This is my two cents called: Not Another How to Build Your Resume – also, of killer leaflets, brochures and cover letter-related stuff.
Two of the most important concerns to new and seasoned translators are: How do I write a good resume? How do I promote my business?
There’s not a unique answer to these questions. On the other hand, there are many recommendations you can follow. Keep it simple, keep it short, keep it catchy, keep it professional. These are the basics: the rest must be tailored-made.
When it comes to entering the universe of freelance translation, the very first question you should ask yourself is: how do I introduce myself to clients? For obvious reasons, this topic is extensive and can’t be fully discussed in this post, but here are some useful tips on how to start getting an idea.
I will discuss three basic documents any translator should use, keep updated, and take care of: cover letters, resumes, and leaflets/brochures.
The cover letter:
A cover letter is the body of the email you send when you’re applying for a position or introducing yourself to a potential client. Even though this kind of email should be as personalized as possible, there are few gimmicks you must pay attention to:
- If you’re sending your cover letter with your resume in attachment, keep it as short as possible. Don’t repeat what is already written in your resume; you may focus on a specific experience(s) which is relevant for the client or the job, but not much else. Just don’t write a grocery list.
- If you’re sending your cover letter attaching your leaflet/brochure, keep it as short as possible. Let your documents speak for you. Say hello, briefly introduce yourself, state your availability to further discuss your services. Period. What you must do is intriguing your prospect client. This is all the advertising you need right now. Also, don’t talk about payments or rates at this time or you’ll look like you don’t care about the client and their projects (which you do, don’t you? Otherwise, there’s something really wrong) but just about earning some money.
- Try to always find out the name of the person you’re sending your email to, by performing a search on LinkedIn for example. In their eyes, this will make you score points because you have spent your time to know them. For this reason, avoid using impersonal phrases like ‘to whom it may concern’ or similar.
You can find further and more extensive advices on Sherif Abuzid’s website, www.translatorsgrowth.com, and on Tess Witty’s website, Marketing Tips for Translators – www.marketingtipsfortranslators.com. They also make very interesting webinars and courses on marketing for translators, so I strongly recommend you to follow them.
A resume is a one-page presentation of your professional self: your skills, most important projects, education. Why one page? Because you might have the most extensive experience in the world, but whoever’s reading your resume doesn’t have the time (or the attention level) to know everything about you. The golden rule is to remember that they have business to do and other people to evaluate. A resume is the preferable document to send to a translation agency.
Providing that you are designing a two-column resume, you can use the left, slimmer column for contacts, CAT tools, areas of expertise, that is the short and schematic stuff – use a bullet list, bullet lists rock in resumes; then you can use the right, thicker column for your statement/summary, a selection of your top 5 working experiences, those most relevant for the person you’re sending it to – use a bullet list, bullet lists rock in resumes, and a statement of your most recent education degree, plus relevant courses or similar if you took some.
Also, enter any relevant certifications and national professional memberships (e.g. ATA for the U.S. or AITI for Italy).
- Layout – if you live in a country where the infamous Europass resume is used, just don’t. You don’t need a one-size-fit-all resume. You need a tailor-made resume.
- Font – if you want your resume to be readable, don’t use a Times New Roman 8pt only to have everything on one page. Learn how to slim down the list and summarize.
- Contacts – use a name+surname email address, don’t even think of using your firstname.lastname@example.org email address, for heaven’s sake. If you do, don’t be surprised when you won’t be taken into consideration at all.
- Working tools – name those work-related tools you’re proficient in and own (I know you first tried a hacked version – you need a license to use it for work, though): Trados, MemoQ, GTK, Déjà Vu, XTM, Memo Source, and DTP software.
- Areas of expertise – I sincerely laugh when I see people stating more than 3 areas of expertise, especially when they are unrelated. It’s simply not possible. An area of expertise or specialization field means having an extensive knowledge of its vocabulary, scope, main issues and how to solve or even prevent them, etc. You may have translated few corporate documents in the past, but if they were just fillers and you didn’t specialize into that kind of vocabulary (i.e. studying and reading, reading and studying), don’t call it specialization, just additional working field.
- My two cents – I shiver when I see 5-page long resumes containing all the projects someone worked on in the last X>1 years. Like, really, what do they want to prove? It’s like stating that you babysit your cousin at 14 or mown your neighbors’ grass as a kid while applying to a senior IT expert position. It’s totally unrelated, isn’t it? It doesn’t prove your flexibility at work. It doesn’t prove you’re hardworking. And really, sad but true, nobody cares.
Leaflets and brochures are graphic documents where you introduce your services to a potential client in a very effective and persuading way. The difference between them is simple: the brochure is longer than the leaflet. Think of a leaflet as a one/two-page flyer, and the brochure as a four/five-page menu. Designing such documents is committing but rewarding. They should be used for direct clients; they’re not suitable for agencies.
- If you don’t know how to use photoshop or illustrator or any other graphics software, you can open an account at canva.com. Don’t use paint, please. Really, please, don’t.
- To introduce your services, use a bullet list: bullet lists rock in resumes as well as in leaflets and brochures.
- Contacts – repetita iuvant (repeating does good), use a name+surname email address, don’t even think of using your email@example.com email address, for heaven’s sake. If you do, don’t be surprised when you won’t be taken into consideration at all.
- You may want to add one or two projects from your personal portfolio or experience. If you don’t have a website the client can visit, besides from getting one, use some space on the leaflet/brochure to describe them.
If you want to know more about these topics, search the Internet: it’s full of information on how to build a great resume or write a winning presentation letter. Just remember to use best judgement and customize any good advice you’ll get!
And remember to keep following me for other tips and thoughts.