Common mistakes linked to languages in resumes

This section is the poorest one ever in most resumes. Candidates mistakenly stop at listing the languages they master… or think they master:

Chinese, English Spanish.

It is always good to list the languages in an alphabetical order.

The worse mistake is made, when candidates say nothing about this section. Instead, the “Languages” part of the resume can be used to impress the interviewer, either by putting some important details in it or through talking about what you can do with those languages.

On your resume you need to:

  • List the languages you master,
  • Avoid adding languages you like but know very little about,
  • Put what you can do with those languages (presentations, writing reports, translation, or teaching).

Here is an example:

Arabic, English & French: Translation, presentations, teaching & public speaking.

the distinction is highly palpable between the two examples. The second one says much about your linguistic skills, while the first one can go unnoticed.

When you talk about the languages you speak, you need to:

  • Respect the dialects you master and do not put in your resume. Some dialects are very needed in sales jobs and jobs with contact with customers,
  • Keep using the language which the interviewer uses to ask the question. Some candidates switch to other languages to show they speak them,
  • Tell the interviewer that you can translate catalogs, prepare & deliver presentations, etc.,
  • Let them know what languages you are learning.

Remember that you can add any certificate you get in this section. Please see this example:

English: CELTA
French: TEF 

One last advice is to make sure that all your resume is written in one language. During the copy/paste process, some job seekers chose a CV template in French, remove the info from it, and fill it with details in English, without changing the section titles. The result is:

Expériences Professionnelles:
2009 – 2013: Teacher of English at BTMSD language school – Rabat, Malta

Does this show you how much this section can tell about you, and how useful it is to make your impression stronger?

***If you do not speak a language well, please try not to include it on your CV. You may look like the lady in this video.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *