Professional Translators

How to Write an Effective Email for a Translation Agency

by | Last updated Apr 14, 2020 | Professional Translators | 12 comments

Translator sending his CV to a translation agency
It’s essential to sell yourself in the cover email if you want the translation agency to be interested in you.
Tired of not getting a response when you send your CV to a translation agency? If you’re a freelance translator, it’s essential to sell yourself in the cover email. This article will show you how to get responses.
While The Translator’s Studio isn’t a translation agency, Lucy and I often collaborate with other freelance translators on projects. When translators send us their CVs, I’m sometimes amazed at how little they sell themselves in the email.

I want to make connections with my collaborators and work with the best. If all the translator writes is “see my CV attached” then I feel like writing back “why would I?”.

Email templates for translation agencies

If you prepare some standard templates for when you write to a translation agency, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and avoid forgetting things. These templates should be adaptable to each agency and job.

Remember these points about translation project managers

    • A translation agency will get a lot of CVs and the project manager won’t have much time or desire to wade through them.
    • Project managers need to tick boxes. If the cover letter ticks them, then they’re more likely to look at the CV.
    • Be as brief as possible and focus on what problems you can solve for the translation agency. What key information does the project manager need?
    • First impressions count. The project manager may reject you as a possible candidate based on your cover letter. In fact, just the subject line of your email can put them off.
All the information you need to write a CV cover letter that gets results with #translation agencies #t9n Click To Tweet

How long should your cover letter be?

If you’re sending a “cold” email to a translation agency with your CV, keep the body of the email under 180 words.

If you’re quoting for a published job, perhaps from the job board, stay under 120 words.

A cover email that’s too short will be ineffective. It gives the impression that you’re unconscientious, a very negative quality in a translator. As I hinted at above, if you don’t sell yourself in the cover letter, your reader won’t be enticed to open your CV. They’ll move on to the next one instead.

Remember that the project manager doesn’t know you and so you have to give them a reason to become interested in you.

What essential information does the project manager want to know?

    • Your language combination(s). Include this in the email subject line, e.g. ES>EN.
    • Your most relevant qualifications. I normally write “MA” in the subject line.
    • Your specialisations (and relevant experience if you’re quoting for a specific job).
    • Your rates and whether or not they include VAT.
    • How to contact you. Best put after your name in the signature.
“Saying your rates are negotiable without qualifying when you’ll negotiate is like saying you’ll reduce your price if they ask you.”

What information ticks boxes for a translation agency?


  • Translation-related qualifications.
  • Clear specialisation(s) supported by experience and qualifications.
  • Summarised info on relevant experience to the agency or to a specific job, where applicable.
  • Info on CAT tools used.
  • Info on any advanced software knowledge.
  • Confirming that you’re registered self-employed, i.e. that you can issue legal invoices.

What details will make the translation project manager like you?


  • Writing to them by name (spelled correctly), as opposed to using an old-fashioned formula like “Dear Sir/Madam”.
  • Showing membership of professional associations.
  • Being honest about the service you can offer.
  • Engaging with the translation agency elsewhere on social networks.
  • Thanking the project manager for their time.
  • Including a link to your strongest online presence and reviews.
  • Responding quickly if they write back to you.

What will make the translation project manager feel negatively towards you?


  • Making spelling and grammar mistakes, with allowances if you’re emailing in your second language. (They probably won’t make the same allowances for your CV though, so get it checked).
  • Being excessively formal, or rudely brief.
  • Saying you have skills and specialisations without anything to back up your claims.
  • Requesting rates that aren’t market rates. This suggests you don’t know the market, so probably don’t have much experience.
  • Claiming you’re competent to translate bilingually without very strong evidence.

Dos for an email to a translation agency


    • Do refer to the rates you give as your “standard” rates. This implies that flexibility exists depending on difficulty and project size. Also, format: learn about pricing PDFs for translation.
    • Do say your translation rates are “job dependent”. Ideally, each job should be quoted independently. This gives you room to go up and down in price.
    • Do include bullet points to make the email more succinct. This is especially useful if you’re quoting on a specific job advertised on and the like. See an example at the end of this section.
    • Do say you have references, work samples and copies of your certificates available.
    • Do tell them if you’re prepared to work on weekends. But consider a surcharge. Read this detailed article about translation surcharges.
    • Do end with a question, to encourage a response.
“I want to make connections with my collaborators and work with the best.”

Don’ts for an email to a translation agency

    • Don’t say your rates are “negotiable” without qualifying when you’ll negotiate (e.g. easy texts, high volume). Otherwise you may as well say you’ll reduce your price if they ask you.
    • Don’t write too much. They’ll take one look and won’t want to read it.
    • Don’t gush about how much you’d like to work with them. It can come across as desperate.
    • Don’t offer to do a free test. Let the agency ask if they want this. Then negotiate a fair rate for your time.
    • Don’t talk about irrelevant work experience.

