Sí, se habla español: Speaking Spanish as a Career Strength
Often, when thinking about career strengths, words like adaptability and agility come up. But have you ever considered how speaking multiple languages can be a strength that can help you score the career of your dreams?
Understanding the value of speaking a second, third or even fourth language can open opportunities for yourself you may not have thought possible. And knowing how to sell that skill on your professional journey can be particularly useful. This is especially true if you speak Spanish fluently, as Spanish is the second-most spoken language globally, second only to Mandarin. Some studies even predict that one-third of Americans will speak Spanish, either as a native or second language, by the year 2050!
We chatted with four Hispanic American Family Insurance agents and employees to gain first-hand insight on the benefits of being bilingual in the workforce, as well as how to best showcase your Spanish-speaking talent as a strength on your resume. ¡Vamos!
How Can Speaking Spanish Create Career Opportunities?
American Family Insurance Agency Owner, Leticia Guzman, may not have given her native fluency in Spanish much consideration when choosing her career path, but later she discovered just how powerful and useful it would be.
Leticia, who spoke Spanish as her primary language until the age of six, said, “For me, growing up in a Spanish-speaking household, I didn’t know the value of it because I didn’t know the difference. It’s like asking someone who has always had two arms, ‘How is it to have two arms?’ I didn’t understand how this would translate into an opportunity until later on.”
Little did she know just how great that opportunity would be.
Leticia always knew she wanted to help the community where she was born and raised, and she knew being an agency owner could help her do that. It wasn’t until she opened her agency doors and started gaining more clients from the Hispanic community that she realized the value of her bilingualism.
“We have a huge Hispanic community in Waukesha. Being able to tap into a different market and help the Spanish community was an entirely different ball game,” she said. “In the Hispanic community, people are very tight — everybody sticks together — we’re very loyal people in general. So when I did help someone, referrals came in leaps and bounds because that’s just what we believe in. It was a turning point for me and I never saw it coming. It opened up a lot of opportunity.”
Leticia’s business was booming at a rate that was not anticipated, in particular due to this new wave of clientele coming in. She admitted it did create a challenge for her, albeit a good one.
“When you’re growing your book of business and it’s growing at this rate with a ton of Spanish-speaking people, it’s a really good challenge because that meant we were growing and doing great things for our community. But I became the go-to and really the only person in the agency who could help this pond of people.”
So when Leticia went to bring on additional employees to help keep up with growing clientele — seven percent who speak only Spanish — she knew she was looking for someone who was fluent in both English and Spanish.
However, that requirement also really narrowed the candidate pool! Leticia shared that “finding a good quality person, first and foremost, is huge, but then to find somebody with an additional talent, it just makes things a little bit more challenging to find that perfect person.”
So, Leticia sought out the perfect candidate. And thanks to her ability to stay patient and vigilant, she was able to find the perfect fit in Adriana Promotor, her Customer Support Team Lead, having said, “We looked for a very long time for the right person — and she’s it. She’s our front line when it comes to the Spanish-speaking community of customers.”
Fernando moved to the US in August of 1993, when he was only nine years old. He said, “Within a couple of years, I was interpreting for my parents at school meetings and at their doctor’s appointments.”
Similarly to Jesus’s experience, translating for his parents was the catalyst for Fernando’s career path. “I always knew that I wanted to help people in their native language because I have seen how my parents struggled to communicate with others.”
And he sure is helping. Working in El Centro, Fernando said that about 80 percent of his daily calls are from Spanish-speaking customers. When it comes to speaking Spanish as a career strength, Fernando said, “Knowledge is power and knowing multiple languages gives you the power to help people in their own language and make them feel welcome.”
How to Feature Bilingual Skills on a Resume
So, now you know how speaking a second language can be a career strength that can help you land jobs that might not otherwise be open to you and take your business results to the next level. But how do you best showcase that skill in a way that stands out on a resume?
Fernando said to highlight your bilingual skills under the summary section to reach potential employers and put your skill up front and center. Yaniela echoed this idea. She said, “Being bilingual brings cultural enrichment and diversity to the work environment. Make sure you place your bilingual talent at the very top of your resume. You want to make sure this talent is not unseen.”
Along with highlighting it right away, Leticia said to promote your talent equally — if not more than — the position/professional title itself. And make sure to promote your professional title or degree as dual language. (E.g., dual-language marketing specialist.)
Other experts say that you can list this skill as its own section on your resume, labeling it Languages or Language Skills. Here you can add your proficiency level. (E.g., Spanish — Native/Bilingual.)
If you know the job is specifically looking for someone bilingual, make sure to include examples in your work experience section or portfolio to demonstrate your ability and put an emphasis on your dual language proficiency.
Whether the job description is specifically looking for someone bilingual or not, having your bilingualism featured on your resume can help you shine in a sea of applicants and be on your way to landing your dream job!
Already have an interview lined up? Awesome! Check out these tips for nailing your job interview.
Interested in Learning Another Language?
When you think about the fact that Spanish is the second largest language in the United States with over 33 million Spanish speakers, making the US the second largest population of Spanish speakers in the world, there’s no denying that being able to speak Spanish is an unrivaled asset.
Yaniela challenged, “Knowing this, why you wouldn’t want to broaden your horizon and help this vastly growing demographic?”
“There’s just so much added value. People make the world go round. If you have that additional value, you can network and communicate and grow and learn from an entirely different world. You can help a whole different pod of people that you may never have the opportunity to otherwise because of that language barrier. The more people you surround yourself with, the more you learn and grow as a human. You just naturally immerse yourself into a different culture. All of that can’t really be taught, you have to learn it on your own. That creates a different character in someone.”
If you want to learn a new language to help you excel or stand out in your career, Fernando said, “It’s never too late. With dedication and consistency, anything is possible.”
Career Growth Resources
Whether you’re just beginning your job search, looking to move upwards or pivoting to a completely new career, we have tips and resources to help you grow professionally with confidence. Check out our Career Growth Resources hub for professional development tools to help you grow and thrive in your career.