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Take-Up Specialised Skills To Stay Employable In Uncertain Times

By Sampada Gokhale, Head - eLearning Summa Linguae Technologies APAC

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Sampada Gokhale, Head - eLearning Summa Linguae Technologies APAC

As management graduate, Sampada handles the position of VP-clients and strives to achieve organization goals

The corporate world is going through a major overhaul with new emerging technologies, platforms, and business models. Thus, it’s even more imperative for professionals to challenge the status quo and add more skills to their artillery and be armed for the uncertain times. New age businesses, more than ever, are looking for multi-faceted hires. So today, an organization not only would look for a digital marketer who not only acts as an evangelist for the company’s product/service, but can also provide sales enablement training to new hires.

While it’s important to gain specialization and be the master of your craft, it’s also important to be inquisitive and updated about cross-functional expertise. Professionals could hone their skills by attaining on-the-job cross-functional training or opt for enrolling into formal training courses that offer certifications. In either case, it surely cushions them against structural unemployment or layoffs or helps in giving a bump to the career.

New Skills to Your Artillery

Professionals who want to fast track their careers or get an edge while being considered for a promotion have toyed with the idea of pursuing digital marketing courses or Executive MBA degrees or PMP certifications along with their fulltime jobs. What is also worthy of checking out are foreign language courses and certifications which can be a power booster for a professional’s career. There are accredited professional institutions that impart, evaluate and certify language training for different foreign languages. There are many well established and globally recognized institutes in India that offer formal training in learning languages. A lot of us know about Max Mueller Bhavan and Alliance Française, as the torch bearers of German and French language training in India.

“To make the most of the value and efficiency of multiple touch points in this hyper-connected world, businesses need to provide consistent experience that spans across platforms and screens”

There are many good training institutes for Japanese, Spanish, and Chinese languages, which are of growing interest for the Indian professionals. Mayflower Language Services is one such organization that can assist companies in hiring language trainers as well as language experts for their language initiatives.

New businesses and MNCs have always appreciated employees with language know-how as an added, coveted skill. It works for their employers, it works to blend with different teams and people, and it works for the professionals to make themselves understood better with internal and/or external stakeholders – it’s a complete win-win.

Project managers who have added foreign language to their skillset have gotten an upper edge to lead projects with overseas assignments. Software testing specialists who have a language edge are most sought after in the industry. Business analysts who know a foreign language can lead and manage processes that need language expertise. Business consultants have better chances of winning deals and clients if they are armed with foreign language expertise.

Bridging the Cultures

Its proven that employees who know a foreign language, especially the language that’s dominant for their employer’s company culture e.g. knowing Korean and working for a Korean MNC or knowing German and working for a large IT company with German clients, is a sure way of gaining popularity with the stakeholders quickly. Language is an important element of culture, and professionals who have knowledge of a language are also tuned into the culture of a specific market/country.

Learning a language creates empathy and sensitivity towards that country’s culture, how people perceive things, how they behave in a business environment, how they negotiate and close deals, or what factors are perceived as relationship building blocks. Across cultures and no matter what business one is representing, empathy is the key to gaining insights and cookie points with your foreign counterparts.

Japanese and Korean companies having offices in India are so interested about imparting language lessons and cross-cultural training that they give their employees a good insight into these cultures and help assimilate well. Ditto for German companies.

I personally know of a Korean MNC that wanted to impart basic cultural know-how and language lessons to its employees through Mayflower Language Services. Every time such an initiative was started at this firm, it’s rival company, also a Korean MNC, would follow the suit and start imparting language lessons for its employees too. We love such competitive spirit!

Show Me the Money

What might start as a fun hobby pursuit may also mean mega bucks vis-e-vis a vanilla college degree. I have heard many language professionals narrating a similar story about hobbies turning into passion and passion into lucrative business ideas.

Strictly in Indian context, a professional with a bachelor’s degree (or with 1-3 years of work experience) might earn about Rs.300,000-400,000 per annum as the starting salary. Compare this to Rs.700,000-1000,000 per annum for a Bachelor’s cum language degree professional!

Mayflower has a specialised business unit that caters to placing foreign language experts with companies who need such talents. From our experience in such placements, Foreign language specialists’ salaries depend on factors such as trending languages, their own level of language expertise, demand–supply of resources for a language and other aspects.

Currently in India, Mandarin, Spanish, Japanese, German and French are the most coveted language skills sought by companies. Interestingly in India, Korean is also much in demand as Korean companies want to set-up offices here and harness the Indian economy. Linguists with software testing or technical or content writing skills find even more interesting pay packages, along with the perk of being in touch with the language they have acquired by chance or by design.

Creative Outlet & Staving-off Alzheimer’s

Not only does learning a language help in advancing your career prospects, it also helps one get a creative outlet, much like any other hobby. It’s got great benefits in staving off Alzheimer’s and dementia and helps greatly in the cognitive process, making the brain sharper and better equipped for multi-tasking. Most English-speaking people realise when they are travelling to places with non-English speaking folks, that despite the internet explosion, people like to converse in their native languages. Knowing a foreign language makes the travel to that country, more interesting, and more relatable. With this food for thought, let’s try to add a new dimension to our personalities and to our resumes by learning a foreign language.

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