstandings lead to destabilization which makes it difficult to start or even build working relationships. There are a few things you should personally take on board. Culture is not something you can just google before the start of a meeting in the hope that all goes well.
Anyone who has any business dealings in a foreign country will tell you, brush up on your client’s cultural ways of doing business or you’re in serious risk of causing offense and losing the deal.
Appreciating Cultural Values
One of the main factors involved in doing business globally is anticipating cultural values. How can one predict someone’s behaviour?
The truth is there is no one way. You can read up on the cultural differences or even ask someone from that country, if you’re lucky enough to know an expat. What you need to keep in mind is how to manage expressed feelings and emotions.
We all know that westerners tend to feel freer is showing feelings and emotions compared to asians.
The best thing you can do here is take each person as an individual. Like you would do so if you met someone new in your own country. To help you figure out where to take this potential partnership with your client is ask the right questions, for instance:
- It’s good practice to research the client’s location, where they operate from daily. Are they from the north or south, look at your country, you’ll find several differences. Apply the same logic here!
- Look at the person, are they 60 years old or a young 25 year old. How long have they been in the company or even industry? The extent of their experience and get a perspective on the challenges they might face by doing business with you.
- Be clear – During your first meeting, you should make it apparent that in case of any misinterpretations, they should inform you directly. If you make your position clear from the start, this helps avoid complicated discussions further down the line.
Understanding Language Differences
It’s very easy to forget that there is a language barrier here regardless of how well you speak the language. Be mindful that the person who you’re trying to negotiate with is not a native speaker. When providing important information, whether on paper, presentations and conference calls, cut out the slang and stick to simple words and phrases to avoid any miscommunication.
Always be crystal clear about what is expected on both sides. Expectations is one of the biggest reasons why partnerships fall apart. Intensions need to be transparent at every stage between every party. If you expect something by a certain date ensure that this is stated. It might mean repeating yourself a few times but knowing how things are done can avoid accidental offence.
Let’s talk about you
So you’ve understood that taking up a second language has great rewards and money, can help you bag that dream job and even stimulates the mind. Being bilingual gives you bragging rights and that confidence you can take with you anywhere.
So, which language to choose to enhance your career?
Rather than looking at the language that is in demand consider what industry or sector you want to go into first. Research the demands for the market and the countries they do business with or potentially looking to enter. A good reference could be the news, understand that economic trends and use that to determine what language you could potentially take up.
Next you need to fit language learning into your daily lifestyle and understand the financial aspects. You need to be sure about your goals and objectives from the beginning, are you looking to be an expert in the language or are you searching for those soft-skills.
This is important in order for you to choose the right method and get practical training
The Right Method – Based on your availability there might be one method that is more suitable than another. If you know you are someone who needs that one-on-one coaching then a class-room based method could be more fitting. However, if you’re able to focus whenever and wherever then a solution for you could be apps or there are plenty of online sites, guides and courses.
You should also consider if you’ll find a certificate to prove that you’re a qualified in that language. If so, look into if you could just self-teach and then take the exam or if you need to follow a certain criteria. The other option here would be to ask your employer to partially finance the course having already the basic’s under your belt.
Get practical training – We spoke about understanding cultures and differences earlier on and to demonstrate that you have an insight and could eventually deal with the real-life issues and challenges when doing business, you need to put in place or acquire some training when you interact with natives. Going overseas seems like the logical option to fully immerse yourself. However, if that’s not viable then you need to find another route. That sort of training can also be accomplished at home with meetup groups, couchsurfing, language exchanges. Furthermore with these types of techniques you will develop your communication skills.
There you have some of the benefits and advantages of learning another language to help boost your career prospects. It might take a lot of effort but the financial rewards can be substantial. You cannot deny the opportunities that could come your way if you put in the time and energy along with the success and fulfillment you will gain in the long-run.