This is a guest post by Annie Pagano from Interpreters and Translators Inc.
Translation agencies receive dozens of emails from translators offering their services every day. We are always bombarded with pitches from translators and other small companies providing translation services, desktop publishing services, captioning, CAT tools, etc.
Well established agencies will already have a roster of ‘go-to’ translators and don’t frequently need to seek out translators unless it’s a rare language combination and/or an industry specialization. It’s crucial that translators take steps to help yourself stand out!
How can translators attract translation agencies attention?
While translation agency requirements will differ depending on the organization, there are a few minimum requirements that most will look for in translators.
Years of Experience
This can be tough for brand new translators but most translation agencies want to work with a translator with at least two years experience. If you’re new to the industry, start hustling and find work however you can to build that experience! Get involved in industry organizations such as Proz.com and the American Translators Association to start building out your network.
Use of CAT (Computer-Aided Translation) & MT (Machine Translation) Tools
As the translation industry continues to evolve and advance, so must the agencies and linguists alike. Most agencies work with multiple tools whether it’s for project management, a CAT tool, and/or MT tools. These types of tools are standard, so it’s crucial to understand and work with the basics of the most popular tools (or be willing to learn!)
While not always a deal breaker, it’s very beneficial to be certified through the ATA and any local/global organizations. These act as a reference and will make project managers more comfortable with using you for the first time.
Agencies almost always ask for recommendations so be sure to compile solid contacts that are willing to vouch for your work.
Develop an excellent cover letter detailing your fields of expertise and tailor it to the agency you are targeting. Be specific with how your capabilities line up with what they specialize in. Once you’ve sent your resume and cover letter in, don’t forget to follow up! Translation agencies have a lot of applications, both legitimate and spam, to comb through and follow ups can help catch their eye.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, what else can you do to set yourself apart?
Find Your Niche
Specialization in a particular field such as legal contracts, medical forms, technical, engineering, etc. can give you a competitive edge. Technical jobs vary from aerospace manuals to construction blueprints so if you have experience and interest in a specific area, own it!
Knowing what type of work you enjoy doing will help you target translation agencies that may be a good fit for you depending on what their end-client base looks like. When reaching out to organizations, act like the true professional you are, show passion, and offer a great customer experience. The more the project managers like working with you, the more they will consistently send you work.
Build your own brand. Create a website for your translation services. Bonus points if you have a blog that is frequently updated. Creating website and blog content on a consistent basis will help boost your visibility on Google and other search engines. Use your website to showcase your work and client testimonials. Promote your site using social media. Many translation agencies now use social media as a recruiting tool so having an online presence is crucial.
Maintain + Grow the Relationship
Congratulations! You were on-boarded with an agency and are waiting for your first job. While it should go without saying; honestly the easiest way to maintain and grow the relationship with your translation agency clients is to continuously act like a professional and be consistent with the quality of work you deliver.
Unfortunately, there are many translators who don’t treat their job as a professional career so those who do stand out and are used time and time again. Below are some specific qualities that we look for as we work with translators:
- Stay on top of your email! Respond quickly even if it’s just to buy time, at least the project manager (PM) will know you’ve received the email.
- Keen eye for detail
- Pay close attention to the details of each project. It’s frustrating when a project manager gives instructions and gets ignored. Overlooking features which may cause mistakes and over time the PM will most likely begin to phase you out of their rotation.
- Quality of work
- Consistency over time is crucial! Once you establish your skill level and quality of work, continue to provide standard and PM’s trust in you will grow.
- Your turnaround times are very crucial. Don’t miss deadlines (without a significant excuse and don’t make it a habit).
What a lot of this comes down to is trustworthiness. We understand we are all human and that life will get in the way sometimes and mistakes are bound to happen. What’s critical is that you exude the qualities above a majority of the time and are consistent with your work.
If PM’s can trust that you always respond quickly, provide an excellent translation that requires minimal edits, are easy to work with, and turn around jobs quickly, you’re setting yourself up for success!
Annie Pagano is a Marketing Coordinator for Interpreters and Translators, Inc. (iTi). She grew up in a multicultural home with a Sicilian father and Puerto Rican mother. Spending a large amount of her childhood on the island of Puerto Rico sparked her passion for language and understanding the complexities of interpretation and translation. Annie graduated from the University of Denver with a degree in international business and marketing. Studying abroad in Madrid, Spain and various global travels opened her eyes to international business customs and eventually, her passions converged when she found iTi. She loves to step outside her comfort zone through travel and is passionate about yoga, health, wellness, skiing & bringing people together, no matter their language or background.