Before you start to study a foreign language for an international career it is important to answer some questions as to what your motivation is, where you want to work, and what your other marketable skills are. In the international business sector, it is increasingly evident that speaking a second or a third language is now regarded as a common skill. To increase the chances of getting hired, it is essential that speaking other languages is included in a resume. While speaking other languages prepares you for an international career, you have to be sure that the decision to learn a new language is clear.
In most international business positions, fluency in the English language is a must, since it has become a very dominant language internationally. However, aside from English most companies are also ardently looking for staff members who are able to speak an additional foreign language or two. If you only speak one language, how do you decide which foreign language to learn and is it actually necessary?
Decide where you want to work
In various regions around the world, knowing how to speak the local language is imperative, if you want to be employed locally. In Haiti and Francophone Africa for example, you must be fluent in French before you can gain employment. In Latin America, it is necessary that you are a fluent Spanish speaker.
Still, there are many job opportunities around the world where proficiency in English is a requirement, therefore it is necessary for you to identify in which country you want to gain employment because while learning another language is beneficial, in this instance, it will not make a difference whether you are a monolingual, bi-lingual or multi-lingual.
How high a competitive edge will speaking another language give you
Look at the job market and see if speaking a local language will give you a competitive edge. There are still many places where you can find a job that does not require you to know the local language as long as you meet all the job requirements, although speaking the local language will definitely give you an advantage over competition. If you are looking for a job in the Middle East, it is advantageous to know Arabic.
There are countries that lack qualified professionals who are able to speak the local language. In Angola and Mozambique, professionals who speak Portuguese would be welcome, in much the same way that in Indonesia, it is to your advantage if you speak Bahasa Indonesia. If you like to work in Pakistan, be sure that you speak Urdu whereas if you are looking for work in Haiti, it would be better to learn Haitian Creole first.
Eyeing a post in the United Nations System
If you are eyeing a career in international diplomacy or close to it, a staff position in the United Nations requires that you are fluent in the English language as well as proficient in one or two other official languages of the U.N. In all of the agencies of the U.N., this is a rule that is strictly followed although there could be some exceptions for contract work or positions that are difficult to fill.
Commitment to become fluent in another language is beneficial in today’s international professional setting. You need to be a master in the language so that you are able to conduct your work in your chosen language. Could you see yourself asking for directions, negotiating contracts, leading a presentation, or handling delicate issues in a language that is not your own? Speaking a foreign language at a conversational level is not enough to get you a job that requires proficiency in another language. What companies need are people that are qualified for the job as well as near fluent in their skills in a foreign language. Be sure that you also do not forget that your other marketable skills are above average, when you want to seek an international career.