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Discussions about which foreign languages to learn are often based on the number of native speakers a language has. However, on the job market, what languages look good on a CV is determined by other factors, especially,

  • the economic relationships between your country and the countries where the target language is spoken,
  • the scarcity of other applicants who can use those languages on a professional level.

For Germans, English is presumably the most important foreign language, i.e. the one that is most often expected on a CV. However, after English, what are the five most "valuable" foreign languages on a CV, based on the job opportunities they give access to? I would appreciate answers based on data, not on articles that make claims about this question that are not underpinned by data.

(Foreign language skills can also be valuable in other ways. See for example the question Through which language can you learn the most other languages online?. However, this is not what my question is about. This is also not about how many foreign languages you should put on your CV.)

  • WAG: Turkish, Russian and Arabic, but I would wait for someone with more experience in German culture. Mandarin Chinese also, and probably French for the sheer number of Francophone countries. – Robert Columbia Oct 19 '18 at 17:47
  • @RobertColumbia In general the language used in economically less developed countries are less required on the job market than that in more developed countries. Turkish language is not as required for German as German language is for Turkish. – Blaszard Nov 9 '18 at 13:37
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The German job vacancy site Joblift analysed 15 million job ads that had been posted over the course of 24 months. See their report Französisch bündelt ein Drittel der Nachfrage: Diese Sprachen werden auf dem deutschen Stellenmarkt nach Englisch am stärksten gesucht (in German), published in July 2018. They found that English language skills were required in a quarter of these ads, i.e. more frequently than the next ten languages combined. Demand for the ten most requested languages after English rose by 2% on average, while the demand for English rose by 17%. The next ten languages were the following (including increase or decrease in demand):

  1. French (-3%)
  2. Spanish (+3%)
  3. Dutch (+9%)
  4. Italian (-13%)
  5. Russian (0%)
  6. Polish (+14%)
  7. Chinese (“Mandarin”, +10%)
  8. Arabic (-17%)
  9. Danish (+7%)
  10. Japanese (+7%)

The importance of these languages varies according to job type: for clerks, French, Italian and Polish are most important; Dutch is more important in jobs for consultants, while Chinese and Arabic are more important for marketing jobs. Arabic is the most important foreign language for social workers. Japanese is most frequently requested in software engineering jobs. French is especially important in companies near the German-French border and companies whose parent company is based in France.

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