Today’s job market is desperate for graduates who speak multiple languages.

“Languages are always good for us,” says Julia McDonald, head of talent acquisition for EMEA at Infosys. English is the company’s common language, “but our clients often want people that can speak their local language,” Julia says.

Mark Davies, employer relations manager at London’s Imperial College Business School, says there is growing demand for multilingual European language speakers at companies including BP, GE, Johnson & Johnson, and GSK, which have operations in emerging markets.

André Alcalde, an executive at Lojas Renner, Brazil’s largest fast-fashion retailer, speaks English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

“In a business world that is more internationally-connected,” says the HULT MBA student, “it is mandatory when building an executive career to be able to deal with different cultures.”

Nearly two-thirds of businesses in the UK want to recruit staff with foreign language skills. A survey by the business lobby group the CBI and education company Pearson found European languages are the most sought after: French (50%); German (49%); and Spanish (44%). Not speaking multiple languages could be a barrier to promotion, according to the British Academy’s Born Global research.

“We normally say English is a given, and another international language is required to be considered for international roles,” says Wendy Sleat, executive recruitment manager at Admiral, the FTSE 100 insurance group.

She adds: “We’re an international company so we need people who can work overseas and that people working at multinational US companies can add value and distinguish themselves by being multilingual — “possibly increasing their chances for global positions or leadership roles”.

A survey of 419 US employers by the University of Phoenix Research Institute found that 70% expect Spanish language skills to be in high demand over the next decade; 42% cited Chinese.

Being able to speak Mandarin Chinese is a clear advantage at CEIBS in Shanghai, says Yvonne Li, director of MBA career services.

She says: “With the growing integration of the global economy, employers — especially those with reach — need talented individuals who can work in a multicultural environment and lead multicultural teams.”

Enter language testing.

More and more testing a candidates language skills and ability is becoming a trend for companies who require not only employees who speak a language but employees who needs to speak at a certain level – not to mention red and write in that other language.

The message emanating from global employers and business schools — is that multilingualism may give you an edge in your ascent to the executive suite.

Source: Business Because/Seb Murray

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