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When do you put languages on your CV?

 Language Learning Forum : Languages & Work Post Reply
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emk
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 Message 65 of 86
09 January 2013 at 6:45pm | IP Logged 
hrhenry wrote:
In 1999 I regularly saw job postings for sys admin positions requiring 10+ years Linux experience - something not even Linus Torvalds himself would have had. As a result, I rarely take a position description at face value.


Heh. I've seen a lot of those, too. That either means that (1) the hiring manager is ignorant and demands the impossible on a regular basis, or (2) that the HR department is a frustrating bureaucracy. If it's the former, it's a useful warning sign! The latter is just HR being HR. And of course, there's nothing wrong with sending an honest cover letter that says, "I only have 3 years experience, but I'd still be able to help you because X, Y, Z."

Then there's all those jobs that want "bilingual English/Spanish" for something like a dental receptionist. Honestly, it's probably overkill. For a lot of these jobs, a solid B1 with activated speaking skills would be able to do the job just fine after the first few weeks. After all, a receptionist has the same conversation 20 times a day—it's not like they'll need to toss together slick sales presentations in multiple languages. I've seen plenty of retail workers with native/B1 language skills in Montreal, and they do pretty well. Near-native bilingualism is rarely necessary for basic commerce, though B2 is nice if you need to ask and answer lots of questions about products.

Edited by emk on 09 January 2013 at 6:50pm

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emk
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 Message 66 of 86
09 January 2013 at 7:16pm | IP Logged 
geoffw wrote:
Yes, that's honest and accurate...but isn't it generally a really bad idea to spend a lot of space on your resume saying what you CAN'T do?


Well, does the employer have French customers or a division in France? If so, I'd err on the side of full disclosure in order to avoid nasty surprises during the interview. If the employer was relentlessly monolingual and I needed to keep everything on a single page, I might not mention language skills at all, because how's it going to help them?

But as a general rule, I've found nothing wrong with including negative information in a sales pitch. In fact, if you're an honest person competing with lying salesweasels, it's one of the smarter things you can do. If I were looking for a translator, and a candidate told me, "I can do a great job with manuals, but I'm not really an advertising copywriter," that's going to count very heavily in their favor. If the other candidate says, "Oh, sure I'm completely fluent, and I can translate anything on any subject, no problems!", who would you hire?
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hrhenry
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 Message 67 of 86
09 January 2013 at 7:42pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
If I were looking for a translator, and a candidate told me, "I can do a
great job with manuals, but I'm not really an advertising copywriter," that's going to
count very heavily in their favor. If the other candidate says, "Oh, sure I'm completely
fluent, and I can translate anything on any subject, no problems!", who would you
hire?

Most reputable translators do indeed list what their specialties/strengths are. It's
usually only the ones trying to break into the field that say they can translate
anything. Of course, they're found out soon enough, if they're even taken seriously at
all.

R.
==
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Serpent
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 Message 68 of 86
10 January 2013 at 12:35am | IP Logged 
I wonder if the "bilingualism" requirement is a case of not knowing what language learning is like (that it's not binary) and/or an inability to come up with a realistic and good-sounding description of the required level. An average monolingual employer won't think much of the level he needs nor would they mind if the requirement is an overkill.
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Stefan
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 Message 69 of 86
01 February 2013 at 3:11am | IP Logged 
What's your thoughts on a language you haven't studied and can't speak but still understand almost perfectly thanks
to the similarity with another language? In Sweden almost everyone understands Norwegian (it's more like a dialect
than another language) and I wouldn't dream about putting it on my CV when applying for a job in Sweden.
However, maybe it would be a good idea to mention when applying for a job in another country such as USA or
Germany?
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mrwarper
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 Message 70 of 86
01 February 2013 at 3:24am | IP Logged 
Stefan wrote:
What's your thoughts on a language you haven't studied and can't speak but still understand almost perfectly thanks
to the similarity with another language?...

Were you to reflect that on your CV, you'd list [much] higher CEFR or whatever scale levels for passive/comprehension skills (listening and reading) than for active/production skills (speaking and writing).

Edited by mrwarper on 01 February 2013 at 3:26am

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jeff_lindqvist
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 Message 71 of 86
01 February 2013 at 10:37am | IP Logged 
mrwarper - the thing here is that we don't have to speak Norwegian to Norwegians (nor they have to speak Swedish to us) - we just understand each other more or less perfectly, so in reality one probably wouldn't have to state active skills. And maybe not mention even the passive skills, but that depends on the job description.

If it included something like "a large part of our customers are from Norway", and you were a native speaker of Swedish, I don't see why you couldn't mention that you understand Norwegian, can converse with them without major problems etc.
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Ogrim
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 Message 72 of 86
01 February 2013 at 11:10am | IP Logged 
Jeff is right. To give a concrete example: To work in the service industry in Norway (like in restaurants, shops or hotels) you obviously need to speak Norwegian. However, there are thousands of Swedes working in these places in Norway, and obviously they do not speak Norwegian, they just speak Swedish. After a little while they learn to replace a few Swedish words with the Norwegian ones in the cases where they are really different or could lead to misunderstandings (as Norwegian "tyttebær" for Swedish "lingon", means lingonberry, or "gulrot" for "morot", meaning carrot.)

Now if you are in Spain and apply for a job where e.g. Swedish is asked for, as a Norwegian I would make it clear in my CV that I understand oral and written Swedish and can communicate with Swedes without any difficulty.


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