How to list language skills on your CV + examples

Not sure how to showcase your language skills on your CV? Highlighting them can sometimes be challenging.

In the present global job market, speaking multiple languages is a valuable strength.

In this guide, we’ll reveal how to list language skills on your CV, ensuring employers declare, “Wow, this applicant has talent!”

We also have 10 examples that’ll show you how to make your CV shine.




What are language skills on a CV?

Language skills on a CV - example


Detailing your language skills on a CV is essential, as they show you can speak a second or even a third language. For example, if you have basic skills in French, it’s worth mentioning. Or if you’re fluent in Spanish, be sure to brag about these language skills.


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The importance of language skills

Language skills on your CV are a pretty big deal.

Employers love candidates with diverse language skills because they demonstrates that you can speak a different language, which can come in super handy if you run into a client or colleague who doesn’t speak the same tongue as most individuals in your work setting.

Basically, language abilities give you the building blocks to interact with others and provide you with culture-specific knowledge, too.

And guess what? Companies are really into this these days because they need people who can communicate with others from all around the world in every kind of job. It’s a win-win!

You, the job seeker, can really benefit from communicating your foreign language skills, as it boosts your CV’s appeal and opens up opportunities.

Speaking the likes of Arabic, French, Spanish, and German is incredibly important for your future.


Where to put language skills on a CV

Showcasing your language mastery on your CV is essential. But where do you insert them?

There are several places you can add your language skills on a CV, which we’ll look at in more detail below.



1. Your personal details

Language skills on a CV - personal details


The personal details section of your CV includes your name, professional title, phone number, email, and location, and often additional details such as your LinkedIn profile and personal website.

Adding language skills in your personal details gives a quick snapshot of your language talents, so it’s easy for would-be employers to gain insight into what languages you can speak and your skill level.

Let’s say you’re fluent in Spanish – you’d write it like this: Languages: Spanish – Fluent, French – Intermediate.


2. Your personal profile

Language skills on a CV - personal profile


The personal profile section of your CV is a 3-5-line paragraph at the very top that summarises your top skills, qualifications, and what you know. But don’t dive too deep into the nitty-gritty – it’s just a mini intro about you.

Adding your language skills here can improve your appeal, especially if the role needs solid language proficiency. If you’re applying for a position that depends on you speaking a certain language, such as a translator or tour guide, it’s worth highlighting at the top of your CV.


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3. Your core skills section

Language skills on a CV - core skills


The core skills section of your CV is the bit that comes after your personal profile. It’s where you create a bullet-pointed list of your main skillsets and certifications relevant to the job you’re applying for – it’s essentially a list of skills that show why you’re perfect for the job you’re after.

When you add a bullet-pointed list at the very top of your CV, recruiters can quickly see why you’re an excellent fit for the position without digging too deep into your CV. You make a brilliant first impression with your skills right from the get-go.

If you’re exceptionally capable in numerous languages, adding linguistic talents to your core skills section is a smart move. This is arguably the most sensible place to add your language skill level in a bullet-point format, like French – Native or Spanish – C2.



4. Your employment history

Language skills on a CV - career summary


The employment history section of your CV is where you insert all your past work experiences and job roles.

It’s important to list your language skills in this section as you can show employers how you’ve put your language skills into action.

Mention any relevant work experiences where you used your language skills. State how you used your language abilities in your job and whether it entailed interacting with foreign customers.

For instance, if you were a sales associate and expanded the client base for Spanish-speaking clients, mention it.


5. Your education section

Language skills to your CV - education


The education section of your CV is the section where you outline your academic certifications, like degrees, diplomas, and qualifications.

You’d mention your language skills in this section to emphasise any language-specific qualifications or language-related coursework that strengthened your fluency.

So, if you earned yourself a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, here’s where you’d mention it. Or maybe you obtained a DELE Diplomas of Spanish certificate at the C1 level.

Or if you have a particular language certification such as a B2 First Certificate or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), note it here as well.

Highlighting language-based qualifications gives recruiters tangible evidence of your foreign language proficiency and shows you’ve applied those language capabilities on the job. They’ll regard you as a well-rounded applicant with practical language expertise – something hiring managers really love.


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6. Your additional information section

Language skills on a CV - additional information


The additional information section of your CV is the space where you can give extra details about your skills, certifications or hobbies relevant to the jobs or companies you’re applying to. Usually, this part only applies if you have little work experience, to help give employers more info about what you do outside of work.

Detailing your language skills in this section doesn’t just share what languages you speak. It also says how good you are in them, and any impressive language-related certificates you’ve achieved.

Create a dedicated ‘Foreign Languages’ subsection under the Additional Information right at the bottom of your CV.

This is where you can mention your language abilities, such as any unique dialects or regional variations you’re fluent in. You’d write it like this:

“Foreign Language: Fluent in French and Polish, with a profound understanding of Southern European dialect. Adept in business-level Spanish. Conversational in Mandarin Chinese.” 



3 examples of language skills on a CV

Below are three examples of how to write language skills on a CV for 3 different language proficiency levels.


Candidate with basic language skills

Language skills on a CV - basic


If you have basic skills, you can handle daily conversations and easy interactions in the language. However, you may find it trickier to tackle more complicated tasks or professional interactions.

In this case, you can just add your language skills to the ‘Additional Information’ section, as you only need to make a small mention of them so you don’t oversell them.


Candidate with intermediate language skills

Language skills on a CV - intermediate


If you have intermediate skills, you might be able to take part in work-related chats, take care of client enquiries or even engage in basic business situations.

In this instance, add your language skills to your personal profile, employment history, education, and additional info section at the intermediate level.

