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Bilingual Jobs
Employers are increasingly aware of the advantages of recruiting people with language skills.

A bilingual secretary or PA provides secretarial and administrative support using one or more foreign languages. Agencies and employers promote their bilingual secretarial jobs in London and across the UK on this website. Job vacancies often exist within banks, financial institutions, government departments, law firms, management consultancies, manufacturing firms and other companies who do business within Europe or globally.

Bilingual secretaries and PAs with reasonable fluency in a Western European language such as French, German, Italian and Spanish are often in demand. There are also job opportunities for speakers of many other international languages, including Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic.

Job description

A Bilingual Secretary performs all the normal secretarial duties expected of a secretary but combines this with the ability to speak one or more languages, examples of which are French, Spanish, German, Arabic, Mandarin or Russian. You generally need to have English as your first language (or at least be fluent) and be able to switch between languages instantly and often under pressure, so complete fluency is an essential requirement.

Your role as a bilingual secretary will differ from business to business but your main duties would comprise:

  • Speaking in both English and your other language(s) with internal and external contacts
  • Translating often complex documents
  • Interpreting conversations between key executives
  • Handling phone calls/emails in different languages
  • Meeting and greeting overseas clients
  • Arranging overseas travel and conferences
  • General secretarial/admin tasks

You'll usually work the standard 35-40 hour week, 9 to 5, though some businesses work non-UK hours and may work to a different time zone's working day, so be prepared for the possibility of  non-standard working hours.

You'll need to be a competent secretary and have a decent CV to back this up. Secretarial qualifications will do your case no harm either, though most employers will focus upon your language skills and whether you're not just fluent socially, but whether you can converse at a business level. There's a big difference between chatting with friends in another language and using your language skills in a business environment and it's important you can display this distinction. It's often the case that experience in a similar role gives you this ability.

The skills an employer might be looking for at an interview for a bilingual role include:

  • Fluency in business-level English and at least one other language
  • The ability to communicate at all levels in both languages
  • Accuracy, attention to detail
  • A good understanding of the culture of the nation's language you're fluent in
  • Excellent audio/copy typing skills in both languages

Salary Information

Where you're working and who you're working for are key criteria in determining salary levels for bilingual secretaries. It's safe to say that the commercial or financial sectors in London and the South East will be top payers, with salaries ranging from £20k to £38k depending on experience. Elsewhere, look for a starting salary of c£18k+ and with good experience you can expect nearer the £25k mark.
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