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Ask James Caan – Issue 111

Written by Kimberley Startup | September 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

James Caan Online RecruitmentDear Member,

Standing out in today’s highly competitive job market has become an increasingly difficult task. So how do you showcase your talents when there are so many other candidates applying for the same job?

This week I received an email from Sheila. Following two enjoyable roles that were cut short for company and personal reasons, Sheila is back to the job hunting grind stone, but is yet to have any success.

In addition to her administrative background at the Office of National Statistics and the Job Centre Plus, Sheila is also fluent in both English and French. Struggling to land her next opportunity, she asked me if I had any tips to help her in her job search.

Sheila, I appreciate your concerns – finding a job in today’s candidate-rich, job-short market is difficult enough, not to mention your additional circumstances meaning you were unable to stay in your previous role. But don’t panic, it’s certainly not all doom and gloom.

In order to succeed in today’s market, you must demonstrate your value that will ultimately put you ahead from your competition.

From looking at your CV, Sheila, I can see you have amassed some great experience, including your commercial experience and volunteering. What really stands out to me, however, are your language skills.

Today, communication is an employer’s number one requirement. Your chances of a successful job search will be greatly increased by this.

Especially in light of increasing cultural diversity, language skills are critical to many organisations’ success. As such, for those who can speak an additional language, there is a whole world of opportunities that you can explore.

Have you considered what type of career path you would like to pursue? Those who are fluent in a second language are often able to secure well paying jobs. This is typically because of their ability to bridge the language barrier and get things done simply, effectively and correctly.

You mentioned you liked working with people. Perhaps you should consider a career in teaching? You will be combining your passion for helping and working with others, whilst sharing your own knowledge and skills.

With the value of language skills in mind, Sheila, I suggest re-looking over your CV. Writing an impressive resume includes demonstrating your value, including your ability to speak French and English.

Many companies prefer bilingual applicants for certain positions, and you can increase your chances of securing a job by accurately describing your foreign language skills on your resume.

Create a section entitled ‘foreign language skills’. Make the heading bold so it stands out. In this section, briefly describe your language skills, such as reading, speaking and listening and include your level of proficiency.

In addition to this, why not give your application the edge and set up a YouTube channel to show off your language skills to potential employers? Demonstrating expertise and a unique approach as a job seeker is an ideal way to get yourself noticed by potential employers.

If you haven’t done so already, I suggest exploring some language specific job boards. Sites such as, and share vacancies that are aimed solely at attracting linguists.

Does anyone else have any tips for how Sheila can improve her job hunting strategy and demonstrate her language skills? If so, please share them within the group below.

James Caan

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