“Working fluency in German, any other European languages would be a plus” This phrase is becoming more and more common in job postings. Today, citing several languages in your CV has practically become a prerequisite for getting a job. In the era of globalization, especially in a multilingual country like Switzerland, mastering two national languages as well as English is an undeniable asset. But how do you cite it in your CV? What wording should you use? What are the current standards?

Basic knowledge or fluency?

For a long time the formula “read, spoken, written” was the standard. Today, it has become so obsolete that it can hurt, or even eliminate your application. Some people prefer expressions like: basic knowledge, working fluency, professional proficiency, perfect command, or bilingual. However, with the exception of the latter, these expressions lack precision and are not always enough to reassure an employer.

Expect to be tested during the interview process, either by someone who is a native speaker or by taking written language tests.

What is the best phrasing?

Nowadays, language levels are written as A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2, which correspond to the standards applied by most institutes offering language diplomas. But, if you have acquired your skills on the ground, during a professional experience or while traveling, you will need to complete a self-evaluation to indicate your level to your future employer. To this end, the European Union’s site Europass has set up various tools to help you evaluate your level and showcase your language skills. This link will take you to a document that lets you create a language passport: Europass site

And here, you will find a grid for self-assessment.

Where should I mention languages on my CV?

  • Level C2/Bilingual: If you are bilingual or trilingual, mention it in the title of your CV.

  • A1 or A2 or have a dated diploma: If you only have basic knowledge or earned a degree more than ten years ago and have not practiced the language since, list it in the “Education” section.

  • B2 or C1: If you have a perfect command of one or several languages, create a “Language” section in order to take full advantage of this undeniable asset.