Lesson 59: Do translators need CVs?

Lesson 59: Do translators need CVs?

When I published my new ebook on CVs in the translation industry, I also invited all readers to answer a few questions in an online survey. Apart from feedback from my publication, I also wanted to know your views on the importance of CVs in our profession – do translators need CVs? It seems to me that there are two different approaches to this topic.

Some of our colleagues say that CVs shouldn’t be used by translators when trying to land projects. According to this perspective, translators are professionals who should be chosen on the grounds of the samples of their work, their websites or brochures, but not really on their CVs. One colleague suggested sending a more comprehensive document:

  • I never send a CV. Instead I send a Resumé with a description of services provided; project references and financial and legal terms and conditions. This always accompanies a detailed offer for the requested work. This gives a client a clear idea of what they can expect.
  • It’s an interesting approach, I agree. Another colleague underlines the importance of profiles:

  • As a translator, I am opining that I do not need a CV. This is my very personal and quite extreme opinion – I know-, and I respect every other opinion. My profile (LinkedIn, AIPTI) must be enough, and until now, I have enough work no to change anything to my politics. I do not even have a website either as a translator (I think I would have one if I had more time to deal with its creation) and I am not to find on ProZ.
  • According to my personal experience, I think that CV is not as important as the actual translation samples, whether of translation tests required by companies/direct clients or samples from past projects. However, the CV is necessary as a tool for introducing ourselves to our prospective clients.
  • In the other view, which I share, if we use our CVs in the right place and time with the right clients, they can be a great marketing tool. Of course, we need to remember that a freelancer’s CV is totally different from an employee’s CV and that we should have more than one CV. I believe that a clearly written CV can help us showcase our experience and background better with clients who are used to seeing CVs. Some colleagues agree with me:

  • I think it’s pretty important to rely on your CV. It gives owners of translation agencies and possible clients a clear overview of the translation experience you have
  • Do you use CVs to market your services

  • I think Cvs are important for translators, but we have to adapt it to our needs, the type of vacancy/job and even to the area in the translation industry. I created my own “style” or type of CV and some months ago I was invited to have an interview because of the originality of my CV. So, I really think it is very important to rely on a (good and original) CV.
  • My opinion is, whatever you work with, CVs are our presentation to the work world.
  • Another thing to remember is that many of our clients are simply used to selecting based on CVs. As I explain in my ebook, the CV format is a mental shortcut to help assess the person for his or her suitability to do the job well. This is certainly true with translation companies, and with a number of direct clients, too. Sending a well-crafted and convincing CV to a client who’s been assessing others on this basis forever may help you land the job.

    But I’m sure some of you will say: if you go to a doctor (or a lawyer), you don’t ask for a CV. True, you don’t ask for it, but they certainly have their CVs. In a discussion I had with a good colleague of mine who also happens to be a lawyer, he said that we should make a mental shift from thinking about “employees’ CVs” to “directors’ CVs”. In other words, we should stop thinking that we’re asked for our CV because the person on the other side of the relationship doubts our skills or wants to have a proof of our experience (both cases implying the lack of trust) and start thinking that our CVs are there to help the other party make an informed decision by showcasing our background, we may. No doubt, CEOs have CVs, so what’s wrong with translators having them, too?

    In the survey, I asked “What is your opinion on the role of CVs in the translation industry? Should they serve as a basis for considering?” and I had a few responses. You can see them below. If you click on the image, it will become bigger and easier to read.

    Translators chosen based on CVs

    Other comments included:

    • I do think that resumes are important in this profession, especially because it needs to reflect your personality as well as your skills and experience. However, I feel like nothing works better than word-of-mouth and networking.
    • I have already downloaded your e-book, and I find it very useful, as writing a CV is a vital issue, specially for translators, whose CVs must have their own features to work, as you say in your ebook. Indeed I think that having a good CV is massively important for a translator.
    • I think CV is very important to reach at the people for work. But it’s not all. CV shows years of experience, various fields where you already work, all these points impress the new client to give you a new translation project.
    • I really think the CVs are one of the most important marketing tools. I think that it is the best way to demonstrate skills and experience and CVs address more clients as it is the most traditional way.
    • CVs should be considered very important because they reflect how professional translators are.
    • I think Cvs are important for translators, but we have to adapt it to our needs, the type of vacancy/job and even to the area in the translation industry. I created my own “style” or type of CV and some months ago I was invited to have an interview because of the originality of my CV. So, I really think it is very important to rely on a (good and original) CV.
    • As I am still a translation and interpreting student, so little water has passed over the bridge so far, but I think a cv is really important for all professionals and especially for translators and interpreters. Through this one, we show our skills, capacities, competences and all what we can do as human beings.

    Thanks to all contributors! What is your opinion on CVs for translators? Are you using a CV? Do you think there are other, more effective tools?


    1. Riccardo Schiaffino (@RSchiaffino) , on Aug 14, 2013 at 21:27 Reply

      Not sure I understand that bar graph. The question is “How important is a CV in marketing your services”. I assume that the y axis measures the number of respondents, but what does the x axis measure? Is “1 = very important”, or “1=not important at all”?

      • Marta Stelmaszak , on Aug 14, 2013 at 22:38 Reply

        Hi Riccardo! sorry, it was clear to me but it’s obviously not clear at all if you look at the graph. 1 = I hardly ever rely on my CV, 3 = I usually market my services with my CV

    2. Eve Bodeux , on Aug 22, 2013 at 19:03 Reply

      Hi – interesting article. I personally think it depends on who your “client” is. If it is an end client, I never send what we think of as a “CV” in our industry. I send a “consulting profile” describing what I can do for them, along with a proposal if appropriate. I also customize my profile for each client. It is a one page doc with my photo. I want to make them feel I can help them solve their problem as opposed to giving the impression that I am “asking for a job/project”. If I apply to work with translation agencies, I do submit a more standard CV since that is normally what they expect (especially if I do not have an introduction or referral to the agency staff). I want to make it easy for them to have the info they (think they) want at their finger tips.

      • Marta Stelmaszak , on Jan 3, 2015 at 23:44 Reply

        Thank you, Eve, and I believe it’s a good strategy 🙂

    3. Lukasz Gos , on Oct 11, 2013 at 13:26 Reply

      Having a CV is not really a cry for employment like some freelance translators seem to think. All sorts of important people have CVs, it doesn’t make you a job applicant. On the other hand, you can live without one. I don’t have one on my website, actually, though I do on Proz.com

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