Every single day there thousands of Americans are forced to confront the dread of unemployment after unexpectedly losing their jobs in this deepening recession. With companies of all sizes still reluctant to hire new employees, the typically arduous job search has become an even taller hill to climb. Highly qualified professionals in all markets are actively pursuing a limited number of open positions, which means you need to think outside of the box to set yourself apart and pull to the head of the pack. With so many candidates to choose from, many of which possess extremely similar qualifications and experience, hiring managers and human resource departments are looking for people who stand out and a bilingual background is a great head start. Employees who are fluent in two or more languages are an extremely valuable commodity to companies of all variety, from convenience stores and restaurants to worldwide corporations. If you are considering the addition of another language to your employment repertoire, the growing list of advantages of being bilingual in the workplace are definitely intriguing.
Businesses and bottom lines have been battered and beaten during the last few years, which means managers and executives must constantly decide which of their employees are expendable and which are essential. Flexibility is a key component for anyone hoping to emerge from today’s job market, because if your boss is suddenly forced to divide the branch and send employees to Montreal, a working knowledge of the French language makes you a far more useful asset than an Anglophone. When your division is outsourced to Shanghai, the company you work for will be glad to keep you on board if you happen to speak Chinese. Being bilingual in the workplace also puts you on the fast path to promotion, because most executive positions require travel to foreign countries in the name of growth and top companies prefer well rounded people for prestigious positions. In a business climate defined by ruthless pragmatism, the languages you have mastered are simply supplements to your skillset, additions which position you to survive layoffs and restructuring.
Being bilingual also means that you will be capable of providing better service to a much wider market. America’s demographic landscape is ever the melting pot it has been described as, and nearly every business is better served by increasing their accessibility to a more diverse audience. When you are competent and confident in your ability to speak Spanish, for example, native Spanish-speaking customers and clients will be more comfortable and the lines of true communication will be more easily fostered. If you work at a resort or in customer service but choose to remain monolingual, dealing with tourists from a variety of European locales can be maddening indeed. Taking the time to learn the intricacies of Italian, German or Dutch can be a bit of an investment to be sure, but you will be pleasantly surprised with the returns when you find yourself ably serving customers from across the Old Continent.