How to Better Market Yourself as a Translator
A guest post by Jason Thai
Been learning another language for years…CHECK, spent extensive time in that respective country…CHECK, got your language dictionaries…CHECK – sounds like you’re ready to become a full-fledged translator, right? Well…not exactly, there’s that all important step of finding and winning translation jobs. At FoxTranslate, we come across hundreds of résumés a month and thought we would share some tips on what gets our attention. Hopefully, you’ll find this article helpful regardless if you’re looking for work with an editor, publisher, author or traditional translation agency.
Grabbing the reader’s attention
You’ve heard the slogan; first impressions make all the difference, the same is true of applying for a job. For good or bad, the first point of contact is typically the email and more specifically the email title. Both should grab the reader’s attention, or else hiring managers will pool you with all the other applicants – no matter how qualified you are. Grab the reader’s attention and hiring managers will spend more time reading your cover letter and résumé. With email titles, keep them punchy, numbers or fact-oriented and short.
Examples of Good Email Titles
- 14 Years of ES Experience, Fortune 500 Clients, Read on for Details…
- Last Year: Translated 6 FR novels, 6 new positive references
Examples of Bad Email Titles
- [Company Name]
- French speaker interested in Translator position
There’s nothing particularly “bad” about the examples of bad email titles, they just don’t grab the reader’s attention.
Same is true of the email body, stick with numbers and facts and convey in a punchier format such as bullet points and lists.
Keep it Personalized
Spend some time on the company’s website, learn facts about the company, and convey those facts. Hiring managers want to know that you are their top choice and aren’t just going through the motions, because, for lack of more info, they’ll assume that that’s how you’ll also approach work. While research and customization of emails and cover letters takes time, your success rate is guaranteed to increase. Your email bodies and cover letters don’t have to be glowing reviews of the company, just one to two lines about what you like about the company and why you would be a good fit. A good resource is fact checking what people are saying on ProZ or Translator’s Café.
Hiring managers want to know that you’re serious about being a translator and nothing speaks more to that than showing off your credentials, previous work history and references. Good supporting materials include:
- Translator associations that you’re a member of
- Sample documents that you’ve translated
- Client listings
- Better yet – a personal website with all of the above information
Spoken English Skills
You’re probably chuckling at this, but you’d be surprised at how many applicants don’t have great spoken English abilities. Not only does that make hiring managers second guess the applicant’s core competency, but more importantly, it makes hiring managers question the ease of management and communication in the long run.
There are obviously more suggestions we can go into, but these four steps should get you on the right path. Notice all the suggestions and I haven’t even touched on doing a sample translation yet! Point is, never underestimate how communication of skills may be even more important than actual skills – at least for winning jobs.
Jason is a marketing manager with FoxTranslate, a document translation service, specializing in translating legal, business, immigration and academic documents in over 30 languages.