Canada is a multilingual country. Aside from English and French as its two official languages, the extremely diverse culture means there are over 200 languages spoken in workplaces throughout all 13 provinces and territories. In fact, while a 2015 Workopolis study found that 60% of Canadians believe knowing multiple languages is essential, they were split between whether or not English and French are vital to the mix. Why, specifically should you care about learning a second (or third) language if you haven't already? Here are just five reasons...
There are More Job Opportunities The same Workopolis article that summarized the study above noted that 11% of their jobs published at the time required fluency in both English and French. At Eagle, we also regularly see this requirement, especially in areas like Ottawa/Gatineau -- the National Capital Region where most Federal Government jobs require knowledge of both official languages -- and Montreal, possibly the Canadian city with the largest English/French mixture (on top of the city's multi-cultural mosaic).
Your Resume is More Appealing to Recruiters Even without a specific job available, recruiters still hold resumes that state bilingualism a little closer. That's because they're well-aware that they have clients who value the skill and the many benefits that come with it (see below for more of those benefits). If you want to jump to the top of a recruiter's list, add fluency in multiple languages to your skills (and be able to back it up).
It's a Differentiator Not just when comparing resumes, but when comparing multiple candidates throughout the entire job search process, being bilingual is often a distinct differentiator against your competitors. There will be situations when you come to the end of a client interview and the hiring manager must decide between you an equally qualified IT contractor. Knowing that extra language may push you to the top and get you the job.
You Will Build Better Relationships The Canadian IT industry has a reputation of being diverse as professionals come from around the world to work here. There is no way that you will learn every language that all of your co-workers know; however, just having empathy for the complexities of languages and communication barriers will work wonders in how you interact and build relationships with your peers. In addition to building stronger teams, you will also form better relationships than your competitors with recruiters and clients.
You Become an Overall Better Worker You may not know it, but in general, people who know multiple languages perform better at work. As we touched on in the previous point, having the empathy and understanding of another language naturally allows you to view different perspectives, even your perception of time. In addition, studies have shown that people who are multilingual are better equipped to process information and are better at multitasking.
If you're reading and understanding this post, then it's clear you already know English. Do you know any other languages? If so, do you believe it has helped your career thus far or has potential to open more doors in the future? Please share your experiences in the comments below. We'd love to hear everything from the benefits, the challenges and the techniques you've used to improve your language skills.