Market Your Bilingual Skills
In today's competitive market, every additional skill on your resume places you one step closer to your dream job. As a Hispanic/Latino, you can market yourself from the unique perspective of being bicultural, and in some cases bilingual.
“Without a doubt, being bilingual increases employability,” says career development consultant Graciela Kenig in her book Best Careers for Bilingual Latinos. Kenig says that as Spanish has become our country's unofficial second language, corporate America has responded with diversity initiatives that seek to recruit, understand and attract a Hispanic/Latino workforce.
From her personal experience, Kenig says, “out of the 10 jobs or consulting assignments I've had over the last 20 years, nine could be traced directly to the fact that I spoke English and Spanish.”
Kenig is president and founder of Chicago-based Graciela Kenig and Associates, career development specialists for Hispanics, where she offers consulting and training in multicultural work and human resource issues. Her book identifies Hispanic/Latino strengths in the marketplace. “To sell goods and services to a multicultural market, corporations must hire people from within those markets who understand the need of the people and what is important to them,” she says.
Hispanic/Latino Population Rising
Hispanics/Latinos are now the largest ethnic or race minority, giving them enormous purchasing power. According to the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, $380 billion in annual capital flow is dispersed into the market. “Thus the impact of understanding other cultures is so crucial in a corporate environment that it becomes necessary to bring an outsider perspective,” Kenig asserts.
Having an outsider perspective does not mean you must come from Uruguay to sell goods in the Uruguayan market. “If you were born in the United States but were raised in a Hispanic/Latino family, you will have values that are different from mainstream values," Kenig says. "And when you work in a company that wants to serve a multicultural market, a different perspective is one of the most important strengths you can bring.”
Kenig also stresses that while language lends you a competitive edge, cultural knowledge will also distinguish you as a valuable worker.
Seven Hot Career Fields
Kenig wrote her book because she wanted Hispanics/Latinos to know about the range of career options available. She hopes to teach her readers how to match their skills and abilities with the market's need.
“You can't just apply to any job and think that being bilingual will get you hired,” she says. “You need to research the market, talk to people who work in those companies and see where your abilities fit in.” Beyond personal strengths, her book defines current trends in the Hispanic/Latino labor market and identifies seven career fields where bilingual Hispanics/Latinos will be in high demand:
- Financial services
- Sales and marketing
- Public service
- Professional services
- International opportunities
Taking readers through each field, Kenig examines specific occupations within the larger industry, growth projections, required education, mobility and what she terms the “passion factor.” She reminds Hispanic/Latino job searchers that “choosing a career has to do with making your values and passions match your profession.”
Kenig encourages Hispanics/Latinos to take charge of their career choices. “Know yourself, and learn that one of the biggest barriers to marketing yourself as a Hispanic/Latino is cultural modesty," Kenig explains. "As Latinos, we are not encouraged to talk about ourselves. We are often taught humility and that self-promotion is improper. Words of praise can only be uttered from the lips of grandma, or abuelita.”
However, reticence in today's corporate world will not get you promoted. Therefore, Kenig suggests: “You need to learn how to communicate achievement and know that you're not boasting.”