Philosopher Roger Bacon said that Knowledge of languages is the gateway to knowledge. There is no doubt that this quote is still valid. Moreover, in many cases, it turns out that the ability to use a foreign language increases the chances of getting a job. Most often, recruiters indicate in their advertisements which languages (and at what level) you should know to apply for a job in a given company. This is in many cases a necessary condition, which may result from the international scale of the company’s operations or plans for future development.
If you are not convinced that the C1 level is the correct definition of your fluent English language skills in your CV, or you are wondering how the potential employer will want to verify it – the material below will dispel all doubts and make the language section in the CV will be properly prepared and that you will present yourself well during the interview. We will answer key questions like:
Where do I put the Language skills section in my CV?
Knowledge of foreign languages is a very important issue that may affect your future salary or position. Recruiters confirm that most candidates today remember to complete this section in their application documents, but often put it in the wrong place. What is meant by the wrong place mentioned? Most often, the foreign languages in the CV are described without distinguishing a separate section or are placed in Skills. Another mistake is to present your language knowledge at the end of your CV, especially if your application consists of more than one page.
So where should the Foreign languages head?
Regardless of whether you decide to present your CV in the form of a graphic CV or stick to the traditional approach, information about the level of foreign language skills must be in a place that the recruiter will be able to quickly notice. This section should have a separate title, for example, Knowledge of foreign languages . An interesting way to present the level of foreign languages is to define them with stars, dots, or other graphic elements.
However, it should be remembered that this method is less precise than the commonly accepted foreign language skills scale.
Moreover, the information about the knowledge of a foreign language may also be distinguished in the job description in the previous job or volunteer work, organization, or research club – if your duties were related to the use of the language as part of individual activities. For example:
As a copywriter, I was responsible for creating construction guides for the maintenance of the necessary documentation in English.
Depending on the industry in which you are looking for a job, you can add a portfolio of jobs that have been created in a foreign language to your CV. These can be blog articles, product descriptions, or excerpts from publications.
How to specify language proficiency levels in a CV?
Merely specifying which languages you know is not sufficient. You should also indicate your level of use of the language.
Language proficiency scale defined in one word
Your level of knowledge of a foreign language can be represented using dots or asterisks, which we have indicated above, and also use terms such as: communicative, intermediate, fluent. This form is understandable to the recruiter, but it does not fully reflect the real level of language knowledge. For some, communicative English will mean being able to introduce yourself and exchange views about the weather, while another person will define it much broader as a freeway of communicating on everyday topics.
Knowledge of B1, C2, A1 … the European System for the Description of Languages
When describing your language skills when compiling a CV, you can also use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Using the criteria of the level of spoken and written communication as well as listening comprehension of a given language, he assigns the knowledge of this language to specific, set levels. Levels A1 to A2 are basic, B1 to B2 intermediate, and C1 to C2 advanced.
At A1 level you can:
- introduce yourself and others;
- complete the questionnaire or form with the possible help of a person who knows the language
- talk on selected topics known to us – while maintaining the principle that the interlocutor speaks slowly and carefully, without diminutives or colloquial speech.
At A2 level you can:
- talk about everyday things like shopping, work, or home;
- talk about your surroundings and where you come from.
At B1 level you can:
- talk freely on topics that are familiar to us;
- communicate in situations like travel;
- describe your experiences and plans.
At the B2 level you can:
- easy to talk to a native speaker;
- to comment on abstract topics and topics related to the chosen specialization;
- to formulate conclusions on various topics, which are unknown to us.
At the C1 level you can:
- speak spontaneously and without any hesitation to the person who uses the language daily;
- change the topic of conversation fluently in professional, social, or educational situations;
- analyze complex texts and understand their meaning.
At the C2 level you can:
- understand the meaning of almost every topic discussed – both in speech and writing;
- enter into direct and natural discussions with the interlocutor, reacting to his statements and presenting your observations at the same time;
- understand the hidden message, even in very specialized topics.
If the employer already emphasizes in the advertisement that your future duties will include the preparation of reports in English or daily contact with the client in German, it can be assumed that he requires at least B1 level language knowledge. If you can boast of knowledge of the language at the advanced level C1 or C2, and the job you are looking for requires it, be sure to emphasize it in your application – this is one of the main features that will distinguish you from candidates and give you a chance to get your dream job.
How do you describe your knowledge of English, German and Swedish?
It happens that the company you are applying for a job requires you to send your CV in a foreign language. What phrases should I use in my CV to adequately describe my language level? Of course, you can describe it with the help of the European Framework of Reference for Languages already mentioned. However, if you want to use a verbal description, below we have prepared a few basic terms that will be useful if you are creating a CV in English, German or Swedish:
English CV levels
- English language level A1 – Beginner
- English language level A2 – Pre-Intermediate
- English language level B1 – Intermediate
- Language English level B2 – Upper-Intermediate
- Language English level C1 – Advanced
- Language English level C2 – Proficient
German language proficiency levels
- German A1 – Grundkenntnisse
- German A2 – Kommunikativ
- German B1- Mittelstufe
- Language German B2- Fließend
- German C1- Fortgeschritten
- German C2 – Sehr Fortgeschritten
Swedish-language-language proficiency levels
- Swedish A0 – Nybörjare,
- Swedish A1 – Elementär nivå
- Swedish A2 – Övre elementär nivå
- Swedish A2 – B1: Lägre medelnivå
- Swedish B1 – Mellanliggande
- Swedish B2 – övre mellanliggande
- Swedish C1 – Avancerad
- Swedish C2 – Skicklig
Grades language and certificates
When analyzing the foreign language sections in your CV, it is also worth mentioning the inclusion of information about obtained language certificates. This is proof that you have the skills certified by an official document. On the other hand, the person analyzing your job application does not always have full knowledge of all certificates available on the market. Next to the name of such a certificate (eg TOLES or FCE), it is worth referring to the level it designates or the specialization it covers. You cannot forget to indicate the date of obtaining the document. The correct notation will be:
Levels of language proficiency – CV can’t lie!
The information on your CV should be accurate in every section, including language skills. The employer can easily check if your English, which you have specified in your CV to a communicative level, is really at this level. Such verification often takes place in the first stage of recruitment, even before the interview. You may be asked to prepare a short analysis, article, or research in a foreign language. You should also not be surprised when the recruiter switches to asking questions in the language you declared in your CV during the interview. Often, when arranging the date of the recruitment meeting, the person responsible for examining your CV will inform you that the language proficiency level will be verified, but this is not a rule – be prepared for this stage of recruitment if the job advertisement indicates knowledge of a foreign language as one of the requirements.
Remember that knowledge of a foreign language is a very big advantage, which will undoubtedly be useful in many positions. Perhaps it is this factor that will decide about your career and thanks to it you will be able to get the job you have always dreamed of!