Apply for translation jobs with confidence.

As a long-term buyer of freelance translation services, we know exactly what we’re looking for when we receive a CV from a prospective freelancer. This article will give you clear examples and information relating to writing a cover letter and every part of your application, drawn from our sixteen years of experience in the translation and localisation industry.

Read part one of our tips for freelancers, in case you’ve missed it.

Contents:

  • Writing a cover letter
  • Example cover letter for a freelance translator
  • Writing a CV for a freelance translator
  • CV – Education
  • CV – Professional training
  • CV – Work history or experience
  • CV – Specialisations and languages
  • CV – CAT tools used
  • CV – Rates and methods of payment
  • Bonus tips

Without further ado then, here’s how to write the perfect CV for a freelance translator:The Cover LetterThis is a vital part of writing the CV that will get you that freelance gig. Cover letters are a great opportunity to:

  • Highlight the best bits of your CV
  • Show off your English writing skills

But it’s really the first bit that’s the most important. Your cover letter doesn’t need to be intricately flowing prose. Here’s an example of the sort of cover letter you should aim to write as a freelance translator:Example Cover Letter for a Freelance TranslatorDear {},

I´m a freelancing Chinese native speaker and former long-term resident of the UK with a good educational background and a large amount of expertise in a number of technical fields. Specialising in communications, IT, and technical equipment of all kinds, I have particular experience in translating instructions, service manuals and the like. 

It goes without saying that the accurate and timely completion of assignments is as important to me as it is to you.

I´m presently working with several agencies around the globe. My rate is flexible.

  • Trados Studio 2009 provides me with the appropriate tool to master any challenge.
  • My work capacity is 3000-4000 words per day.
  • Payment accepted via PayPal or MoneyBookers.

Please find my CV attached.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards,

{}

Yes, those are bullet points in the letter! Why mess around? What you really want to do is communicate the most important information clearly. Bullets are the perfect solution.The CVNow let’s get down to business. There’s a lot of ground to cover here, so let’s look at some of the individual sections that make up the perfect freelance translator CV:EducationThis should almost certainly be the first section of your CV, directly under basic information like your name, date of birth and contact details. The only argument for an exception could be if you have a particularly impressive former place of employment, in which case it might be worth considering putting your work experience section first.
Here’s an example of what the education portion of your CV might look like:

Example

2005-2008 University Name
  BA in Translation and Interpretation (English)
  Thesis Subject: Translation of Technical Texts With Electrical Engineering Terminology
2008-2011 University Name/ Higher or Distance Learning Course
  BA in Business Management

Notice that in addition to having a full degree in translation and interpretation this example applicant has also completed a qualification in a specialist field.Professional TrainingThis section includes the kind of professional courses you might have decided to attend personally, or have been able to access via other employers in the past. Much like any additional qualifications you might have, they’re a great way to show the areas where you have particular knowledge.

Example

December 2005 Gas reservoir and production engineering training
June 2007 Workstation evaluator training (office ergonomics)
May 2008 Synchronic Interpreter Certification – Synchronous Interpreting of Business Meetings training course to/from English
August 2008 Personal Fitness Trainer Certification

Notice that this example applicant also included some training that’s outside of their stated area of specialism. In this case, they’re also a certified fitness trainer.If you do have additional qualifications you want to highlight – such as the synchronous interpreter training mentioned in the example – they might be worth putting in your education section as they’re more likely stand to out.Work History or ExperienceHopefully, this will be the largest portion of your CV . But even if you’re just starting out as a freelance translator, you should be able to provide enough detail of your responsibilities in positions you’ve held in the past to show off your skills.

Example

April 2005 – May 2006 Random Oil Company
 Translator
– Translation of technical documentation
– Translation of correspondence
– Translation of documentation for tenders, reports, financial documents, contracts, etc
– Compiling vocabularies and glossaries
– Filing technical documentation and reports
– Assistance in pipeline construction project planning work
– Administrative assistance for Chief Operating Officer
– Scribing and developing minutes of meetings
December 2005 Local Authority
– Observer’s Assistant For Local Election
– Interpreting/ translation
– General language assistance
February 2006  A. N. Other Oil Production Services
– Interpreter
– Interpreter for training course on gas reservoir and production engineering
June 2006 – Current Self-employed
– Freelance Technical Translator and Interpreter
– Translation of clients’ technical documentation
– Translation and notarisation of personal documents
– Interpreting for training courses and meetings
– Compiling my own glossaries and vocabularies
– Creating unique content for marketing purposes
– Marketing of goods and services through social media

Notice that this example applicant hasn’t been afraid to really pinpoint their exact duties and the types of translations they completed in the positions they’ve held. You should be able to find some ideas here for responsibilities you’ve had before but which you might not have immediately thought to add to your own CV.Specialisations and LanguagesThis fairly self-explanatory section will include all of the languages you speak, indicate your level of fluency, and highlight the language pairs you work in as well as the fields and sub-fields where you have specialist knowledge.

