A definitive guide to recruiting multilingual talent

8 min read

More and more companies in Ireland are seeking multilingual support talent to cater to their international client base/customers. Are you one of them?

This is due to many companies choosing Ireland as its European customer base, particularly when it comes to customer service, social services, sales, marketing and otherwise.Those with linguistic skills are in high demand, meaning that they have many options career wise, and therefore recruiting them can be more of a struggle than ever before. Staff retention is difficult in these situations, especially for the more junior multilingual roles. We have therefore put together a guide of some simple measures you can implement in order to recruit the multilingual talent your business requires. Nordic and German speakers in particular are highly sought after in the Irish market at the moment, as you will read in the below piece. However, we mention these two groups of individuals in particular, it doesn’t mean these steps are restricted to these alone. You can apply some of these to a variety of multi linguists.  


Go to international fairs (both in person and online)

There are a number of international fairs (as well as online international fairs) which focus on specific multilingual and otherwise skill sets. Companies are invited to exhibit at these events, taking in incentive ways to target and interact with multilingual candidates. In this competitive market, attendance at these sort of events is necessary. There are also virtual options for those who can’t attend the in-person events. These enable people to interact live with professionals looking to work in large companies who require multilingual staff. These type of events generally focus in on attracting professionals whose skill sets are sometimes hard to find, such as that of German and Nordic speakers. They are a great way to get the correct candidates you want right in front of you, and provide opportunities to meet people you otherwise may not be able to find.


Below is a photo of myself and my colleague Claire at the career and mobility Erasmus fairs in Berlin where we traveled in April last year to recruit German speaking graduates for one of our projects:

Career and mobility fairs in Berlin


Utilize social media

In particular, paid campaigns in their country or countries which are using this language work well. The next part may seem a little obvious, but advertising in the language you are hoping to find a fluent speaker of is a simple way of potentially attracting desirable professionals. Obviously, this may not always be suitable or be the best option, but if this is a positive option for you, then it can often be the simplest way of achieving the greatest number of potential candidates. No matter the country, its residents will use social media, making targeted searches easier an practical. The main social media platform suitable for this is of course LinkedIn, where you can develop a greater insight into what’s really going on.


Multilingual jobs boards

Jobs boards are sometimes labelled as being outdated, but when it comes to multilingual recruitment, it can be the ideal solution. Build a solid job description and go from there. Some specialist job boards exist specifically for multilingual candidates. Reputable multilingual job boards such as Top Language Jobs are designed for this purpose, and are definitely worthwhile giving a try if you are recruiting for this type of professional. Some such job boards also re-post their job ads on other search engines and social media (such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn), which should increase visibility and target a wider base of professionals.Some of these sites also exhibit at job fairs like the ones mentioned above which opens up another outlet of targeting.


Organising Events

In some instances, hosting multinational events is the only way to attract the kind of bi or multilingual professionals they desire.If you are contemplating organising one of these events for your business, then there are a few crucial things you should work on getting right. For example if you are going to have a speaker or speakers present at said event, you need to establish their appeal for an international audience and find a way to add familiarity and connect with your target audience. It also allows you to leverage and further promote your event to draw additional attendees to your conference. Ensure that all staff at said event are trained cross-culturally, especially when it comes to liaising with key speakers and attendees. Whatever you as a business can do to make attendees feel as welcome and comfortable as possible, the better, especially if they are outside of their comfort zone.


Content Creation

Creating content aimed at helping new immigrants to find their feet can really go a long way in recruiting multilingual talent. Even if you are not creating the content in their native language, you can still reach out to them and provide relatable information. Using SEO on your content is also more important than ever and should help you reach an audience which may otherwise be out of reach. Creating content that speaks volumes to speakers of multiple languages does not necessarily have to be written in multiple languages, once the content is relevant and the message is one readers can relate to, it will do the work for you in terms of content marketing.


Partnerships with universities

Forging long term partnerships with universities is sometimes the best way to attract the best multilingual talent. This means that there is a genuine system or strategy in place to match organisations with the best set of skill sets to meet their needs, and this includes language skills. There are so many great language courses out there at the moment in Irish universities, such as Applied Languages at the University of Limerick which produce graduates each year who are fluent in a variety of languages and easy to start their multilingual career.


Cultural Respect

Being aware of the differences between cultures is so essential when it comes to embracing workplace diversity and attracting the best talent. Not only does it improve work relationships and streamline projects, but it also improves communication and communication is an integral part of any hiring process. Many multilingual candidates who may be moving to Ireland or from a different culture generally will think of cultural respect as a major factor to consider when embarking on a new role. Improving your organization's stance and approach to cultural respect will go a long way to providing the ideal company culture for prospective candidates.


Using Skype/other devices to interview if based abroad

Multilingual professionals will often be based abroad, and therefore more needs to be done to accommodate them re interviews and to be more flexible in the approach when engaging with them. Skype interviews and otherwise may not always be ideal, but are often necessary. Some people have even be known to use FaceTime and Whatsapp video calls to conduct interviews instead. Offering this as an option to those who cannot attend interviews in Ireland will generally be much appreciated and will stand to you as an employer in the long run if you decide to make an offer to said interviewee.  


Language Testing

People’s definition of bi or multilingual varies from person to person, therefore it is essential to test a candidate’s language proficiency to ensure they are able for the role/the tasks at hand. While their CV might say they can speak and write fluently in a particular language, this may not always be the case. Likewise, just because someone has studied a language in college or at university, it doesn’t mean they are equipped with the skills to use said language in a working environment. Language testing should include some if not all of the following; speaking and listening assessment, written assessment, reading assessment interpretation assessment and translation assessment. The results of this should be enough to determine if an individual is proficient enough in a language to succeed in a role. 


Candidate Control

So you’ve followed the above, and you have decided on your successful new employee who has accepted your offer. Now the challenges begin to build a relationship with this employee(s) and ensure that you keep some of the points mentioned above in mind, in particular in relation to cultural respect and embracing diversity. Multilingual candidates are an in demand resource, so make sure you do your best to attract and retain them!


If you're planning on hiring a high volume of multilingual staff in the near future and would like to discuss your challenges with one of our experts, please fill in this form to arrange an informal chat.

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