This makes your profile more interesting and shows you aren’t just about your main skills but have something extra to offer.

Adding language skills to your personal profile tells recruiters you have skills that go beyond your main ones. Listing them in your work history demonstrates you’ve used those language abilities in the work setting, which a hiring manager will find incredibly helpful.

When you list them in your education section, it proves you’re not just studying theory but actually putting it into practice. Lastly, when you add your language prowess to the additional info section, you’re showing off a new hobby which adds depth to your entire CV.


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Candidate with experienced language skills

Language skills on a CV - experienced


Well-versed in certain languages? Able to charm your way through both casual and formal settings?

Then you’ll need to list your language skills as fluent throughout your CV, with any certifications you’ve achieved. Add your language skills to every section of your CV – that’s the personal details, personal profile, core skills, employment history, education, and additional info sections – to ensure they get noticed



How to write languages on a CV

If you want to describe your language skills in a way that will be universally understood, the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) is the globally accepted standard. It describes language ability on a six-point scale, from A1 (beginners) through to C2 (proficient) and is well-known in the UK.

When you list your language skills, it’s best to start with your strongest language skills. Prioritise languages in line with the job you’re applying for.

Here’s how you’d write your language skills on your CV:


How to write language skills on a CV


Let’s say fluency in Spanish is an essential requirement. Mention this early on in your CV and reinforce it throughout.

Only mention languages you have a professional-level grasp of. Don’t bother mentioning a language you don’t have much experience in – this gives them an exaggerated idea of your language skills.

Remember to specify your native or bilingual languages underneath a dedicated ‘Foreign Languages’ subsection under the ‘Additional Information section.


How to describe your CV language abilities

When describing language skills on your CV, use universally understood terms to detail your proficiency level, including beginner, intermediate, advanced, and native.

These widely understood phrases serve as a universal language for hiring managers:

  • Beginner – You’re in the early phases and can understand basic phrases and hold easy discussions. For example: Basic proficiency in French (Beginner). 
  • Intermediate – This means you can have conversations and navigate daily situations but with several restrictions. For example, Intermediate level in Italian (Conversational).
  • Advanced – You’re confident in professional environments and can talk about complicated topics. You can also handle business communications. For example, Advanced proficiency in Spanish (Professional). 
  • Native – You can speak the language fluently as if it’s your mother tongue. For example, Native in German. 


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Discovering your fluency level in different languages

Working out how to get across your language expertise on your CV plays a critical role.

Thankfully, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) makes it a cinch. It’s essentially a fluency map with levels varying from A1 (learner) to C2 (expert).

Firstly, A1 and A2 are your elementary levels, while B1 and B2 are for when you’re cruising at intermediate. C1 and C2 demonstrate you have superior language skills.

For instance, your levels may fall into:

  • Beginner (A1) – You have a basic understanding and introductory communication. 
  • Elementary (A2) – You’re familiar with common expressions and direct interaction.
  • Intermediate (B1) – Understand everyday subjects and elementary writing. 
  • Upper intermediate (B2) – You’re aware of complicated context, spur-of-the-moment communication, and thorough writing. 
  • Advanced (C1) – You can grasp lengthier content, talk about your ideas well, and produce structured writing.
  • Mastery (C2) – You have a high-level perception and can summarise complicated info articulately. 

If you’re unsure of your proficiency, the best way to find your CEFR level is to take a well-designed standardised test that adheres to the CEFR guidelines. You can do these tests for a range of languages and they’re completely free.

Once you know these secret codes, you’ll be able to communicate your language superpowers correctly on your CV so you match up with the right opportunities.


Language skills on a CV - CEFR levels



UK language courses and exams

If you really want to prove your language knowledge to employers, you can add any language related courses you have taken to your CV.

Or if you don’t have any – perhaps you could take one to give your CV a quick boost.

Some widely established examples of courses and exams include:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – assesses your English language skills for work, study or relocation reasons.
  • Cambridge English exams – The First Certificate in English (FCE), Advanced (CAE), and Proficiency (CPE) exams are among the widely accepted criteria for assessing English language skills.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) – A commonly accepted exam welcomed by educational institutions and hiring managers to evaluate the English language dexterity of non-native speakers.
  • Trinity College – Provides an assortment of language exams such as Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE) and Integrated Skills in English (ISE).
  • The European Consortium for the Certificate of Attainment in Modern Languages (ECL) – Evaluates language skills in European languages such as French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

These are just some of the language courses and examinations on offer – you’ll find numerous other veritable options for ascertaining language proficiency in the UK.

Make sure you choose the right course or exam in line with the language you want to assess and the specific needs of your employer or company you’re aiming for.

After all, claiming you speak fluent French won’t do you much good if you’re applying for a German international sales job!


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Choosing the right languages

When it comes to picking languages for your CV, select the ones that match the job you’re interested in.

If the role you’re applying for involves global customers, highlight the languages you speak. Planning to work overseas? Concentrate on languages prevalent in those areas.

Let’s say you’re applying for a job in international sales which entails talking to clients all over Latin America. If you can speak fluently in Spanish and Portuguese, this shows you hold a special key to connect with those big markets.

When you choose the right foreign languages for the job, you give employers an insight into your personality and signal that you’re willing to build relationships across the world.


The takeaway

So, there you have it – a guide to make your language dexterity sparkle on your CV.

Don’t forget – demonstrating your linguistic skills goes beyond ticking boxes. It shows your cultural sensitivity, adaptability, and your eagerness to bridge global gaps.

Don’t miss out on opportunities by overlooking your language skills – be the one who wows hiring managers and co-workers alike with your multilingual talents.