How to Write a Job-Winning Freelance Translator’s CV

Are you looking for a new translator job or contract? If so, you are about to enter a tight competition. Translators are in huge demand, but there are many people vying for the available jobs. If you want to win business, you’ve got to stand out from the pack. That means your CV has to impress.

A CV is a sales document. Its purpose is to convince someone to hire you or, at the very least, land you an interview. It’s a key that can open up a world of work opportunities, paving the way to a successful career in translating.

With a well-written CV, you can demonstrate how you weave your linguistic magic. And because you are a translator, people expect it to be a language masterpiece. Anything less, and it will be thrown into the reject pile.

This article explains how to create a translator CV that will help you secure an interview, and potentially your next gig.

1. What recruiters want to see in your CV

A manager, HR professional or recruiter who reviews your CV knows exactly what to look for. Therefore, if you want to stand out, your CV has to shine and include everything the reader wants to see. In no particular order, a translator’s CV should consist of the following elements.

Up-to-date contact information: This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of freelancers that don’t include correct contact details. So, make sure you do so that it’s easy for potential employers to get in touch with you.

Language pair(s): You can put this in the email subject line, for example: ‘Experienced German to English Legal Translation Expert.’ Doing this allows the person reading your CV to immediately know which languages you translate, so that he or she doesn’t have to search for the information.

Areas of expertise: Nowadays, very few agencies or companies hire general translators, especially as machine translators improve. Many employers are after specialists such as legal translators, medical translators, engineering translators and so on. Therefore, highlight your expertise. If you specialize in more than one area, create different versions of your CV tailored to each industry.

Accomplishments: Include this section to show that you’re a skilled translator with a lot to offer. Accomplishments that you can list down are awards and honors that you’ve received. If you are a recent graduate, you can insert any student awards you have or another form of recognition. Impress the reader with evidence of skills and qualities that set you apart from the competition.

Relevant past projects and experience: Summarize your translation experience and relevant employment. Condense these details into areas of expertise and be as specific as possible. If you have signed NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) with some clients, you may not be able to list their names. Also, include any relevant work experience related to your linguistic career.

Education history & relevant qualifications: These are the foundations of your expertise. Include any relevant qualifications and certifications, where you obtained them from and when. List certifications if you have any. You can include “certified” or “accredited” in your CV headline.

CAT tools & software: Indicate the CAT tools and other software you use, which versions and your level of expertise. Mention any specialized software. Companies are looking for translators who make the most of the available technology.

Services you provide besides translation: These may include copy editing, proofreading and voiceover work. Such capabilities can give companies additional reasons to hire you.

2. Write a brief professional summary

A summary is a golden opportunity to sell your skills and grab the reader’s attention. It should be clear, concise and compelling. It should not be too long – around 5 to 10 lines are enough. When writing your summary, think of your intended audience, the person reading your CV. It should be tailored to them. Here’s an example:

Dear [Name of recruiter],

I am an experienced [language pair] translator based in [City, Country], and I would like to offer my service to your company for upcoming translation projects.

I have extensive experience in translating [Insert your expertise, i.e. medical] content.

I use the following tools: [Insert CAT tools and software that you can use]

Please see my attached CV for further information. References are available upon request.

Thank you!

Best regards,

[Your name]

3. Choose an easy-to-read layout

Ensure your CV is easy to read. A well-structured layout will create a winning first impression because the person reading it will be able to find information quickly.

Large chunks of text are a reader’s worst nightmare, so use short paragraphs instead. Create different sections and use clear, bold headings. You can also use bullet points to help recruiters navigate your CV more easily.

4. Use facts and figures

Make your CV shine with facts and figures. This is a way to demonstrate your value and stand out from the competition. You can use numbers to show your years of experience and the projects you have completed for clients. For example:

I have more than 10 years of experience in translation and proofreading. Here are some recent projects:

Translating 12,000 words of User Manuals for a leading medical device manufacturer, English to German

Translating 65,000 words of Legal Contracts for several international corporations, English to German

5. Keep it concise

The ideal length for a freelance translator CV is one or two pages. Recruiters read hundreds of CVs, so cutting to the chase is vital. Nobody wants to read rambling sentences when a few words will suffice. Moreover, busy people don’t have time to wade through lengthy resumes.

If you’re struggling to fit everything into one or two pages, consider how relevant the information is for the job you’re after. If it’s not appropriate, delete it.

Final thoughts

Anything less than a flawless CV risks instant rejection. Therefore, check and double check everything, especially spelling and grammar. Choose your words carefully and make sure you are demonstrating the value you can bring to an organization.

Writing the perfect translator CV takes time, thought and effort. However, by creating an impressive document you can position yourself ahead of the competition and take a big step toward securing your next contract.

Good luck!

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