If you’re looking for a raise or promotion this year, you don’t need to search for extreme ways to expand your resume. Instead, consider learning a new language. Here are six that may open up new doors for you.
If you’re a native English speaker, this is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you (should) have an excellent grasp of the most spoken language in the world. On the other, you’re less likely to feel that you need additional languages to succeed personally and professionally.
Sure, you can sail by pretty comfortably knowing English, but if you want to steer the course of your career instead of being at the mercy of the winds, knowing a second language is essential.
Don’t be under any illusions: learning a language isn’t a short term plan. Mastering an additional language can take many years. However, if you’re serious about wanting to enjoy the view from the top of the career ladder, there are few better ways to get there.
Which language should you learn?
Everyone knows that having a second language makes you a more appealing job candidate, but which languages are the most likely to help you get a better job? The answer hinges on both where in the world you are and the industry you’re in.
These six major languages that could fatten your paycheck: (Click here to tweet this list.)
The world is slowly accepting that China will soon be one of the the world’s major superpowers. China has strict laws governing business and trade, and so the language is a highly sought-after trait in these industries. In addition to being helpful for business, the language is becoming increasingly useful for working in finance and economics.
While it’s fair to say the days of French being the lingua Franca are long gone, the language of love still has global significance, with international organizations such as the EU and UN using it extensively. French can be useful in a number of artistic industries, but a knowledge of the language in fashion will open many more doors.
Spanish has more native speakers than English after travelling from its homeland to much of South, Central and even North America. Businesses keen to reach Spanish-speaking consumers will consider Spanish a nice bonus on a resume, and many other careers value a fluent communicator. The importance Obama placed on reaching the Hispanic electorate in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections is just one example of the growing importance of the language in politics.
The Middle East is one of the wealthiest regions in the world, which mean Arabic is useful for business and trade – particularly as the economy diversifies to become less reliant on gas and oil. The civil service, journalism and tourism are just a few other areas where Arabic could improve your job prospects.
While German doesn’t have the same global reach as languages such as English, Spanish or French, it’s the most spoken native language in the European Union. This means it’s one of the most useful languages for any business looking to trade with Europe. German is also the second most commonly used scientific language, so if you’re interested in a medical or research career, consider learning German.
Japan was once ubiquitous with technology, and while many areas of the world are catching up with the land of the rising sun, the home of Sony and Honda is still a formidable force. This is especially true when it comes to robotics, which is estimated to be worth more than a million jobs and close to $70 billion in revenue by 2025.
A living language or a working language?
While learning a new language will help improve your job prospects, this doesn’t have to be the deciding factor for choosing a particular language. If you love taking vacations in France, then learning French will make your holidays even more enjoyable. If you’ve been interested in anime or Harajuku culture since you were a teenager, becoming fluent in Japanese will allow you explore these interests in incredible depth. Being happy at work is important, but so is being happy in your personal life, too.
Having an interest in language that goes beyond the 9-5 will make you more likely to eventually master it, and in turn, earn a higher wage.
Stephen Pritchard works for 7Brands, a one-stop translation agency with expertise in over 200 languages.