Did you know that Leonardo Da Vinci wrote the first CV 500 years ago? You can be the best painter, philosopher or writer in the world, but you still have to convince someone to pay you for it and you can reach this goal only by writing a perfect CV.
At Kwintessential we receive between 30-50 CVs per day, yes per day. Granted lots of them are scams and spam, but many aren’t. Of those that are genuine translators, probably only 1 in 10 translators make it onto our database, which in theory should lead to translation work. Why? Because their CVs are no good – they don’t present the information we want or expect to see on a CV.
The Project Managers, who deal with these CVs every day, thought it might be a good idea to list all the information they wish to see on the perfect CV. Here are their conclusions.
– The ideal CV length: your CV must not exceed two pages length.
– Formatting: do not use strange or small size font as they are not easy to read. It would be convenient to highlight or put in bold your master degree or your specialisation according to the job you are applying for. Here is an example: if you are applying for a medical translation job, you should put in bold your master degree in medical translation and so on. Try not to use any colours, crazy backgrounds or flowery page borders.
– Personal profile: the first thing you have to know when you are applying for a job in the UK is that English employers do not like to see a photo on your CV! Why? Because the photo may influence the employer’s decision based on looks or ethnicity. Therefore, the personal profile has to include only your name, address, telephone number, mother tongue, email address and Skype account.
– Brief description of yourself: after the personal profile, it is recommended to write a brief description of yourself in order to make your CV more captivating and to catch the translation agency’s attention. This description may start for example with “I am a freelance translator” followed by your motivations, translation skills and the languages you translate from and the ones you translate into.
– Work Experience: remember that in this section there is no need to write down that you have been working as waiter/waitress, shop assistant, baby-sitter and all these jobs that do not concern the translation field. Moreover, this information makes you look like you are not fully focused on your translation job. Always start from the most recent experiences you had to the oldest ones.
– Published works: if you are a translator it is very important for the agency to read about your published works such as research articles or translations. Include any URLs as these are quickly accessible.
– Education: always start from the most recent qualification you had to the oldest one. It is not necessary to include your marks unless you graduated Cum Laude. Do not forget to write down the translation courses you have been attending indicating the source and the target languages you worked with.
– Translation fields: if you are a specialised translator drop a line about your translation fields, such as medical, legal, technical, financial, business, commercial, audiovisual, website, tourism, or literary translation. It is also appreciated to have knowledge or experiences in the localization field.
– Languages: it is important to indicate your level of language skills for each language.
– Computer skills: it is very important for a translator to have a good knowledge of the main programmes used by almost every translation agency. Here a few examples: Trados or Wordfast CAT tools (Computer Assisted Translation) and other translation management systems. Obviously, it is requested an excellent knowledge of Windows and Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Power Point, Publisher).
– Interests: through your interests the agency is able to find out more details about your attitude and character. Common translator’s interests include travelling and reading. Try and be a bit different as this makes you stand out.
– Other information: it may be useful to know if you have a driving licence and your availability, especially if you are also an interpreter. If there is anything “extra” about your or your service, include it.
– Better an email than a cover letter: when you are about to send your CV, it will be better not to attach a cover letter (nobody is going to read it) but just write a few lines in the email with basic personal details, your specialisations, which CAT tools you have and the ones you are able to use. Moreover, your charge is optional (but agencies prefer to know it).
Written by Alberto Moya Garcia and Laura Febo, project managers at Kwintessential, a UK translation agency. For information about working with the agency, visit their vacancies page.