A bilingual engineering degree is worthwhile

What to do with bilingual ads

That language skills are required and that there are various levels is nothing new to me. However, I have now repeatedly stumbled upon job advertisements that were "bilingual" - mostly in German and English - and in which fluent English was required. Since these are German companies that operate internationally, I am not sure in which language it makes sense to apply.

I vacillate between a German résumé, because the company’s German locations, and an English document to a) prove that you are fluent in this language and because b) mastery of your mother tongue is a matter of course.


Now just be careful with mastering your mother tongue. Your first word printed here is already wrong in the original, I also tried to eradicate a few other errors.

When it comes to the details, things are often much more complicated: Let's assume that someone is looking for a German for a certain position. As long as he thinks that, it's still possible - but he shouldn't write or say that (anymore). So he would make do with the requirement for fluent German - and hope that this would only motivate the native speaker and scare off the rather wheel-breaking applicant.

Or in the internationally oriented group there is a foreigner sitting in the executive chair who could not do anything with German applications. So you request it in English, even though the activity is designed in such a way that the outsider does not recognize the need for a foreign language.

Or a very modern-thinking HR manager comes up with the idea, "In the future we will always advertise in two languages ​​in order to underline our global orientation".

Nothing is impossible and you cannot always work out from the outside why something is happening.

Your bilingual advertisement, in which "only" fluent English was apparently required, while no knowledge of German was mentioned, could also be a signal to English-speaking foreigners to apply here.

It is best not to worry about the background, which is difficult to research, but read carefully what the advertiser wants from you! If he asks for an application in a certain language, give it to him. There is certainly nothing against using the gag of the bilingual advertisement on the gag of the bilingual application, but that greatly expands the scope of the work.

Attention: If a foreign language is requested in an advertisement, this is not a blanket request to write the application in this language! The documents are usually read first by German administrative staff who may not be so confident in the use of this foreign language. Think about Chinese for a moment!

And of course, submitting an application as a work sample for the level of proficiency in a language is nonsense. You could have used outside help. The following applies: A perfectly drafted application is only an indication of the applicant's corresponding skills, but one that is afflicted with various errors is proof of aspects that are to be viewed critically.

Short answer:

1. The advertiser of a job offer receives the application as he or she expressly requests it. If there is no such request, the application in German is appropriate for a company based in Germany (or the advertising part thereof) and an advertisement (also) in German.

2. Foreign language skills required in the advertisement do not mean that the application should be written in this language. Such a copy would not prove anything (!).

Question no .: 2390
Number of the VDI nachrichten edition: 7
Date of the VDI nachrichten edition: 2010-02-18

A contribution from:

  • Heiko Mell

    Heiko Mell is a career advisor, author and freelancer for VDI nachrichten. He is responsible for the career advice series within VDI nachrichten.