The Advantages of Being Bilingual in the Workforce

Being bilingual can help you make career connections.
Being bilingual can help you make career connections. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Although English has long been the language of business, globalization and Internet technology are changing that reality, according to "Forbes" writer Michael Schutzler. In today's interconnected business world, knowing a second language is becoming increasingly valuable. Not only does learning a second language help your employer; it also boosts your paycheck and expands your employment options.

You're More Competitive

Being bilingual can make you a more attractive candidate to recruiters. Schutzler notes that because businesspeople worldwide speak English, knowing the language no longer provides a competitive advantage on its own. What piques manager interest is an applicant who speaks English as well as another language. Multinationals like Sony and Starbucks know the importance of understanding local languages to succeed abroad. According to BNET writer Jessica Stillman, knowing multiple languages can even help you before you land an interview or have much work experience. "Fluent" is one of the top words that impresses recruiters reading entry-level resumes. Being bilingual helps during a recession, too. Even when overall hiring was low in 2009, CareerBuilder statistics reported by Stillman showed that 88 percent of companies planned to maintain or increase their efforts to attract multilingual candidates that year.

You're More Promotable

Once you've got the job, knowing how to speak more than one language makes you more promotable. It makes sense to have strategic planners who can speak more than one language, especially if one of your business' objectives is international expansion. According to an article by Laura Morsch posted on AOL Jobs, 31 percent of executives speak two languages. 20 percent speak three, 9 percent know four languages and 4 percent reported speaking more than four, according to a poll of 12,562 people who visited the Korn/Ferry International website.

You Make More

Learn a second language if you want a fatter paycheck. According to an article in "The Globe and Mail," even employees in English-speaking Canada see a salary advantage if they know French. Men make 3.8 percent more on average, while women make 6.6 percent more. In the United States, workers who know Spanish are in particularly high demand. AOL Jobs reports that bilingual employees can make anywhere between 5 and 20 percent more per hour than their unilingual counterparts. Those who work in bilingual government positions in California earn an extra $0.58 per hour.

You Can Help Reach New Markets

Those who know more than one language get to help their companies expand into new markets, both domestically and abroad. If you own a business, expansion efforts are even more personally rewarding, since the perks of expansion affect your own bottom line. The Latino market is large and growing in the United States, so hiring people who know Spanish is a promising growth strategy. According to U.S. Census Bureau data reported in 2009 by AOL Jobs, growth within this ethnic group made up half of America's general population growth. The same article estimated that Latino purchasing power was $700 billion in 2008, with the potential to reach $1 trillion by 2010.

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