There are two candidates, but only one position. Both candidates have the same education and the same number of years work experience, even the same salary expectations…but what would make one stand out over the other? The ability to speak a foreign language, of course! English is a vital tool for your Field Service career. Your future company needs to know that you can deal with clients independently when working abroad. But ‘local’ languages are also sought after. Make your language skills stand out, without overcomplicating things!
1. The most sought after foreign languages for Field Service positions:
English has become the norm. Regardless of the type of role you are in, you will most definitely need to be able to have a technical conversation with clients in English. You need to have a good level of English to be able to:
- > Explain what you are doing verbally, to deliver updates and talk about difficulties experienced, using the right technical vocabulary.
- > Talk to clients on a day-to-day basis to understand their requirements and meet their needs in real time.
German is much more difficult to learn, but it gives you a major advantage for Field Service positions, especially for machine-tool manufacturers. In fact, you will find lots of German companies in this sector (for example Bahmueller , Berg & Schmid, or BW,…)
In Switzerland, Italian is also in demand, due to its close geographical proximity with Italy. Within Switzerland, it is a real advantage to be able to understand Swiss German, especially if you prefer doing short national work trips. However, if your future company is based in the south of Switzerland, it is important to be able to speak French to deliver feedback to internal teams.
In France, it is not necessary to understand dialects, however, you may be asked to speak English for the majority of the time, especially if most of your work travel is abroad.
If your English is not amazing, don’t worry, there are also ‘regional’ technician or engineering positions that do not necessarily require a good language skills.
2. Don’t pin everything on internal language classes to improve your language skills
Too many candidates present themselves as speaking a foreign language at an intermediate level, when the job description asks for an advanced level. Keep in mind that your language level will be tested during the interview stage. If the job description specifies a certain level, the recruiter is looking for someone who can hit the ground running.
The ‘completing an internal language improvement class’ argument will not be considered. To pass the final interviews successfully and get the position, you’ll need to have the required level. The only cases where a lower levels would normally be accepted (meaning that you would have to complete an intensive language course for your first months), would be for Junior roles or in situations where employers are keen on training.
If your foreign language skills need to be improved (especially for English), try improving your level yourself, you can do this by:
- > Spending your next long weekend in London!
- > Putting English subtitled on Netflix, instead of French
- > Switch the lyrics ‘on’ when you listen to music on Deezer or Spotify
- > Download podcasts that relate to your career in English and listen to them in your car during rush hour
- > Read Field News in English!
3. But make sure you never under-estimate your linguistic skills!
Be careful, make sure you don’t restrict yourself too much. Go ahead and apply, even if you don’t consider yourself to be ‘bilingual’! The most important thing is your ‘technical’ oral level. If you have been using English frequently in previous positions (several times a month), you will have kept your level up and you shouldn’t run into any difficulty.
To self-assess your level of English, you can test yourself through the TOEIC test (used internationally), by using the simple 4-step scale below:
- > Basic: you are a beginner but you understand some words and expressions in the language
> Intermediate: you used this language in the past (in your professional or personal life) but you don’t use it much anymore
> Advanced: you use this language regularly (in your professional or personal life) and have enough technical vocabulary to speak freely and be understood by those around you (verbally and in writing).
> Expert / Bilingual: you have been mainly working in this language for a few years or have lived in the country that speaks this language for several years. You can express yourself easily through both speaking and writing.
Need more information about language skills or how to right your CV ? Don’t hesitate to have a look to this article !
If you need to get in touch with our editorial team, feel free to contact us directly through our plateforme here.
See you soon,
The Field Service Recruiter Team
# field service engineer, field service technician, job, emploi, SAV, ingénieur SAV, technicien SAV, langues, foreign languages