Thursday, March 02, 2006

Advice To Beginning Translators (1) - Résumés

Sometimes I receive e-mails from young colleagues that are just getting started in our profession, asking for practical advice from someone with more experience.
When I receive such messages, I try to answer and be helpful. A couple of weeks ago I received one such request, and, with my correspondent permission, I'll also report here the parts that I think may be more generally helpful:

I have a university degree in modern languages, I also studied management in England, where I worked for a while; on my return to Italy I worked in a "new economy" company. While working in marketing and in an IT I did some business and technical translations.
Now I would like to get some real translation work from translation agencies or IT firms, but I realize that I do not know how to market myself: Last year i tried to e-mail some agencies and companies, but without getting any answer.
I was wondering if you could give me some tip on how to contact prospects without selling myself short,

Let's start with a few remarks about your résumé:

  1. Make it easy for whomever is going to look at your résumé to find the information they expect.
    Draft a different résumé for each market, conforming to each country's standards: for instance, in France people normally include their photos in their résumés, in Italy they include their birth date, but, for examples, both things should be excluded from a résumé sent to a US company. Also, in some countries a résumé should be put in chronological order, while in others a reverse chronological order is preferred.
  2. Clearly indicate at the top of your résumé your language pair and the position for which you apply (e.g. "English > Italian Freelance Translator", or "Spanish > English Interpreter")
  3. List your work experience before your education. (An exception could be if you have so little work experience that your education is more likely to impress your prospect).
  4. As regards your work experience, rather than a list of translations done, I think it is better to indicate the kind of job you did, and your specializations: e.g., "2002-2004: Freelance Translator, specialized in business software documentation (especially CRM applications) and software localization..."
  5. List professional associations to which you belong, publications, etc.

You can find some further pieces of advice in an article I wrote a few years ago, when i managed a translation team for a large software company. The title of the article is "How Not to Be Hired", and you can find it here.


  1. I read your article "How Not to Be Hired" and it is interestingly organized. However, there are spelling and grammar mistakes that you should fix, especially since you are giving advice of this kind. After reading it as is, I'm not sure if I would hire you.

  2. Thank you for your input: the presentation is from several years ago, and there were, in fact, a few things to improve.

    Thanks again,


  3. Hello, my name is Ixchel El Halabi, I have a degree in Modern Language and I would like to do some test online about translation because I need to improve my english vocabulary (my modern language is Spanish). If you know some page I could visit please let me know. my email is
    take care.


Thank you for your comment!

Unfortunately, comment spam has grown to the point that all comments need to be moderated. All legitimate comments will be published as soon as possible.