My friend Candy recently complained that she wasn't getting any responses back on her resume.
"I have ten years of customer service experience, and somehow that's not enough." she said, morosely reaching for another breadstick. "I think my resume is just too typical, it blends in too much, and gets lost in this giant sea of customer service resumes."
"Well, you're bilingual, why don't you play that up?" I said. Candy gave me a look. Most of my childhood friends think I'm on some kind of crazy crusade with this whole 'utilize your bilingual skills' thing.
"Okay, college girl. Do you honestly think that with all the time I spend around you, I wouldn't have thought of that? Of course I list myself as bilingual."
"On my resume, you idiota!"
"In the skills section?"
"Yes in the skills section! That's what you're always harping about, isn't it? That it's a god given skill that we should all be making the most of if we don't want to end up doing the same thing our moms did, blah,blah,blah...am I right?"
I sighed. Always with the attitude. I ate a breadstick.
"Look," I said, "You have to do more than that."
When creating your resume, it's not enough just to write 'bilingual' or 'customer service'. Really take the time to think about what you offer. And no, I don't mean you should include long glowing descriptions of what you did all day at your last job. I'm talking bullet points and key terms. If you're from a multicultural background, when you offer bilingual customer service skills, you're offering your employer the potential to reach out to your community and develop niche markets. It goes beyond language. With your understanding of your own culture, you can reach out to clients in a way that other customer service representatives can not. You can improve your company's word-of-mouth, and develop a new fiercely loyal clientele. Using this kind of terminology on your resume and in the interviewing process will let prospective employers understand that a) you understand and value your own worth, and b) you understand the inner workings of the system; you're resourceful.
Of course that's not enough either. Once you have a resume that plays to your strengths, you need to find job search methods that play to your strengths. You want to get paid more for your bilingual skills? Go to the companies who value diversity and bilingual status enough to pay money to post jobs on forums specifically geared to the bilingual community. Check out http://www.bilingualjobs.com, check out http://www.hirediversity.com. Explore your options. The more you read, the more you begin to understand today's terminology, and the better you can use it to your advantage.
"Niche marketing, huh?" Candy says. "Last time you were on my case about getting bilingual jobs, now it's niche marketing and developing new markets. At this rate my resume is going to be like five pages long. Does it ever end?"
"No," I said. "It doesn't."