My freelance translation business hardly ever advertise for translators, since I do most of my work in house or with the help of a tiny team of trusted other translators.
However, nearly every day, I receive an average of a dozen emails from translators offering their translation services with different language combinations and areas of expertise. Unfortunately, these types of emails are written in such a way that it ensures they very often end up in my spam folder or in my trash folder.
Here are some of the tips you could find helpful to increase your chances of getting translation jobs from translation agencies.
Research your translation agencies
Find out who they really are and to whom your email should be addressed to. If you are sending your message without specifying whom you are sending it to, it is very likely to be sent to the spam folder. Most of your prospects are translation agencies? Try and find out their email address: many translation organisations prefer candidates to fill out a questionnaire on their web site for new translators to contact them. If this is the way they like it and this is how they want to gather data from freelance translators, if you contact them by email, you’re wasting your time.
Find out the type of translation the translation agency does
You need to know what areas of expertise they are looking for in their translators. This will help you create an even more targeted email with a better chance of success. A translation agency will be more interested in receiving an email that says ‘I’m an English into French freelance translator with a degree in civil engineering and more than 15 years’ experience in translating user guides for the automobile industry’ than a standard ‘I translate from English, French, German and Portuguese into Greek’.
Keep the Subject of the email as brief as possible
A great subject, for example, might be ‘English > French translator with many years (15) of experience, specialised in civil engineering’ which is absolutely better than, let’s say ‘French Freelance Translator/Proofreader’ and far better than ‘Seeking opportunity at your esteem company’, often a subject line I receive from misguided translators
Write your message very carefully
If it happens that you are not a native speaker of the language that you are writing into, I suggest that you have a native speaker proof read your copy. Keep in mind: the goal of your email is to persuade your translation agency to open your CV.
Don’t say that you translate from your language – French – into a second language
Doing such a thing will guarantee that the translation company thinks that you are not a professional. Unless you are one of those extremely rare people who are native speakers of several languages, that is to say you are a true bilingual, you should say so but you must be prepared to explain how you became a true bilingual. For example, ‘My mother is French, my father is British, each of my parents decided to speak to me in their native language from my very early age and while I was living in Switzerland, I studied from grade 1 until high school in an international school where most subjects were taught in English.
Mention your language pair and your name within the heading of your CV
For example, “Olivier Den Hartigh, English into French translator”.
Keep your CV as brief as possible
No further than 1 page if you don’t have a considerable experience and no more than 2 pages in other circumstances.
Don’t include your translation rates in your email or your CV
If you want to speak about rates, that should come later.
Do not include any references
Provide them at a later stage if the translation agency requires them.
Ensure your CV is written without errors
Once again, if it’s written in a language that is not your native language, envisage having it proofread.
Localize your CV according to your target
For example, a CV for a prospect who is French should really contain your photo, but not for an American company.
Make sure your CV contains all the information that is important
Forget the irrelevant information. If you have a very small experience, it is all right for your CV to include information concerning other types of work that you have done. As soon as you start having experience in translation, delete the unnecessary information.
Make certain that all the given information you provide in your email and in your CV can be verified
Information you should include in your CV
Your working language pairs, how to contact you, your translation experience, other work that is relevant, education, expertise with certain applications (as an example, CAT tools or DTP programs – don’t mention in the various applications that you know how to use Word or Excel – translation agencies will assume that you know how to work those.
Information you should not include in your CV
information such as your age or marital status. If you find out that the
translation agency you are targeting usually includes this type of information,
I suggest you use your best judgement and decide by yourself whether you wish
to include this information or not. Moreover, you should not include
information such as your interests and your hobbies unless your hobbies
contribute to your area of expertise. For example, “I play golf, that is
something I am passionate about and this experience helps me when I translate
notices about golf equipment”.
something utterly crucial:
You must remember that you are the person who decides about your rates, not the translation agencies. In the same way, translation agencies are free to simply accept your rates, or refuse them or try to make you lower those rates. This is simply business.