Example

Languages

  • Mandarin (native)
  • English (fluent)
  • Cantonese (fluent)
  • French (basic)

Working language pairs:

  • Mandarin – English
  • English – Mandarin

Specialisations:

  • Geophysics, geology and oil and gas field development
  • Oil and gas tools and equipment
  • Drilling
  • Power generation
  • Production control systems and instrumentation
  • Electrical engineering
  • IT
  • Safety and Security
  • Marketing
  • Fitness training

CAT Tools UsedThis is part of your skills and experience that you really want to emphasise. Many translation agencies have their own favoured tools, so it’s worth conducting a little research to see if you can discover what these might be. You can then point to your own expertise in using them to make your application more attractive.

Example

  • SDT Trados Studio 2011
  • MemoQ
  • DejaVu
  • Wordfast Anywhere
  • Wordfast Pro

Rates and Methods of PaymentDon’t neglect this or leave a vague statement about how you’re “open to negotiation.” You’ve already mentioned in your cover letter that your rate is flexible. There’s no need to belabour the point.

It’s also worth including any discounts you offer, for exact matches for example, or extras that will be added on for urgent projects (usually a percentage).

Example

Translation:

  • English-Chinese: from 0.08 GBP per source word
  • Chinese-English: from 0.08 GBP per source word

Proofreading:

  • English-Chinese: from 0.05 GBP per source word
  • Chinese-English: from 0.05 GBP per source word

Interpreting:

  • From 30GBP per hour + travelling and accommodation expenses

Bonus TipsDo – Put your details in the subject of your email

Let those decision makers find you easily by putting your details in the subject section of your email.

Don’t – Apply (if you don’t fit the requirements)

For some job vacancies in other industries, it’s worth sending a CV even if you don’t quite the meet stated requirements. Perhaps your ability to learn very quickly will still make you a great fit?

Sadly, translating isn’t one of these jobs. If a translation company is searching for a Trados translator and an applicant replies stating their interest but their preference for not using Trados…

Everyone’s time is wasted.

Don’t – Apply (for something you’re not)

For instance, we always prefer for a linguist to be translating into their mother tongue. So to request that native Japanese translators apply for a role and then to receive emails from people with “a good knowledge” of Japanese is faintly perplexing at best!

Don’t – Be arrogant

When you’re applying for a job you need to be willing to accept the requirements stated in the advert.

In the past, we’ve had applicants say that they “require an advance payment in order to commit” themselves to the task, or baldly stating that they “do not provide discounts” for repeated words, for example.

Either of these is usually an easy way to get an applicant assigned to the “not suitable” pile. Make sure you read the requirements carefully – because that’s not where you want to be!

Don’t – Forget to attach your CV

Many applicants deliberately leave their CV unattached even when an attached file is requested in the advert. Sometimes they’ll provide a link to their LinkedIn or Proz profile in their cover letter or copy and paste the whole CV into the email. Don’t do this!

There’ll always be a reason that a Language Service Provider will ask for your CV to be sent as an attached file. Perhaps they want to forward it to the project manager or client, or to save it for future needs. Plus if you’re applying for any job you don’t want to be giving the person that could be hiring you any reason not to want to do so.Example CV for a Freelance TranslatorThat’s all of the most important information to include in your freelance translator CV. This template should enable you to write an application that quickly tells any decision maker what they need to know about you, and why they should hire you.

If you’ve ever been in charge of hiring personnel for a project before you’ll know that the applicants who make things easy are the ones you automatically start to favour.

If you’ve had great success applying for jobs as a freelance translator in the past, why not add a few pearls of wisdom into our comments section below?

And if you’re currently looking for work as a freelance translator visit our Vacancies page and fill out our form.