6 ways learning a second language helps you get ahead in your career

Being able to speak a second or third language shows a lot about who you are as a person—from your character to your work ethic and ability to commit to a challenging task at hand.

It also shows that you’re willing to adapt and open to new learning possibilities. 

The great Italian movie director Federico Fellini once said: “A different language is a different vision of life,” implying that learning another language is not about just learning new words but about learning different ways to think.

Learning a new language can positively impact your life, not only from a personal and social perspective but also from a professional one.

Here are TK reasons why learning a new language—whether it’s your second, third, or maybe even fourth—could help you advance in your career in unexpected and exciting ways.

Greater chance of getting noticed

“Some companies run their business on a global level, and knowing a second language can help candidates get the job faster,” explains Branka Vuleta, founder of legaljobsite.net. It can also put them an advantage compared to other candidates, as they will be able to help their company scale faster by communicating with global partners or managers in other branches.

Increased chances of getting a job abroad

Going to another country for work can be beneficial both in a professional and personal way.

When we travel, we inevitably broaden our experiences and get valuable insights into how people function and live in another environment and context.

According to Vuleta, having employees who traveled a lot also helps companies hire and retain more diverse talent, as they are more likely to understand and communicate effectively with people from different backgrounds.

Furthermore, sometimes it’s cheaper for companies to relocate their existing employees who know all ins and outs of the job to another branch than to hire new employees.

A good chance for higher pay

“Sometimes local market salaries are not as interesting as the ones offered on a global level,” explains Vuleta. “Candidates who know a second language can leverage their skills, land a job in a foreign company, and get higher pay than if they worked in a local market.”

According to travel blogger and digital nomad Philip Weiss, you will also have a considerable advantage over other prospects when looking for a job, and when you get that job, you’ll be able to earn even more money, as language skills, in many cases, lead to hiring bonuses and increased salaries.

It expands your networking opportunities exponentially

Parviz Malakouti is a U.S. immigration lawyer who has learned Persian, French and Spanish as an adult. “An unexpected benefit of having learned Spanish has greatly helped my career,” he explains. “I am able to network and connect with a far greater number of foreign lawyers and discuss legal matters in their language (Spanish).”

It may come as a surprising ice breaker

Learning German actually helped Jane Kovalkova, CMO of Chanty early on in her career when she was applying for a marketing manager position in an agency. “I listed it as a language that I know pretty well and in the interview, he ended up talking to me in German for a bit just for fun. I never thought much of it until I got hired and he admitted that it was one of the main reasons he hired me!” she shared.

“As a general matter, being able to speak someone’s native language tends to be a very powerful icebreaker in both personal and professional situations,” adds Malakouti. “That element was a bit unexpected when I started learning foreign languages in earnest in my late teens.”

It strengthens your long-term memory and decision-making

If you think all of those possibilities for career advancement isn’t enough reason for you to learn a new language, consider that language learning is good for further developing your brain. “Research shows that there are many cognitive benefits to being multilingual, including improving your long-term memory, strengthening your decision-making, and creating a quicker thought process,” adds Weiss.