Resume Writing for Freelance Translators

Under Blog | Posted by CETRA Admin

Here are some suggestions on how to make your resume stand out:

  • Keep the document to one or two pages. Remember, this is a resume, not a CV. As such, it is important to summarize the most significant highlights of your professional skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for. A project or vendor manager’s time is limited. They spend only a few seconds looking at your resume to see if it is worthwhile to keep reading.
  • Indicate your source and target languages. This information is important and having it clearly visible at the top makes it easier for project or vendor managers to find when they go looking for a specific language pair among the many resumes they have on file. If you translate more than one language, include it, but differentiate your strongest language pair from the others.
  • Indicate your specialization. It is likely to be the second thing a project or vendor manager looks for on your resume. When looking for a particular area of expertise for a project, many translation companies use indexing and key word search tools to help them sift through the resumes on file. Having your specializations listed will help ensure that a word search leads to your resume. For example, if you are a German medical translator, make sure you list the words “German” and “medical.” If you are just starting out, you may not have substantial experience in a particular field, but it is still a good idea to indicate something you would like to specialize in and that you are actively pursuing.
  • Submit your resume online, preferably in PDF format as an email attachment. A PDF file looks professional and can be viewed on different platforms without altering the fonts you use. It also indicates that you know how to create a PDF file, which many translation companies see as a valuable skill.
  • List complete contact information. Make sure you include your mailing address, phone number, fax number, and an accurate email address that you check regularly.
  • When saving your resume on the computer, use your last name for the filename. Don’t name your resume something generic like “U.S. resume” or “translator 1 .” This just makes good sense, especially when submitting your resume online, since translation companies will typically file an applicant’s material under their last name.
  • Indicate your educational background in the proper place. If you graduated recently and do not have much work experience, make sure you emphasize your education. If you are an experienced translator or interpreter, you can move the education information to the end of your resume and emphasize your work experience instead.
  • Provide relevant information only. For a freelance position, it is not necessary to show that there are no gaps in your employment history. You don’t need to write down that summer you spent pouring concrete or waiting tables, unless perhaps you were waiting tables at a cafe in Paris or Madrid.
  • Indicate your experience with computer-aided translation (CAT) tools and whether you use such tools on a regular basis. Do you own and are you proficient in the use of a particular tool, such as SDL TRADOS? If the answer is yes, make sure it is reflected on your resume. Make sure you list specific CAT tools, since this is another area where translation companies use indexing and key word searches.
  • Provide information on your desktop publishing (DTP) capabilities. Skills in using DTP applications such as InDesign or QuarkXpress are good to have, as they might set you apart from other translators.
  • Proofread your resume thoroughly and have others proofread it. This is particularly important if your native language is not English. Of course, even native English speakers are not immune to typos and poorly worded English. Remember, you have designed your resume as a tool for selling your linguistic skills. If a resume is not flawless, your capabilities will appear questionable.
  • Include relevant association memberships and credentials, such as ATA certification.
  • Update your resume frequently. Sending out an updated resume is a good excuse to make additional contacts with translation companies. This will also help to keep your name fresh in the minds of prospective clients.

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