BlogBusiness School for Translators
Lesson 41: Must-haves of a translator’s CV
It’s been over a year since I published my “How to write a translator’s CV” and taking into account the number of downloads a day you still think it’s relevant. I’m very happy that I could help some of you with my advice, and you’re always welcome to send your CV to me to get some feedback.
But the industry changes and we’re bound to try new things to get more clients. I always review my CVs (yes, more than one!) every three months, and this time they called for a major overhaul (yes, you can overhaul your CV). I jotted down all my ideas and I’d love to share them with you now. To do that, I printed out a copy of my CV and I recommend you to do the same. We’ll go through them at the same time.
Let’s start with the structure. Make sure that you have all of these sections on your CV. I have a pencil in my hand and I’m ticking them off as well.
1. Name – mine is there, together with my titles
Do you think that adding all your BAs, MAs and other WOWs just behind or in front of your name is a good idea? I’ve seen various cases. I decided to add them after I read a CV of one translator who just by the end of the document revealed she was in the middle of the PhD in translation. Now that is something you want to tell your clients right away. I wouldn’t like not to get the job just because they didn’t know I have some qualifications. What are your views?
2. Contact details – present!
Translators put a whole range of details on their CVs, from obvious telephone numbers, through addresses, to places of birth. I use a simple rule to determine which details should be there: does my potential client need this information? My clients need my telephone number, my email address, my website address and a rough idea about my location. I’d never ever include: my exact address, my date and place of birth, my photo and my marital status on my CV. Why? I’m concerned about identity thefts and I think these details are not relevant at all. Do you agree?
3. Headline – happily standing out
A professional headline is a must. If you have one, you’re already way ahead of your competition. Identifying your language pair and stating what you do is essential to handle your CV properly in a multi-language agency. Just imagine you’re a Project Manager and you receive dozens of CVs every day. Wouldn’t it be much easier for you to deal with them if you could identify the language and purpose straight away? And we all know that a happy PM is a good PM.
4. Summary – tick.
This part is a summary of you as a professional. Don’t forget to mention all the good things about you: experience, abilities, knowledge, USP, maybe availability and daily output? And I think it’s a good place to mention your areas of specialisation. I use bullet points to make them more visible.
5. Key Achievements – on my CV
This bit may be quite controversial. Not every translator agrees that it is relevant. I think it’s a good pitch. Well, you start with telling your reader that you have something called “key achievements” – it subconsciously says you’re good. And it’s a good place to show your involvement with the profession. All bloggers, Twitterers, or Facebookers can mention their activities here. Why not? It counts as long as it makes you stand out.
6. Experience – of course!
This section of our CVs is always crucial. In there the reader decides if you’re up to the job and if they’re going to give you this project. Make sure that your experience is relevant, rich, and impressive. If you don’t want to or can’t mention your clients (privacy, NDAs, confidentiality), you can always list your most recent (or most relevant) projects in a given domain. I also add word count of my projects, because I believe that numbers work best with convincing clients.
7. Memberships – done
Is it just me, or do you always try to find people’s memberships as well? In my opinion it is a very important point in a freelancer’s career, because it shows that you’re affiliated with a regulatory/advisory/statutory body and you’re representing similar values as these organisations do. I’m not that sure of putting logos of organisations on your CV. What do you think?
8. Education – as well
Some of you may disagree with listing education so far down on your CV. However, in translation more than in any other domain, it’s not our education that is the decisive aspect. It is relevant and sometimes required, but in most of the cases we’re assessed based on our experience. In my education, I always try to give some examples of modules I took.
9. Software – not on my CV
I still think it’s a very important issue on our CVs, but I decided to leave it out for now. I mention that I use Trados in my summary and that’s it. The rest is mentioned on my website, but I assume that my clients know I’m a proficient user of MS Office, Windows, some Mac knowledge, etc. We’re bound to be tech-savvy, aren’t we?
10. Skills and interests – on some versions of my CV
Right, so there’s no way I can keep to 2 pages if I’m going to add all these details. I decided to have an abridged version of my CV for specific domains and a longer, 3-page CV covering virtually everything.
11. Professional development – carefully selected
I picked those events and training sessions that are relevant to the domain on which a specific version of my CV concentrates. To make it simpler, my legal translation CV gives only my legal CPD. Clear, easy, and works wonders.
12. Publications – yes
Just in case someone gets to the end of my CV and is still hesitant, I add a section on my publications and presentations. Wouldn’t you hire someone who’s giving talks? Everything counts, from an article written to a language-related publication to a presentation on just about anything. Try to impress them!
13. References – not quite sure
I add: “References available upon request” because I feel that I have to close my CV somehow. But I feel it’s the weakest part of my CV. How do you go about it? Do you add contact details to your referees or short testimonials?
Online CV tips
- If it’s an online CV, what about adding links?
- What about your social media presence? Do you link it to your CV?
- Ever thought of linking your samples to your CV?
- Visual CV like this one: http://www.vizualize.me/mstelmaszak?