How Language Skills May Give You a Cutting Edge in the Disputes Sector

Posted by Specialist Claims and Dispute Team, Maxim Recruitment on Friday, December 14, 2018

Having specialised in recruiting construction professionals internationally for over 10 years, I’ve always been slightly surprised that wherever in the world we’ve been working, English often seems to be the only language skills desired by our clients.

I’ve performed search assignments in all corners of the globe as a Recruitment Consultant, and very rarely has a client requested additional language skills other than English when looking for construction professionals.

However, since I’ve started to specialise in construction disputes I’ve found a clear desire from clients in this sector to hire multilingual candidates.

This has especially been the case for vacancies based in our clients overseas offices, where the ability to speak both English and the local language has been the minimum level of linguistic skills to be considered for the role.

Speaking an extra language is not only of interest for roles based outside of the UK though. Far from it. Whilst it’s often not an essential criteria for our UK based disputes vacancies, the ability to speak multiple languages has been looked upon favourably by our clients.

There’s several reasons for this. The most significant reason is that although many of the Disputes Consultancies have their Head Offices in the UK (often London), many are working on claims and disputes on major international projects.

Therefore, having multilingual staff can be particularly important on such projects to communicate efficiently with the client and the various parties and staff involved on the dispute.

For our Disputes clients, having multilingual staff can also help open doors and business opportunities in new locations if they can market themselves as having proficient and relevant staff within their business.

Level of Competence

I feel the need to clarify that candidates must be fully conversant in said language(s). This includes being able to read and write documents to a very high level.

Unfortunately, being able to string a couple of sentences together from a few holidays on the continent will not cut it in the Disputes sector.

Which Language Skills are Most Valuable?

The language skills that are most valuable tend to be the more frequently spoken languages around the world as well as particular languages for construction hot spots globally. These can include (but are in no way limited to):

  • Spanish
  • Mandarin
  • Arabic
  • French
  • Portuguese
  • German
  • Russian
  • Malay

Basically any extra language skill in addition to English would be advantageous. However certain languages may be more attractive to individual clients based on their relationships and target markets.

Suitable Criteria

It seems worthwhile to point out that language skills alone will not aid you in finding a role in construction disputes. Disputes professionals often build up a wealth of knowledge and experience in construction professional roles such as Quantity Surveying, Planning, Engineering or Project Management prior to moving into the disputes sector. It is this expertise that allows them to perform adequately in the disputes sector.

The vast majority of senior level roles within the disputes sector are taken by candidates who already have a strong exposure to claims and disputes work either for a specialist disputes consultancy or for a more general contractor or consultancy, but heavily involved in claims and disputes.

However if you are a multi-lingual construction professional and considering getting into the disputes sector or someone who is already working in the claims and disputes sector and you speak multiple languages, we have clients that do value this and are actively looking for staff.

Right to Work in the UK

For roles based in the UK, it’s relevant to point out that candidates should ideally have the right to work in the UK as our client base in the Disputes sector have typically not provided sponsorship unless roles are particularly hard to fill.

Current Vacancies

Current vacancies include roles in Delay and Quantum specialisms and will often be with claims consultancies or specialist expert witness consultancies.

View all of our disputes related vacancies:

Specialist Claims and Dispute Team
Specialist Claims and Dispute Team
Maxim Recruitment

Our specialist recruitment team are experts at sourcing staff for both Quantum and Delay jobs, from Consultant up to Director level. We work with Claims and Expert Witness consultancies who pay competitive salaries and lucrative bonuses, who are able to provide exposure to an exciting variety of construction disputes. We recruit for professionals in London, across the UK and in selected international locations.