I am not sure that resumes for freelance translators will be important in the future, but they are still used and asked for. Traditionally, resumes have been the most important marketing tool, and they still are quite important, but with the development of online databases such as LinkedIn, directories, websites, etc. more and more people are looking up the information they need online. Direct clients (end clients) in particular look up your information online, or find you through networking or direct marketing. They often do not want a resume, but rather look at a website or get a brochure.
That said, many translation agencies still rely very much on translator resumes and a resume is one of the first tools you need when marketing your translation services. However, many resumes fail to present the message the potential client is looking for. The resume needs to be impeccable, concise and informative to make it through the clutter. It should clearly show where you belong. Are you a medical translator, an interpreter, are you focusing on tourism or trash/recycling? Make it easy for the recruiter to immediately see if you fit the requirements.
When writing a resume, bear in mind that different countries use different terms to describe this document. In international circles the terms “resume” and “CV” (which stands for curriculum vitae) are often used interchangeably. But depending on the country your prospective client lives in, the requirements of what to include, and in what format to include information, may be different. For example in the US it is not customary to include a photograph of yourself in your resume, nor should you include information about your birthday, marital status, or other similar personal details. On the other hand, personal photographs and data are expected and often required on CVs targeted to people in Europe or Asia.
For the opportunities freelance translators are pursuing, an appropriate resume is a one- to two-page summary of relevant skills, experience, and education. A resume must be brief because the reader typically spends less than a minute reviewing its contents. You need to make sure your resume is concise, well written, and that it contains the information translation companies are looking for, and, by the same token, that it does not contain anything that is irrelevant or unnecessary.
Before creating a resume/CV you should consider what you want to achieve with it.
Here are some different situations to consider:
- Applying for a single freelance project
- Long-term freelance cooperation with a direct client
- In-house translation position
- A multilingual vacancy
Adapt your CV with these different opportunities in mind.
During my interview with Marta Stelmaszak, she gave us her five most important tips for writing and sending a resume when marketing our translation services. These are:
- Decide if a resume/CV is the right document to send, or if we should send a brochure, card or business profile instead
- Make sure your resume/CV highlights and reflects your specialization
- Create different versions for different target groups
- Take advantage of digital features. Most clients read them online so you can include links to for example your LinkedIn profile, samples of your translations or of your voice if you are an interpreter
- Quantify and specify the information as much as possible, how many projects, pages, words, companies, clients etc.
She also gave the most common mistakes she has seen in resumes/CVs from translators:
- Sending a resume/CV when another document is more appropriate
- Creating a resume/CV in employment format as if looking for a job
- Not describing experience well enough, being too general instead of including number of projects in a specific field, number of clients etc.
This month the subscribers to the “Marketing Tips for Translators” newsletter receive a checklist for writing a resume/CV. You can sign up to receive this checklist by entering your name and email address in the subscription box on the website. I only send about a message a month and will not share your contact information with anyone else.
What can we send potential clients when a resume/CV is not the right thing to send? Here are some suggestions:
- A brochure or leaflet including an introduction of your services, a list of benefits when using your services, what types of documents you can translate and a call to action.
- A postcard with the most important benefits and a link to your website
- A business profile
We will be discussing these marketing materials in more detail later on. Marta Stelmaszak also wrote a good blog post about what to send when a resume/CV does not work.
Do you still use resumes/CVs when marketing your translation services or do you use something else instead? I would love to hear your opinions.