When looking for a job in PR, how useful is the ability to speak a second language?

It can be very useful to have a second language when job hunting.

It can be very useful to have a second language when job hunting. Many more PR practitioners are working on global accounts today than they were 10 years ago. So with an additional language, and depending on the position you are applying for, you could have an edge over other applicants.

Languages such as Spanish, Mandarin, French, and German are most useful in today's market. It's also helpful if you have regional knowledge of the language that applies. For example, if you are fluent in Mandarin, and are also familiar with the culture, politics, and media in China, that could be an additional boost.

Be sure you tell the recruiter about the degree of your fluency and in which languages. A word of caution, do not overstate your ability to speak, read, or write a language. While you may not be given a language test, your abilities should you get the job may be put to the test and if you cannot deliver, not only is your job at risk, but you will also tarnish your professional reputation.

While the ability to speak a second language will only augment your experience and skill set for the join you are applying for, it can be one of those factors that puts you ahead of the other candidates.

Cathleen Graham is an HR consultant. She was most recently EVP of talent management at Ruder Finn.

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