How to Showcase Your Language Skills on a CV Correctly

Sep 21, 2020

Your CV is a crucial document that showcases your skills and talents to a prospective employer. The first step towards landing an interview with a hiring manager is to have a CV that can accurately reflect your potential and let them see what you can add to their company.

While you may be able to impress them during the interview with your wit and charm, first, you need to be able to impress them with all the good skills to have on a CV. As such, it should be written with a sense of purpose and must have character. 

While updating your CV or developing one for the first time, it is important to add your language skills on CV.

While individuals may think that updating the languages section in the CV is easy, they must remember that this section can significantly impact your application.

More and more companies are going global and are, therefore, interacting with people who may or may not speak a common language.

A candidate with adequate levels of language proficiency on CV, as such, is always a valuable addition to their team. 

Before listing the languages you’re proficient in, you may want to consider what to include and exclude. Read on for some tips on how to list languages on CV correctly. 

1. Be Relevant

The primary reason you include language on CV is to make your employer aware of your knowledge.

It can make you stand out from the other candidates, and your language skills may help the company expand its reach and business opportunities. As such, you need to be able to assess your language skills and describe it as precisely as possible.

Are you fluent in reading and writing the language, or do you only speak the dialect? Once you’ve assessed yourself, it is best to be honest in your CV and not oversell yourself.

If you haven’t already, it is recommended to take a language proficiency test to assess yourself accurately. After doing so, if your skills are at or below pre-intermediate levels A1-A2, it’s best not to include them in your CV.

If your levels are above Intermediate (B1) to Fluent (C2) or Native, you can add those languages to your application. 

Chances are your company is looking for a person who not only speaks the language but can also correspond with others over email. If you are aware of such requirements, make sure to include them in your application. 

2. Adding your languages on CV

One might be wary about where to include the CV language skills to best showcase their proficiency. The best place to include your knowledge on several dialects is on your CV’s ‘Skills’ section.

In the skills section, you include your knowledge of features other than your education and work experience. 

This is the section where you subtly sell yourself by highlighting the strengths that make you stand out from the rest of the candidates. It can include your language levels as well as any additional courses you’ve enrolled in, the certifications you’ve earned or if your work has been published in the media. Where to include the skills section in your CV can be a topic of speculation. Here are a few tips to go about that: 

At the top: 

If your knowledge of a language is of a top priority to your employer and is one of the job’s primary requirements, you can add your language on CV at the top. Doing so assures that a hiring manager knows of your proficiency without diving deep into your CV. 

At the bottom: 

If your language levels CV are simply an added feature to your CV, you may want to include it at the CV’s bottom. Alternatively, you can add it to your Education section if your language doesn’t serve an essential role in your application. 

Separation section: 

If you are bilingual and are proficient in other languages besides your native dialect, you may be better off by adding a separate section called ‘languages’. This can highlight your potential as a bilingual candidate, capable of conversing with global businesses. 

3. Experiences with language

An added benefit of having CV language skills is the ability to demonstrate to your employers why and how you’ve used the knowledge of such dialects in real life. If you have proactively used your language proficiency in working with foreign-speaking dignitaries or have experience translating documents, add them to your CV.

It is a bonus that can give your hiring manager a better idea of your abilities. You can also add your experiences as a volunteer in global projects, a summer job or a student exchange program you were part of if it is relevant to you. 

4. Add evidence

While adding such relevant experiences on your language proficiency levels CV, do make sure to include how long you’ve studied the language and whether you did so academically.

If you studied it yourself, you might want to take a proficiency test to let your employers confirm your fluency levels. Official certifications, such as a proficiency test results, are best to include in your CV.

You can add your certifications to the ‘skills’ section where you mention your proficiency in particular dialects. You can also add them to the ‘awards and certifications’ section that is usually included at the resume’s bottom. 

Language skills on a CV: Summary

Your CV can make or break your application. Since this is an important document that speaks volumes about you before your hiring manager meets you in person, you must take the time to perfect it. Each job requires a different application; as such, it’s best to tailor your CV to fit the job description better.

Listing all your skills is a bonus but make sure that you’re honest in your CV. Do not list out talents that you don’t have. Even the best candidates can blunder and lose out on their ideal jobs by lying on their CV. 

The article has been written by Laura Garbers, an expert in the field of career coaching at CraftResumes. With her professional experience of over 20 years and ties to the job industry, she has helped aspiring employees land their dream jobs.

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