I don’t have a rich experience as a freelance translator, nor as a translation coordinator, but after working 2 months as a coordinator I can already determine the biggest mistakes when applying for a job. So follow these 10 steps and you can be sure you will be considered for the job.
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1. State what is required.
When I post a translation ad, I have some requirements. Usually I ask for experience, best rate, short cover letter and CV in the attachment. I also ask for a specific e-mail subject, so I can sort my e-mails easily. However I don’t always get what I ask for. Usually the e-mail subject is not as I required, there is no cover letter, or the rate is not stated. Then it makes me think: if this person can’t follow simple instructions to apply, how do I know they will focus on meeting my needs in the future?
2. Reply in the way you are asked you to
Even though I post ads on Proz, Transaltorscaffe or LinkedIn, I always ask for a reply via e-mail. Any comments on LinkedIn or Proz messages are not taken into account, because I only check my e-mail. Another thing is, even though I clearly state my e-mail in the ad, I’m often forwarded messages from our HR department, because translators are sending e-mails to them. It is not pleasant for me, neither for the HR department, to forward me hundreds of e-mails. Then, again, it makes me think: if this person can’t follow simple instructions to apply, how do I know they will focus on meeting my needs in the future?
3. Tailor your CV
When I go through a CV, I look for specific information – education, working history, language exams. And all this information should be stated only briefly – list of schools, employers… If I want to know more details I will contact you. So please, tailor your CV and make it no more than 3 pages – nobody reads a 15-page CV (the longest CV I got had an unbelievable 41 pages). Also take your time to format it – bullets are much better than constant text, keep in mind that the person is probably just scanning the CV the first time, and reads the details after selecting a smaller number of applicants… Make important information easily found.
4. State your rate
I know translators don’t like to hear this, but the price is important for the client. If the client asks for a rate, then state your rate. If you don’t have a fixed rate, then state a range for which you usually work, (like 0.07 – 0.1) it still gives an idea of how much they would pay.
5. Include a cover letter
If the client asks for a cover letter, you should write a cover letter – there is always a reason for it. I get many e-mails looking like this:
“Hi Tereza, Thanks for the request. I am a ………….. translator/lector. My translation rates are around …. usd/word and are negotiable. Please find my cv attached”
“Dear Teresa, My proZ profile: http://www.proz.com/translator/xxxxx. I hope I can help you out in the future. best regards…”
This doesn’t tell me anything about the translator, it doesn’t show any effort, any enthusiasm…also, if brief letter is required, don’t write essays. Few sentences are ok. Something like this is just fine:
“I am interested in your advertisement on Proz.com in which you are looking for freelance translators for translating marketing texts from English into Arabic.
I am a native Arabic freelance translator based in Germany. I have been working as a full-time translator and proofreader since 2006, first as an in-house translator and later as a freelancer. I have experience with marketing texts as I translated and proofread the corporate magazine of XX for two years and I translated parts of the Arabian version of the XYZ website.”
6. Don’t state your rate in different currency
If the client asks for a rate in Euros, state your rate in Euros – it happened to me a few times that I got an offer in USD or GBP, I am not going to convert it, I will probably just ignore those offers…
7. Don’t apply if you don’t fit the requirements
If the client asks for a Trados translator don’t answer like this: “Hello, my rate is X Euro. However, I do not prefer Trados. Best,…” by reading this e-mail I just lost few seconds of my precious time. The same thing is with a Paypal (or any other similar) account – if it is stated as the only payment method and you don’t have it and are not willing to make it, don’t waste time by sending your e-mail. If you don’t fit the requirements, do not answer the job offer. It is a loss of time and energy for both of us.
8. Don’t forget to attach your CV
Yes, you may have LinkedIn profile and Proz profile and link it to the e-mail, or you paste the whole CV in the e-mail body, BUT if the client asks to attach your CV then attach it, there is always a reason for it (forwarding it to the manager, saving it for future need…). Moreover, when the CV is in the e-mail body it can be easily overlooked…
9. Don’t be arrogant
Keep in mind that you are applying for a job and you should be the one to follow requirements stated in the ad – your requirements for cooperation can come later, in the second round or after you have been chosen. Translators, who start stating their rules which the client should follow right in the job application, just lower their chances. Don’t be too arrogant, but don’t be cheap as well – phrases like “Please hire me!” Won’t get you the job as well as phrases like
“In order for me to commit myself to a job, I need an official purchase order clearly stating all of the following”: ….
“I do not provide discounts”
10. Don’t be offensive to me or to other translators
I always send e-mails with the results to everybody, even if the result is negative for them. I am also a translator and it just upsets me when the contact person is not even able to say sorry, we found someone else… So yes, I do it and I usually get positive replies (if any). But sometimes, I get a reply like this, a reply which closes all potential future doors for the translator:
“Thats nice, Tereza, best wishes with hiring lazy people in the future, that will obviously make you very successful in the future.”
Another thing is, when you try to increase your value by attacking other translators. It only shows an aspect of your personality, which I definitely won’t like. So no matter what, try to avoid sentences like:
“Of course you will receive tons of CVs from ‘as if’ Vietnamese translators, however most of them are not professionals, even with masters degrees, and I have the right to say this, because I know exactly what they can and what they cannot do…”
Please note that all the sample sentences are taken from actual e-mails from translators. Language combinations, countries and names have been changed in order to avoid insulting someone. If you recognize yourself in some sample, you can contact me via personal message and we can talk about it in a friendly atmosphere. I am not going to answer insulting e-mails or messages.
Feel free to comment! I am interested in your opinion in this matter.