Maximize Your Culture and Language Skills in Your Job Interview

In our turbulent economy, U.S. companies are aggressively seeking competitive advantages in the increasingly diverse local and global marketplaces. It is a matter of not only growth, but for many, survival. These companies are not likely to be successful unless they understand the cultures and languages of their customers and employees. Multicultural experiences and / or language skills are very critical business assets employers are seeking in order to thrive in this new business landscape.

How can you communicate your multicultural experiences and / or language skills as an asset? First, you must convince yourself these attributes are advantageous and worthy of consideration.

Therese Droste, a Washington D.C. based career columnist, suggests writing a list of benefits you bring to the workplace. Below are few examples that have appeared on lists developed by clients and our readers:

  • My language skills will be used to resolve cultural or language conflicts or problems between customers and colleagues.
  • Being multicultural or multilingual demonstrates I can adjust my style to different people and situations.
  • Being multicultural or multilingual indicates I have experienced looking at problems and opportunities from different perspectives.
  • Being multicultural or multilingual indicates I think before I act.
  • Being multicultural or multilingual means I know how it feels to be misunderstood, and I also know what it takes to reverse misunderstandings.
  • My accent will be seen as an additional competence that helps me communicate better with colleagues and customers from diverse backgrounds.
  • I understand leadership and creative solutions within the context of my diversity.

The next step is to take that list you made and match them with positive experiences in your life in which your multicultural background or multilingual abilities helped you resolve a problem or communicate better with another person. It’s similar to creating a life resume. Yet because so many of our life experiences become distant memories, you have to ponder the past, target such situations and write them down. Your multicultural assets must be presented in a manner that proves that you can help drive a company’s business goals.

Let’s say you’re asked in an interview how you would deal with a problem situation with a colleague or customer. You could preface your answer with: “Partly because I know how it feels to have the shoe on the other foot…” and then fill in the rest with a specific example of how your background helped you solve a similar problem. Simply put, you provide the employer with an example of how you used your experiences as a multicultural and / or multilingual person to solve a past business problem or show how your skills helped you in a previous job. We suggest you read Be the S.T.A.R. of Your Next Job Interview and use the article’s worksheet to prepare your answers.

Once you’ve convinced yourself of how valuable your skills are, you will articulate them better and gain an employer’s confidence.

Generation S – Advancing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service to Becoming a Service and Inclusive Nation

Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve . . . ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, we participated in a national day of service along with hundreds of thousands of Americans. It was also a day about bridging cultural and generational divides between Veterans, Boomers, Xs and Ys. So, Who is Generation S and Why Will We Make a Difference? Generation S is the convergence of all generations uniting to take responsibility for each other and future of our nation through service. Generation S builds upon the strength of our country’s diversity of backgrounds, experiences, ideas, and perspectives as we unite to serve. Generation S is a movement that can profoundly transform the culture of our country to one that fulfills the true meaning of inclusion and empowers people to control their destinies. On the eve of his historic inauguration, President-elect Barack Obama appealed to the nation to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. through service to others. “It’s not a day just to pause and reflect _ it’s a day to act,” Obama said on King’s national holiday. “I ask the American people to turn today’s efforts into an ongoing commitment to enriching the lives of others in their communities, their cities, and their country.”

ServiceNation, a coalition of 120 organizations with a collective reach of some 100 million Americans, is one of the leading forces in this call for a “New Era Of Service.” ServiceNation serves as a portal for opportunities volunteer opportunities across the country. Have you joined Generation S? Read the Declaration of Service and sign the pledge. We will discuss the impact of Generation S on the future of the workplace in upcoming entries.

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Declaration of Service

WE BELIEVE in the ideals that define America: liberty, equality, and justice. WE BELIEVE the idea of America is ennobled, and the future of America is strengthened, when Americans come together to serve their country. WE BELIEVE there is no challenge that cannot be met with the energy, creativity, and determination of the American people. WE BELIEVE all individuals can make a difference and anyone can be great because anyone can serve. TO LIVE in America is both a blessing and a responsibility, and service to community and country is at the heart of true patriotism. Ever since our Founders pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to each other and the cause of independence, each generation of Americans has stepped forward to serve in the defense of our freedom and ideals. TO HONOR the sacrifices of those who have gone before us, and to bequeath a stronger and more just nation to future generations, we too stand ready to unite and serve. We pledge to challenge cynicism, and to serve over our lifetimes to secure a brighter future for all. WE ARE READY TO SERVE WE CALL on each other and leaders from all sectors of American life, private, public, and non-profit, to work together to create ample opportunities for citizens to serve their communities, their country, and the world. WE ENCOURAGE all communities to build upon the strength of our nation’s diversity of ideas, experience, and perspectives as we unite to serve. WE ARE READY to meet the challenges of our time.

We are ready to do our part in America’s timeless quest for a more perfect union, and I am ready to begin now by adding my name to this Declaration.

Asian American Heritage Month – Career Resources

Yesterday I attended an Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) celebration to commemorate the contributions of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in the United States. Below are several professional associations, web resources and books dedicated to helping Asian Americans advance their careers and contributions in the workplace.

Professional Associations

The largest organization, National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP), provides its members with the tools and resources to further career advancement and to empower Asian Americans to become great leaders, as well as, reliable employees. To find more about the NAAAP and other organizations, read Dan Woog’s article Top 16 Asian American Professional Groups.

Job Portals

There are niche career sites for Asian Americans that provide job postings, career management tools and resources needed to successfully navigate in U.S. workplace. A few of the more comprehensive portals are the Asian American Success Center, Asian American Village of IMDiversity.com, AsianLife.com, and the NAAAP Career Center.

Books

Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians by Jane Hyun

Invitation to Lead: Guidance for Emerging Asian American Leaders by Paul Tokunaga