Translator Training

How Translators Showcase Their Talent to Translation Agencies

by | Last updated Feb 5, 2019 | Translator Training | 0 comments

The most successful translators know how to showcase their credentials quickly, while enticing the project manager to look at their CV.
The most successful translators know how to showcase their credentials quickly, while enticing the project manager to look at their CV.
Your target customer (the translation agency) has a problem: they want to work with the best translators, but they have limited time to wade through CVs and emails. One way to differentiate yourself as a translator is by making it quick and easy for the project manager to see key data about you when you send out your CV.

 

Below are nine methods freelance translators have used when sending us their CVs. There are pros and cons with these techniques. Knowing them will help you have more success in showcasing your talent to agencies.

1. One-line cover email saying “Please see CV attached”

Brevity is good, but a line like this begs the sarcastic response: “Why would I?” If you don’t put your language combination in the subject line, and key credentials and prices in the cover email, you create work for the project manager. Downloading a translator’s CV requires an extra click, and you’ve given them nothing in the cover email to make them think it’s worth the effort.

2. Lengthy cover email giving lots of specifics about translation projects and work experience

If you’re doing the opposite of the person in point 1, then you’re going too far the other way. If you’re quoting for a specific job, then it’s good to mention related experience. But think key facts and consider your reader’s attention span. Lists and bullet points can be helpful in a cover email because they let the project manager scan through quickly. A project manager wants to scan. See my post “How to Write an Effective Email for a Translation Agency” for some helpful hints and templates.

3. 6-page CV

I wouldn’t read it. Would you? Two pages maximum, with the most important data on page one.

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4. CV packed with graphs and tables, showing the translator’s experience in numbers and percentages, with lots of different colours

There’s a lot to be said for being creative and different. But, when time is of the essence, a CV that doesn’t look like a CV can obstruct the reader on their mission to locate a translator’s key data. The project manager may not have the patience to figure it out.

5. A second attachment containing a portfolio of samples of previous translations the translator has done

In theory, a portfolio sounds very professional. But, does it solve a problem for your target customer or does it create one? Remember that it’s very unlikely that the project manager is looking for translators that match your profile at the exact time your CV drops into their inbox. They’re either going to type your details into a database or file them away for some future time when they may need a translator like you.

So, given the lack of time and immediate need, it’s very unlikely that they’ll have sufficient motivation to read random portfolios (assuming they can speak your languages). Also, you can’t store a portfolio in a database, so it represents extra filing for them. If I wanted something like that, I’d ask for it. If translators send them to me, I don’t tend to look at them. See point six for my suggested solution.

6. Links to online translator profiles

When translators give links to a strong online profile, then the project manager can check it out quickly. It’s best to have everything in one place because too many links in an email creates an information overload. With so many choices, the project manager can’t see where they’re supposed to go, so they don’t bother.

“There’s nothing like a recommendation from a friend or colleague.”

It’s a good idea to include important links in your CV, too, in case it gets separated from the cover email. If you have translation samples that you want to share with the agency, put them online somewhere and include links to them inside the CV. If you’ve done work for someone and your work has been published online, once again, put the link inside the CV. That way, the day the agency becomes interested in you, they’ll have the info at their fingertips.

It’s worth keeping your own database of translations you’ve done, with links to them if they’ve been published. Use categories to locate them quickly, so you can provide the information if asked for it. At the end of each year, I pick out a few of the ones I consider most interesting to potential clients/my career objectives and record them in an Excel. This list often comes in handy when quoting on specific jobs.

7. Certificates sent as attachments

When the agency wants them, it’ll ask for them. Some big agencies may require proof of your qualifications as standard. Smaller agencies probably see them as a filing problem. Consider getting your credentials verified by ProZ.com or joining a translation association. For more information about this see my article “How to Become an Accredited Translator to Get More Work”.

8. Giving references

Point seven is relevant here, too. Also, don’t underestimate the usefulness of tools like recommendations on LinkedIn and WWA on ProZ.com. If you collect them, then they’ll be ready and waiting when you need them. You can mention them quickly in your cover letter or CV, with a link.


The translation industry is quite a small world. If you collect enough online recommendations, you may find the translators you’re working for, or want to work for, know each other. There’s nothing like a recommendation from a friend or colleague.

9. Copy and paste the CV into the email (right at the end)

I’ve seen a few translators do this after their signatures, as a sort of postscript. They attach the CV to the email as well. I think it’s a great idea. Whenever a translator has done this, I’ve scrolled down and glanced over the CV, and perhaps seen something that has caught my interest. If it had been an attachment, I wouldn’t have looked at it.

Want some ideas for showcasing your skills to end customers? Check out Lucy’s article: “How to Show the Customer You’re the Best Translation Service Provider”.

Have you found any other ways to get attention when you send out your CV to translation agencies? Comment below. And, while you’re at it, sign up for our newsletter in the column to the right, to get a monthly summary of our articles and translation news.

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