This is a guest post by Ed Garcia from worktranslating.com
I get many emails every day from translators offering their services. Some emails get my attention, while some don’t. What is the difference? What can you do to make your emails a “must open” email?
Before we get started, just a few quick things. First, I want to clarify that I am not an expert on preparing CV’s/Resumes. I just want to share what kind of email offers get my attention, which don’t, and why. Second, since each translation service may have a different way of processing translator applications, for simplicity, I will use the term “reader” to refer to the reader of your email offering your services. OK, now let’s get to what you can do to get the attention of the decision maker. Lastly, since some US readers may not be familiar with the term CV, in each instance, I will put CV/Resume.
Make it easy for the reader of your email
In many cases, the reader of your email will have many, many emails waiting for them in their inbox. In my case, I get emails from service vendors, potential customers, customers with open orders and our current translators, and of course from translators looking for work. I can’t speak for others, by my solution to getting through tons of emails is to quickly scan for the information I need. So my recommendation is that you make your emails as simple and direct as possible. How?
Subject line: Include as many useful details as possible
The subject line of your email is the first opportunity you have to get the reader’s attention. Many translators put something like “Translator Application”, which only let’s me know it’s a translator looking for work. Others put English<>Spanish Translation Service. That is a little better because it tells me the source & target languages. However, what if you could include even more useful information in the subject line that will help the reader quickly know if you have what they need? Let me show you a sample subject line that I think is very informative and then we’ll examine each element.
Sample Subject Line:
Medical Spanish>English Native Translator-Rates from xx/cents/word
1. Specialization or other differentiations
You want to stand out, right? The first thing you can do is include your specialty. If you are a Medical, Legal, or Technical translator, that would be a great thing to include in the subject line. If you are Certified by ATA, you can put ATA Certified. If you have documented work experience for a considerable number of years can put “Experienced”. If you have references that confirm you are a reliable, high quality translator, etc., you can use those phrases. However keep in mind it carries more weight if you can back it up with references.
2. Language Combination
Your language combination is vital. The reality is simple. Your language combination is either needed by the reader or it isn’t. By including your language combination, you immediately make yourself stand out to those that need your combination. It’s not really complicated, but it may surprise you that many translators send vague subject lines that don’t mention their language combination nor their specialties.
3. Native Language
Confirm you are a native speaker of the target language ASAP. You will be surprised how many emails we get from folks that say they can translate to multiple targets, some of which are not their native languages. By including that you are a native of the target immediately, you quickly communicate that you are an experienced translator and know our industry. If you have in another country for a long time and can now provide translation in both directions, clarify that in the body of your email. For services in the US, this is very helpful with language combinations where an English native is hard to find.
I know some or even many will disagree, and I completely understand both sides of the argument, as to whether or not it is wise to include rates in the initial contact email. You may feel that if you give rates, you may get automatically disqualified by folks looking for cheaper rates. However, my personal recommendation is to consider giving a range of your rates. For example, why not give a range.. your lowest available rate for non-technical editable text, and a premium rate for technical texts, or documents requiring extra formatting work etc. Using this method you give the potential client an idea of cost, but you maintain control of your rate if things progress to a concrete estimate.
If you decide to share your rate in this first email, here is how I would recommend doing it in the subject line:
Sample Subject Line: Medical Spanish>English Translator-Native-Rates from xx/cents/word
Notice that the rate says “from”. In English language marketing, rates “from” communicates that those are your lowest available rates for the basic products or services, but it also implies there are higher rates for more complicated products. Marketers use this technique all the time, and so can you. Remember this is just the subject line to get the reader’s attention. You will be able to clarify in the body of the email. Now let’s look at the body.
Body of Email
Let’s remember that since your email will likely arrive in the middle of many others, the goal is for your email to stand out in a simple and direct manner. While the body of your email will allow you to expand on your strengths it should still be simple and to the point.
Use bullet point list & avoid attachments
Again,we know it is highly likely your reader is very busy and will only scan your email. So, I have two suggestions that will make life much easier on your reader.
- Instead of wordy paragraphs, use bullet point lists to share your strengths
- Instead of an attachment, paste your CV/Resume below your signature
Let’s get this down to an example:
Subject: Medical Spanish>English Native Translator-Rates from xx/word
My name is Ed. I am an experienced medical Spanish to English translator. I understand that you may be very busy helping customers, so I wanted to briefly introduce myself and let you know that I currently available to help additional clients. A little about me, I can offer:
Expertise: Medical Terminology
- English Native
- 20 Years of Experience
- Can translate xxx words per day
- Rates from xx/cents/word
- References Available on CV/Resume
For your convenience, my CV/Resume is pasted below my signature. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if I can help you with a project.
So, those are my recommendations on how to get the attention of busy agency owners/hiring managers. I hope the sample email format which is simple and to the point, is helpful. The reader, whether a sole owner, project coordinator or HR person, will appreciate getting the key points quickly. By pasting your CV/Resume below your signature, you give the reader the chance to review your resume either at that moment, or later without having to deal with attachments. This may result in a quicker response to your offers and, hopefully, more translation work.
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