How Can Learning A Second Language Help Advance Your Career?

In an era defined by globalization, gone are the days when careers were confined to local boundaries. Today, with businesses expanding their horizons and exploring new markets, the workforce is seamlessly integrating across borders, cultures, and language barriers.

Within global companies, employees fluent in more than one language are often considered for prime leadership roles, while many job listings nowadays consider a second language as a desired — if not essential — skill. 

Imagine being in bustling Tokyo, closing a business deal in fluent Japanese, or leading a team in Mexico City with a masterful command of Spanish — very real doors open up when you add another language to your skill set. Whether you're taking Portuguese classes in Washington DC, or Japanese courses in Tokyo, learning a second language enhances your career prospects. It's not just about words; it's also about connecting with diverse cultures and markets. You become adaptable and open-minded, qualities employers value. Speaking another language gives you a competitive edge, opening doors to new business opportunities. 

The benefits of bilingualism extend beyond job listings, however: learning a second language could be integral to intercultural communication, enabling effective relationship-building with overseas stakeholders and accelerating business growth.

Let’s explore how mastering a second language can enhance your career prospects.  

Increasing job opportunities

With the business world becoming more globally connected — almost 7 in 10 small-to-medium Australian businesses plan to be operating outside the country by 2027 — the demand for bilingual and multilingual professionals is increasing. And considering that remote work is now an established practice within many organizations, there are theoretically more opportunities for employees to work for international businesses.

Job candidates who can communicate in more than one language are likely to have their pick of significantly more vacancies than those who can’t since many employers will value this highly as a skill. Of course, multilingualism is essential for certain roles — an interpreter or foreign language tutor, for example — but it may also open up more opportunities in areas such as business analysis, customer support, marketing, and human resources.

Expanding Horizons through Remote Work Platforms

In addition to the valuable career advantages that mastering a second language can offer, another contemporary trend is significantly impacting the way we work: remote work. The rise of remote work platforms, such as Remote Wokr, has further transformed the employment landscape and can synergize with the benefits of bilingualism in advancing your career.

Remote work platforms connect job seekers with opportunities from around the world, enabling professionals to contribute their skills to international businesses without the constraints of geographical boundaries. This evolution in work culture complements the interconnected nature of our globalized economy, where multilingual professionals are in high demand.

By pairing your proficiency in a second language with the flexibility of remote work, you open doors to a wider array of job opportunities. Imagine engaging in a video conference with a team in Berlin while utilizing your language skills to navigate cultural nuances and build rapport, all from the comfort of your own home.

Making your resume stand out

Today’s job market is increasingly competitive, with Forbes reporting that the average number of applicants for a single position is a staggering 118. With only around 2-3% of those applicants likely to be invited to an interview, most resumes submitted to hiring managers will be consigned to the rejection pile. This level of competition means it’s increasingly difficult for candidates to stand out in a crowded field of job applicants.

Bilingualism is one way applicants can ensure their resumes catch the eye. Even if the role doesn’t specifically require a second language, it’s often a desirable skill that can make a candidate more attractive when compared with a monolingual applicant. If an employer was choosing between two applicants with similar experience and job-relevant skills, for example, the one who speaks multiple languages may get the nod over the other. 

Strengthening soft skills

While learning a second language often has benefits that are very specific to a job profile, it can also help to enhance ‘soft’ skills that demonstrate your value to an employer in less direct ways. For example, language learning may be associated with a commitment to self-improvement and suggest a high level of adaptability — important qualities that are likely to be viewed favorably by an existing or prospective employer. 

In fact, many experts have made a link between bilingualism and improved cognitive ability, with those who speak more than one language likely to be better at paying attention, switching between tasks, and solving complex problems. Bilingualism may also be associated with a higher degree of creativity, as well as an increased ability to hold on to information through memory. 

Opening up development opportunities

While bilingualism can be a significant advantage when applying for a new position, it can also enhance your career prospects by facilitating faster career advancement within your current role. For one thing, your ability to speak more than one language may increase your chances of being put forward for — and securing — internal promotions, especially if the role requires you to communicate with international stakeholders.

If you’re working at a multinational company, for example — or at least one aiming to expand globally — knowing how to speak multiple languages is likely to be viewed as a valuable skill for senior-level employees and managers. And if you’re able to translate or interpret discussions between global business partners, you may be invited to take on additional responsibilities that add valuable, career-advancing experience to your resume. 

Building trust with clients and partners

With the business world now increasingly global in nature, it’s essential for companies to build relationships — and crucially, trust — with their international colleagues, clients, and business partners. It’s also vitally important for winning new business and recruiting new talent from overseas.

When it comes to building trust, knowing how to speak someone’s native language can help to create an instant rapport, making that individual feel more comfortable, more understood, and crucially more valued. Misunderstandings and misinterpretations can harm business relationships, while clear communication can prevent costly mistakes.

Knowing a second language is advantageous in these situations because it helps you to understand cultural nuances and bridge language gaps. This not only makes you incredibly valuable to your organization, but it can facilitate business growth — and a more successful business often leads to greater career opportunities for its employees.

Boosting your earning potential

Not only can learning a second language aid your career development, but it can also help you to earn more money. Consider this: multilingual employees stand to earn between 5% and 20% more than their monolingual counterparts, particularly if translation or interpretation is an important part of the role. 

Even so, simple economics dictate that bilingual or multilingual employees — who represent a smaller percentage of the overall employment market — are often in high demand, meaning employers are typically willing to pay handsomely for their services. And while a bilingual role often pays more, a bilingual candidate may be able to negotiate a higher salary even when it’s no more than a desirable skill.

Whichever way you spin it, developing fluency in more than one language is a desirable — and sometimes essential — skill, especially in the context of our steady march towards globalism. With many businesses already operating across borders, and others pushing for global expansion, learning a new language from any of the best interpretation services in your area can enhance your career prospects by making you more attractive to recruiters and more valuable to your current employer.