How to write a successful CV for the translation industry
So you’ve decided that the time has come and you want to get work as a translator. You’ve completed your degree or found some great opportunities and all you need to do is send your CV to potential clients and just start translating… Stop. Send your CV? Well, in order to be able to do that, you’ll first need to have one!
With a great wealth of tips on writing CVs available on-line, one can get really confused. Moreover, everyone is unique, so some people will prefer one format over another. But I believe that there are some rules that one should follow whatever their tastes.
• Use simple, clear formatting. Use tables or tabs rather than spaces. Just imagine how your CV would look if the formatting wasn’t displayed correctly.
• Use headings and sections to organise it properly. I looked through 30+ CVs to decide what headings to use and decided to include these (in approximate order of importance):
o Professional objective (your slogan, if you have one)
o Profile (brief description of your background or the type of work that you’re looking for)
o Your language combination(s)
o Translation specialities (Subjects you have sufficient experience in)
o Education & Qualifications
o Professional experience (forget the time when you were a waiter, though. Be ruthless and delete everything that isn’t relevant)
o Recently completed projects (only the most recent ones, or those you are most proud of)
o Resources (both software and relevant hardware)
o Memberships & Certifications
o Recent professional events (if any)
o Personal interests (briefly!)
It is entirely up to you whether you follow the same format – but make sure to include everything that is relevant and skip everything that isn’t.
• Keep to the point. Especially bullet point – rather than using full sentences. Potential clients won’t want to read an essay and you will only have seconds to convince them to use your services. So keep it short and concise.
• Include personal information such as marital status, gender or date of birth. Surprisingly many translators do this – but to what end? You may, however, include your nationality or – better – native language, as it is relevant.
• Use fancy fonts that are difficult to read or uncommon. Your CV needs to be easy to read and to display properly on as many computers as possible. For example, it’s better to use Arial than Calibri: some computers will not have been updated for ages and won’t have Calibri installed on the system.
• Go over two pages. It is incredible, but having looked through many translators’ CVs, almost half of them were longer than that, some being 7 (!) pages long. Even though I was doing research on translators’ CVs, I just couldn’t be bothered to go through it all – and your potential clients won’t, either.
Of course, these two lists aren’t exhaustive, but I hope that they give you a better idea of what to do. If you find them useful – or if you don’t – please share in comments! What has worked for you? What would you recommend?
Happy translation job hunting!
Guest post by Anna Lycett, a local Polish translator.