Example cover emails for a translation agency

Sample cover letter for sending your CV to a translation agency.

Dear [contact’s first name spelled correctly],

Please accept my CV in application to collaborate with your company as a freelance XXX to XXX translator.

I am a XX native, registered self-employed in XXX and have been working as a professional translator full-time since XXX. My qualifications include: XXX.

I specialise in XXX. I see from your website that your company specialises in XXX. I have translated XXX words for this industry including: XXX. For references see my WWA [link].

My standard rate is XX +VAT per source word for translation and XX +VAT per hour for revision. I have very flexible working/contact hours and am available for weekend work. I have [CAT tool + version].

Is there any further information I can offer you?

Many thanks for your time.

Kind regards,

[Name] / [Letters (MA, BA, etc.)] / [Occupation] / [email / phone / website or on-line profile]

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Get sample cover letters for sending your CV to #translation agencies and for quoting. #xl8 Click To Tweet

Sample response to a request from a translation agency for a quotation

Hello [Contact’s name spelled correctly],

Please accept my quote for the XXX project advertised on XXX. I’m sure you’ll have lots of CVs to wade through, so here’s a quick summary of my credentials.

Experienced [Languages] translator, registered self-employed.

List of most-relevant qualifications.

Specific experience in XXX.

[CAT tool + version].

Price XX per ST word +VAT, payment on XX days. Delivery by [delivery date]. I would ask to see the ST before I confirm this quote.

Please see my CV (attached) and the WWA on my profile: XXX.

I hope to have the opportunity to work with you. Is there any further information you need?


[Name] / [Letters (MA, BA, etc.)] / [Occupation] / [email / phone / website or on-line profile]

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If you’ve found this article useful then sign up for our monthly newsletter in the column to the right. If you want to strengthen your CV with a translation qualification, check out my Advanced Spanish-to-English Translation Course with DipTrans Preparation.

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  1. Genevieve Shaw

    Useful advice for applying to translation agencies and for translation jobs in general. Thank you!

  2. akash

    Very Useful and informative article.

  3. Fuschia Hutton

    Great article, thank you! I have a question – how do you normally address your email to if you can’t find a suitable contact to direct it to? I always do a bit of digging to try and find the name of Head of HR of a Senior Project Manager, but sometimes even LinkedIn doesn’t help! When this happens, I direct it to the name of the company so that at least it doesn’t look like a copy and paste – but never sure if that’s the best tactic!

    • Gwenydd Jones

      Hello Fuschia, thanks for this question. I think it’s really important to use the name, if you can, and agree with your process of trying to find a contact name through the website or LinkedIn. If I still don’t know the person’s name, I normally start “Good morning,/Good afternoon,/Good day,”. I may then add the name of the company in the opening paragraph, to try to show them that I know who I’m writing to. I’ve observed that translators who write to us will tend towards being more or less formal depending on what they’re used to doing in their source culture. In English, at least, I personally think that “Dear Sir/Madam,” or “Dear Mr/Ms . . .,” are unnecessarily formal when we’re talking about a freelancer-agency collaboration. Though this may not be the case for other languages. For me, “Hello/Hi” may risk being too informal starting out, and non-standard openings like “Greetings” sound odd and immediately put me off any possible collaboration.

  4. Carolina

    Very useful Gwenydd! I was doing most of these, but it helps me to improve my cover letter for sure! 🙂 Thanks a lot!

    • Gwenydd Jones

      That’s great, Carolina. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Val @ TranslationsInLondon


    Contact details are so important for us. We receive an awful lot of fake CVs and sometimes a phone call is the only way to determine if a CV is real. We also want to be able to contact the translators swiftly and sometimes it’s easier to use Skype/Whatsapp.

    • Gwenydd Jones

      Thanks for highlighting this, Val.

  6. Oleg Gordeev

    Hi Gwenydd, great tips! I have tried both “with rates” and “without rates” methods and found no much difference in the response rate. If interested in your services/combination, the agency will contact you to discuss the rates and other details. However, when you apply for a specific job (at Proz), there is no way to skip the rates.

    • Gwenydd Jones

      Thanks for commenting and sharing your experiences, Oleg. Yes, you have to include a rate on ProZ, which can be inconvenient because sometimes there isn’t enough information in the job ad to know what to quote. When this happens, I include a note in the box underneath saying I need to see the text to confirm the rate, or something along those lines.

  7. Martyna

    I’m not sure about other countries, but in Poland you absolutely need to attach a clause to your CV or cover letter, allowing for the processing of your personal data for recruitment purposes. Ever since GDPR entered into force, everyone’s been freaking out about personal data protection and many agencies won’t even look at the application if that clause is missing, fearing legal consequences.

    • Gwenydd Jones

      This is really good advice, Martyna. Thanks for adding this!

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