“Bilingual Preferred” - Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations website and podcast (2022)

Posted by Elena del Valle on July 10, 2006

By Astrid Rial, president, Arial International

“Bilingual Preferred” - Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations website and podcast (1)

Astrid Rial, president Arial International

Photo: Arial International

Companies who are hiring bilingual talent to service US Hispanic customers are seeking employees who are able to effectively communicate in “Business Spanish” so that they can deliver products and services to Spanish-speaking customers. However, confirming that job candidates are fluent in verbal and/or written English and Spanish is a challenge if the recruiter is not fully bilingual.

Many Spanish speakers in the US speak colloquial Spanish. They are able to converse across the dinner table, but they lack the vocabulary or knowledge of grammar, syntax or verb conjugation rules to conduct a business conversation in Spanish. Unless the interviewer is fully fluent in both languages, recruiters find it difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between casual and business Spanish-speakers. For companies who offer differential pay for bilingual language skills, the recruiter has the additional responsibility of ensuring the candidate’s verbal communication and/or writing skills are professional and appropriate for a business environment.

Let’s evaluate the following requirements commonly used in bilingual (Spanish/English) recruitment ads:

1.Bilingual abilities are a plus
2.Bilingual preferred
3.Bilingual preferred; at a minimum, the ability to understand and to make one’s self understood to all Spanish speaking individuals
4.Excellent verbal and written communications skills required in English and Spanish
5.Bilingual and able to read, write and speak Spanish proficiently
6.Must speak and write Spanish fluently

In this sample, there are six different descriptions of sought-after job applicant skill sets, but each one requires a different level of Spanish communication expertise. In the first two examples where bilingual skills are “a plus” or “preferred”, a recruiter may decide to “take the candidate’s word” that he can speak Spanish. However in the last four examples, the company is seeking specific bilingual abilities. In these situations, an independent language proficiency assessment is highly recommended as in-house appraisals can be subjective.

Best Practice “Tips”

How do recruiters assess a candidate’s communication and comprehension skills? Many companies require candidates to complete a language proficiency assessment: an objective, scientifically designed evaluation of the candidate’s verbal and/or writing communication skills. Effective assessments are fact-based, consistent, unbiased and use a proven methodology to evaluate all candidates with the same criteria.

Assessment services that require no advance appointment are the most flexible for recruiters since no planning is required and any eligible candidate may be assessed at the time of the interview. We have found that some companies prefer to assess candidates for bilingual positions at the first stage in the interview process so that they only spend their internal resources on qualified candidates. Other companies assess Spanish proficiency in the final steps of the interview process, after the candidate has fulfilled other hiring requirements. Assessment services can provide staffing for job fairs and weekend and evening appointments as well as during regular office hours.

We have found that companies are able to recruit the most qualified candidates when the job description is specific and lists the position’s qualifying requirements. Advising potential candidates in advance that their language communication skills will be tested can help weed out unqualified candidates from applying for the job. This is a time-saver for recruiters as only those candidates who are confident in their bilingual communication skills will apply for a job if they know in advance they will be tested.

Benefits and Cost-Savings

Once assessed, companies can assign employees to the business process they are most qualified to fill thereby improving employee retention, reducing turnover and, ultimately, delivering the highest level of service to their customers. Other benefits and cost-savings companies experience by conducting language proficiency assessments include:

•increase the probability of hiring the right candidate;
•reduce training time for new recruits;
•provide objective data to justify bilingual pay differentials;
•reduce costs of discharging an employee due to inadequate skills; and
•deliver consistent, excellent, high quality service to your customers.

Many companies conduct personality tests, clerical and computation skills assessments and drug and alcohol checks to screen job applicants. These employers know the benefits of pre-employment testing. Now companies who service multi-lingual customers have an additional resource available: language proficiency assessments to objectively test communication and comprehension skills of bilingual job candidates.

Astrid Arial ispresident of Arial International. Arial International, in business since 1992, is a multicultural, multilingual firm that assists companies in targeting and retaining U.S. Hispanic customers. This article was first published in the Arial International Summer 2006 newsletter.

