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Annie Hayes



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Linguists are key to global success


The ability to speak more than one language is critical if businesses are to succeed overseas.

The survey by executive recruiters Korn/Ferry International reveals that 85% of recruiters in Europe, 88% in Asia and 95% in Latin America agree that being at least bilingual is critical to succeed in today’s business environment. Among recruiters in North America, that percentage was just 34%.

English is the preferred language for recruiters into the Asian and Latin American market, chosen by 88%; Spanish in North America (79%), French (43%) and Mandarin Chinese(30%).

The survey also looked at which types of jobs most frequently call for bi/multilingual executives.

On a global basis, Consumer Products, Retail and Apparel (38%), Technology (34%) and Professional Services (31%) were most commonly cited by respondents, who were asked to select up to three industry sectors.

As far as the functional areas where bi/multilingual executives are most frequently needed, Marketing and Sales (37%), President or General Management (23%) and Chief Executive Officer (14%) topped the list.

Giles Crewdson, Managing Director, Korn/Ferry UK commented:

“These findings suggest that although English remains the dominant language of international business, multilingual executives clearly have a competitive advantage. This will only increase with the continued globalisation of commerce and the growing mobility of executives from emerging nations.”

The Executive Recruiter Index is based on a quarterly survey of 185 executive recruiters. This survey was conducted online within the Americas, Europe and Asia/Pacific last October and November.

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Annie Hayes


Read more from Annie Hayes