Aligning myself with many other job seekers, the skills section of my resume included the word “bilingual,” being that I can speak English and Spanish. In my mind, I already had a foot up on those who are restricted to one language, yet unbeknownst to me, I was selling myself short. The idea of thinking of myself as “multicultural” in a professional manner didn’t occur to me until a recruiter at the 2014 Career Fair made a point to tell me to put the phrase on my resume. After the recruiter glanced at my resume the conversation soon shifted to inquiring about my bilingualism. Our conversation delved deeper into where I was from, how I learned Spanish and what my family and upbringing was like, all which led the recruiter to let me in on a little secret, “multicultural individuals are better able to relate to a wider variety of audiences, they are better able to recognize issues others might surpass and they are able to come up with creative solutions to those said issues.”
I had honestly never thought of the concept in such a concrete manner. Perhaps I took my understanding of Mexican culture for granted, but once I thought about it, being able to say words in another language is a whole different ball game than being able to understand the challenges that a particular population is facing. For instance, I can tell you about family members in Mexico being thrown in jail because their small town business was forced to comply with drug lord demands, and I have woken up to the squealing of a pig being slaughtered outside my bedroom door in preparation for a festival later that night. My exposure to Mexican culture through food, festivals, religion, family members and friends have allowed me to market myself as being “multicultural.” My ability to identify issues that others might not as readily recognize is something that I can apply to my field of study, Public Health. Public heath looks to improve the health of entire populations, where being able to pinpoint issues from an internal point of view can be useful in determining causes and solutions the health issue Mexican Americans face.
So I ask you, what’s that one thing on your resume that can set you apart? For me, I didn’t realize how much being multicultural brought to the table, but I’m glad that someone took the time to point this out to me. Regarding resumes, it’s easy to put down skills that we think employers are looking for, like “being a leader, or being a good communicator,” which don’t get me wrong, are valuable assets, but I challenge you to think more intentionally than that. In addition to putting down skills that employers have specifically stated they are looking for, and even beyond listing the skills that are applicable to almost any field, like being a team player, list some skills that are unique to you and to your field, skills that set you apart from the pack. As I found out, being 50% Mexican has more perks to it than the occasional real enchiladas in my belly (which, might I add, don’t come from your local Juan Colorados).
posted by Adriana Aguilar, Career Assistant