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Do you want to mention language skills on your CV? That's how you do that!

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Do you want to mention language skills on your CV? That's how you do that!

  • CV
  • · September 19 2022
  • · 4 min read
Mention language skills on your CV

Table of contents

In this blog we explain exactly how you can mention your language skills on your CV in a professional way. What's the best way to list your language skills on your CV? Where on the XV do you place the language skills part? Is it even necessary to mention this part on the XV? You can read the answer to these and other questions in this blog!

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When is it good to mention your language skills on your CV?

Adding the language knowledge component is always recommended! Even if it is not specifically requested in a vacancy, there is a chance that you will encounter foreign languages in your daily work. Think, for example, of English-language (computer) systems or speaking to a customer who speaks a different language. It is nice for an employer to know that such a situation does not immediately cause problems.

Where on the CV should the language knowledge part be placed?

That differs. We always advise candidates to state the most relevant information as high as possible on the CV. Does the vacancy specifically ask for language skills? Then that is probably part of the selection criteria and you want this to appear as prominently as possible. This way the employer immediately sees that you are suitable! Are you not (specifically) asked about knowledge of a foreign language? Then you mention it, but it is probably less important, so you can place it less high on the CV.

Which languages do I mention on the CV?

All languages that you have sufficient command to use in a professional setting. So do not mention a language of which you only know a few words, because that has no added value for an employer. As a waiter in a restaurant, you should at least be able to take an order.

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Tip!

In addition to foreign languages, always state your native language, or native languages if you were raised bilingual

Best way to list languages on your CV

There are several ways in which you can present language knowledge. We will explain these further below. If the vacancy specifically asks about language skills, take a good look at how people indicate what level is expected. It is best to indicate your knowledge according to the same methodology. For example, is French at B2 level required? Then make sure that you also indicate your French knowledge by means of the CEFR standard.

In general, you want to perform your languages that you master in a short and sweet way. Make it visual! By making it visual, you make it very easy for an employer / recruiter to get a good picture of your language skills.

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Most common languages on a CV

  • English

  • German

  • French

  • Spanish

  • Chinese

The order in which you present your language knowledge is based on relevance. Is it important that you master the French language? Then state this first. The same goes for all other languages.

You are free to choose how you present your languages. Be creative! Fortunately, there are many options that you can choose from. Your most common ways are:

  • Stars

  • Bubbles

  • Standard terminology

  • International standard

Standard terminology

There is such a thing as a standard terminology that you can use to indicate your language level. Use the following language levels:

  • Native language

  • Excellent

  • Good

  • Reasonable

Language

Level

English

Native

French

Excellent

German

Excellent

Spanish

Good

Chinese

Good

International CEFR Standard

Are you applying for an international company? Or do you make your CV in French? Then we recommend that you state your language level based on international standards. Also known as Common European Framework of Reference, or abbreviated as CEFR.

CEFR distinguishes between six different language levels:

A-level

A1 level: beginner

  • You are able to understand basic concepts and expressions

  • You are able to introduce yourself and ask questions to find out personal information

  • You are able to interact as long as the conversation is slow and clear

A2 level: elementary

  • You are able to understand commonly used expressions in shops, family, work, etc

  • You are able to perform tasks that require direct exchange of communication

  • Describe advanced terms in simple terms

B-level

B1 level: intermediate

  • You are able to understand topics related to family, work and school

  • You are able to briefly describe experiences, events, dreams, plans, etc

  • You are able to write simple texts on topics of personal interest

B2 level: upper intermediate

  • You are able to understand the context of complex texts

  • You are able to interact spontaneously without too much tension

  • You are able to create detailed texts on a wide range of topics

C-level

C1 level: advanced

  • You are able to understand longer and demanding texts or conversations

  • You are able to express ideas without looking too much

  • You are able to write structured and detailed texts on complex subjects

C2 level: mastered

  • You are able to understand almost everything you read and/or hear

  • You are able to summarise information from different sources in a coherent presentation

cerf nl

How do I determine my language level?

If you have followed a language course, it will often indicate what the expected level is after completing the course. This is usually done using the above CEFR standard. You can easily copy this on your CV.

Do you use standard terminology to indicate your language skills? Keep in mind that you mirror the terms to the function. For example, as a store employee it is best to indicate that your French is "Good" if you master B1 level. However, if you're applying as a nurse, your French will be more expected and "Fair" would be a better designation.

What should you do if you are unsure about your language level? You may be able to follow a French business conversation. But what is your language level then? It is important that you are honest about the level of your languages. Employers / recruiters can test your language level during the job interview. It is of course a shame if you go off this way. Fortunately, you can easily find out your language level with the help of a short language test. There are many language tests you can take online.

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Updated September 19 2022

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