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How to Highlight Language Abilities on a Cover Letter: Tips

How to Highlight Language Abilities on a Cover Letter: Tips

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Being able to speak a second or third language is undoubtedly one of the most useful and multi-industry skills to possess as a job-seeker.

Any company would value someone who can speak to clients or potential business partners from another country, so it is important to make this a highlight on a resume.

Can you also highlight this on a cover letter?


How to Highlight Language Abilities on a Cover Letter

First, decide whether the language ability is relevant to the job. While being multi-lingual should always be included on a resume, it should only be highlighted in a cover letter if it would be a major aspect of the job in question. Use paragraph-style formatting when including language ability.

To begin, it is important to review the functions of a cover letter vs the functions of a resume. Resumes are to detail one’s previous job history, and one’s skills.

A cover letter is written in a similar style as a letter that tells an employer why you are a good fit for the position in question.

Cover letters are kept to just a few paragraphs and should only include extremely relevant information.

They are not just summaries of the resume, but rather a more personal detailing of why they are qualified for the position. 

Because cover letters are not just a showcasing of all of one’s skills, any language abilities should not be included unless it would be a part of the job in the future.

Examples may include those who will be working or studying abroad in a foreign country, those who will work in translation, those in positions requiring international travel, or those who seek to become interpreters. 

Another reason to include a foreign language ability is if you are looking for a job in an area where that language is spoken frequently.

Spanish is common in southern states of the United States, and French is more common in the north.

Companies may put a greater value on these language skills if they frequently get customers who can better be served in their foreign tongue.


How to include language abilities on a cover letter

Language abilities should be included using paragraph-style writing. When including details about relevant working experience, you may include the language ability as a full sentence in the same paragraph. You may also create a new paragraph for it if knowing said language is integral to the job. 

Unlike in a resume, you do not need to include the dates of study for the language, or the dates for any jobs involving language skills.

Listing the amount of years studied or the level of fluency is plenty. 

A proper way to list language ability on a cover letter is as follows: 

I am writing to express my interest in the public health associate position listed on monster.com. With over 4 years of experience in the public service field and 6 years in management, I am certain that I would be an asset to the team.

I am fully fluent in Spanish and have experience with community outreach programs designed to help those who require assistance but do not speak English. 

You must not only tell them that you are proficient in a language, but tell them why that is relevant to them.

In this example, the employer can see that the language ability of the applicant was beneficial to their previous job.

You want to tell an employer how you could be useful to them and highlight the skills that will best showcase this.


Should you include intermediate language ability on a cover letter?

You should include intermediate language ability on a cover letter if it is relevant to the job which you are seeking. An intermediate level of language ability can likely be helpful to a company, but make sure that your level of fluency meets your employer’s needs before writing it.

If you think that your level is low to intermediate-low, then do not include it on a cover letter. It will not make that much of a difference on your daily work within that company, so it is ultimately a waste of space on your cover letter. 

Do not under any circumstance exaggerate your language ability on a cover letter.

If you can only say hello, goodbye, and numbers 1-10, this is not the place to be flaunting these skills.

There are many cases of employers switching to the mentioned language during the interview, only to find out the applicant cannot truly speak it.

Do not get caught up in a lie over language ability, and only include it if you can actually speak the language.

If you are currently studying a language, the employer may still appreciate it! That kind of information should be saved for conversations during the interview, however. 


Can you use bullet points to highlight language ability on a cover letter?

Cover letters are written in full-paragraph letter format. It is highly unusual to see the half-sentences or bullet points which are common on resumes. Cover letters should always use complete sentences, and tables or bullet points should not be used.

If you find yourself wanting to use bullet points on a cover letter, you are probably trying to cram in too much information which should be listed on the resume instead.

Choose only the most relevant points, such as language ability, and highlight those using paragraphs. 

A good tip if you find yourself inevitably trying to include too much information on a cover letter is to go back and edit your resume.

Cut out the extraneous and include the things you find yourself wanting to list in your cover letter in your resume instead.

Take a look at our top tips for what to put on your resume for ways to best do so.

Cover letters are your chance to really expand on the most relevant and important parts of your resume, so do not waste that opportunity by making short bullet points of all of your skills that you’ve already included on the resume.

Give the employer something to get excited about, and go get that job!