Why Language Shouldn’t Be a Job Requirement

Businessman holding English only signGreat organizations are made up of great people. When companies are looking for that next great hire, the first step is usually to post a job or contact a third-party recruiter. The ideal candidate, in theory, will be well-versed in the industry and able to hit the ground running.

Oh, and they need to speak the native language. Or do they?

In many online job postings, the phrase “must be proficient in verbal and written English” is normally encapsulated in a long list of required traits. However, in the recent discussion on communication as a key tool for employee engagement, we learned that the latest executive to join the team at Deutsche Bank wasn’t even a native German speaker. That’s quite uncommon, so why would they consider a candidate without one of the most basic skills for the job?

It’s simple, really. They hired Mr. Jain for his leadership and knowledge, not necessarily for his ability to speak German. If they had considered that the most critical item in the selection process, he would never have made it past the initial stages of consideration.

So, what are the lessons to be learned here?

This might not apply for every position, but for some roles, smart organizations can consider candidates who may not have the ideal language skills, but possess the key experience and skills needed for that role. Then the organization can provide language training to this individual to build the language skills needed to perform the job.

As the economy continues to expand globally, one of the most valuable differentiators for companies continues to be their people. For organizations looking to be world-class, they want to hire world-class people. That process knows no geographic, cultural, or language barrier. Monolinguism is a threat to any organization looking to succeed in a global marketplace. This short podcast examines that phenomenon and how organizations can leverage and capitalize on strong employee language skills.

In the end, it’s all about finding the right talent at the right time. The organizations that are poised for success don’t allow language barriers to dictate who they hire. They look at true skills and qualifications and hire based on that criteria.

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