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9 Responses to “Bilingual Preferred”

  1. “Bilingual Preferred” - Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations website and podcast (2)Luisa M. Fournier says:

    July 26, 2006 at 9:27 am

    Very important subject, report, service and information. With millions of hispanics on board, there should also be an enormous amount of persons capable to fit such job descriptions. Unfortunately, that’s where it stays, in job descriptions. Informing should have as its last name, Educating. To increase language proficiency and probability of hiring, more than messages should be given in bulletins. It should be followed by organized, planned campaigns, implented and delivered to school students and teachers to motivate them to exercise purity of languages.

    Hispanics should not be embarrased to speak their native language, on the contrary, besides learning good written and spoken English, they need to focus on not loosing their own. Focus in learning both well and be proud to know two languages.

    Two languages well spoken, written and interpreted correctly will be -or I should say, is- half of the road walked while on their way to the ‘american dream’.

    Congratulations on the service Arial International offers and hope that you may go a step forward.

    Luisa M. Fournier


  2. “Bilingual Preferred” - Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations website and podcast (3)Martha E. Galindo says:

    July 26, 2006 at 12:03 pm

    Great article!
    Your company fills a void. Congratulations!

    (Video) BREAKING: Open LMS Acquires eThink Education

    Police departments around the country are feeling the heat regarding this issue… You may want to target them for special evaluations. Another idea, work with Language Schools to issue fluency certificates depending on the skills of the candidates. tehy have teh credentials for language matters…

    Galindo Publicidad, Inc.


  3. “Bilingual Preferred” - Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations website and podcast (4)Martha E. Galindo says:

    July 26, 2006 at 12:03 pm

    Great article!
    Your company fills a void. Congratulations!

    Police departments around the country are feeling the heat regarding this issue… You may want to target them for special evaluations. Another idea, work with Language Schools to issue fluency certificates depending on the skills of the candidates. tehey have the credentials for language matters…

    Galindo Publicidad, Inc.


  4. “Bilingual Preferred” - Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations website and podcast (5)Sandra Aponte Salazar says:

    May 15, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Some Spanish speakers (whatever their level of profficiency) are are opting not speaking Spanish on the job because they are not compensated for it (i.e., bilingual pay differential). In this day and age, some companies refuse to do so. Can you shed any light on why some companies do pay more for bilingual skills? Is tehre any measurable ROI in offering bilingual pay differential?

    Sandra Aponte Salzar


  5. “Bilingual Preferred” - Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations website and podcast (6)Maria Zarate says:

    June 13, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    I work for the State of Washington delivering social services to the most vulnerable & needy population where the Hispanic population is high due to the seasonal,agricultural demographics of our area. I find that our employer does not value the bilingual skills we have(we have to be certified to use them by law) nor do they want to adequately compensate us for the use of these skills. The attitude is appalling,demeaning & discriminatory. We are tasked to use oral & written/translating complex state & federal regulations in language that our clients can understand so they can comply & also meet the regulations.


  6. “Bilingual Preferred” - Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations website and podcast (7)Erika de Yalwa says:

    December 2, 2009 at 5:53 am

    Great information…super article!
    I believe that due to all this “internationalization” generated in the last years, most of the companies focus in offering their services in different languages. And in countries like the USA, where the Hispanic population has an enormous influence it is even more important.
    Thats why the company where I work (Yalwa) due to the demand of the users made a special version in Spanish for its business directory an the free classifieds sites http://www.locanto.us/
    I think it was a good decision, because the Hispanic market in the USA is really valuable.


  7. “Bilingual Preferred” - Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations website and podcast (8)Angie Carrera says:

    June 21, 2010 at 11:34 am

    As an instructor for Qualified Interpretation Course of Study (QICS), I teach foreign-language bilinguals to become qualified interpreters for their communities as well as to prepare for certification. I also train organizations (nonprofits and health facitilies), businesses and government on how to effectively utilize interpreter services and on how to appropriately recognize, utilize and compensate fluent bilinguals as direct service providers or interpreters. It is a shame that such barriers to elevating the use of bilingual skills exist when by nourishing and appreciating them, everybody benefits!


