As the world becomes a global marketplace, there has been a massive boom in the amount of organisations looking to expand into new territories in order to reach new customers and grow revenues.

There is no doubt that the world is fast becoming a smaller place and the development of communications technology globally has allowed businesses with multiple offices to become better connected both internally as well as with clients and customers worldwide. However, with opportunity comes challenge and as many SMEs grow and develop into larger multi-national corporations, the need for a more diverse and skilled workforce becomes more and more prevalent. Global companies need effective communication between local offices in order to operate effectively worldwide as well as highly skilled staff to communicate with customers in new markets. And how do we primarily communicate effectively with each other? Through a common language of course!

With a continuously shrinking world, it is becoming more and more important to know a second language. As a recruitment consultant specialising in both customer facing and office support roles, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of positions requiring the candidate to be fluent in a second European language, (be it French, German or Spanish to name just a few), particularly in the past few months. Learning a second language is not just for people looking to build a career in customer service or call centres but it is becoming more popular across all area of office work.

But despite the fact that Ireland has become a hub and headquarters for so many global organisations, as a nation it seems that we are far behind some of our European counterparts in terms of having a second language. A National Employer Survey in May 2015 found that 25% of employers indicated that they had a specific requirement for foreign language proficiency skills in their organisation. However, in the same survey over 35% of employers stated that languages was a skill lacking amongst the Irish workforce.

This shortage of supply and increase in demand for a second language got me thinking. What are the benefits, both personally and professionally, of being bi or multilingual? Here are 4 key reasons why we should all consider learning an additional language to boost your career prospects going forward.

Languages give the competitive edge for graduates

Foreign languages have been identified as a key skill in Accounting and Business Services, Banking and Financial Services, Engineering and Software Development. With the number of college graduates increasing simply having a degree is not enough. Employers are looking for that little something extra that really sets a candidate apart from the crowd. A second language is an excellent way to do this. Imagine going for an interview for a company with a strong presence in Latin America and being fluent in Spanish? This will definitely give you an edge over the competition.

Better Job Prospects Within Your Current Organisation

Companies are constantly trying to break their way into new markets, to expand globally and even to reduce costs by using foreign companies for services or supply of materials. Having the ability to communicate with these companies will only increase your employability. Not only will it increase your chances of finding a new job but you may also have better opportunities to progress and advance within your current organisation. For example, perhaps you’re fluent in French and work in a supply chain or purchasing role and your company are looking to expand into French speaking countries. As a fluent french speaker your manager will turn to you as you have the ability to negotiate with suppliers or manufacturers where others within your organisation would not. Even though we live in a globalised world where English is widely spoken that does not mean, that all employees feel comfortable doing business through English.

The Chance To Better Connect With Customers and Team Mates

This is a huge benefit of learning a second language, especially in a time where cultural fit is becoming increasingly important to companies. Speaking a second language builds an understanding for the culture and its people, and helps employees to better interact with others, even when speaking in English. Being multilingual also increases your networking skills. You have the added advantage of being able to connect and communicate with an entire country’s worth of people. As companies expand into new countries developing relationships with people from these countries will be crucial for a successful expansion. Communication, teamwork and ‘people’ skills are all very important criteria that hiring managers take into consideration when selecting candidates for roles that involve multiple markets. An ability to communicate with others in a variety of languages can only help your career prospects, particularly when working with global multinationals.

A chance to see the world and build a career.

One of the key attractions of working with global multinationals is the opportunity to see the world and new countries while building a career. Working with customers and suppliers from other countries definitely presents the chance to visit those countries and meet with the people that you would be in contact with day to day in your job. Senior management will be far more confident about sending a member of their staff abroad who can speak the local language of the customer, client or supplier. If you’re interested in spending some time working away from Ireland then why not increase the chances of that happening by having a second language in your armoury?

Conor McNiff

Based in our Athlone office, Conor specialises in the recruitment of permanent, temporary and contract positions within HR, Office Support & IT and Sales & Marketing. If you are interested in discussing your career options or need assistance with the recruitment of a role why not give Conor a call on 09064 90485 or connect with him on Linkedin.