  8. “Bilingual Preferred” - Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations website and podcast (9)Beverly says:

    July 22, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I am offended by these companies that perfer bi-lingual it never use to be this way years ago until they started hiring illegals. I am highly qualified for these jobs except I do not speak or write Spanish. I’ve been laid off six months and I am having a hard time finding a job because every job I want to apply for perfers bilingual. It’s that prejudice! How can that be legal to add that to the job description.


  9. “Bilingual Preferred” - Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations website and podcast (10)Maria Ochoa says:

    March 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Horray for the bilingual. In fact, we should be paid two salaries because we are worth for two employees. We become the bridge of both languages. From the majority of our bilingual staff, I am chosen to interpet for agency functions that include Spanish speaking audience.
    Maria Ochoa


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What does bilingual preferred mean? ›

Bilingual Preferred means the ability of an individual employee to speak an official language in addition to English is an asset to the position as the employee may occasionally provide service in another official language (e.g., field calls or requests from the public or interjurisdictional inquiries) but is not a ...

How do you list bilingual in a job description? ›

How to list bilingual skills on your resume
  1. Determine the relevance of your bilingual skills to the position.
  2. Add it to your skills, summary or experience sections.
  3. Detail these skills further in a languages section.
  4. Describe your fluency level.

Can you put a language requirement in job description? ›

However, by using words such as "bilingual," "fluent," or "idiomatic," job seekers who speak multiple languages, regardless of their national origin or ethnic background, are more encouraged to apply. Keep in mind that requiring fluency in multiple languages in your job description is perfectly fine!

Are Latinos bilingual? ›

Among those who speak English, 59 percent are bilingual. 50 percent of children of immigrant parents are bilingual, compared to 35 percent of Latino immigrants, and 23 percent of Latinos with U.S. born parents. 42 percent of Latinos ages 18 to 29 are bilingual.

Can you refuse speaking Spanish at work? ›

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has stated that rules requiring employees to speak only English in the workplace may be illegal unless the employer can show that they are justified by business necessity.

How do bilingual employees advertise? ›

Whether you are multilingual or not, take a look at some recruiting strategies for bilingual candidates.
  1. Use both languages in the job description. ...
  2. Source bilingual candidates. ...
  3. Create a special email template. ...
  4. Conduct interviews in both languages. ...
  5. Use code-switching. ...
  6. Provide a written bilingual test for employment.
13 Jun 2018

How do you say that you are bilingual in a resume? ›

To put emphasis on your language proficiency, add the word “Bilingual” to the beginning of your job title. Also mention in what languages you performed your daily duties.

How do you attract a bilingual candidate? ›

  1. Conduct rigorous screening. ...
  2. Incorporate Code Switching into your oral screening of bilingual candidates. ...
  3. Post jobs in both French and English. ...
  4. Pay a premium wage for bilingual staff. ...
  5. Consider whether a different 2nd language combination would be a better fit.

Is it legal to require Spanish for a job? ›

Under the provisions of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers with at least five employees generally cannot limit or prohibit the use of any language in the workplace, except in rare circumstances when they can demonstrate a legitimate business necessity do so.

What is a preferred qualification? ›

Preferred qualifications are the preferred, non-mandatory skills and experience of an ideal candidate. These are often more qualitative than the minimum qualifications (e.g., demonstrated proficiency in persuasive communications, teaching background preferred).

Can you put bilingual in a job posting? ›

In general, there is nothing discriminatory about requiring that applicants know an additional language, provided that speaking the language is actually something that is necessary for them to perform the job.

Does preferred mean required? ›

Required skills, which means "You'd better have this, or don't bother applying." Preferred skills, which means "We'd really like it if you know how to do this because it's important."

What is a bilingual recruiter? ›

Bilingual Recruiter responsibilities include identifying and reaching out to highly skilled candidates, communicating with applicants in both languages, interviewing and/or assessing candidates to ensure a good fit and keeping in touch with hiring managers to stay informed of upcoming needs.

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