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.
When you welcome a guest post, please make sure to warn readers ahead of time (i.e. on top) that this is translation agency (broker, intermediary, you name them, but anything but “language service provider”, since translators are the only language service providers – which shows how dishonest these greedy brokers are: they rob translators financially, and also their name!!!)’s… bullshit.
Indeed a sentence like “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” is a total LIE !
Only 50% of translation brokers use CAT tools, and those are the worst for translators. Usually big brokers who only see translation as a matter of: how many K words x how many peanuts. Crooks.
People who use computer programmes to rob translators should be BANNED from the translation profession.
They DO NOT UNDERSTAND what translation is all about.
For centuries, freelance translators have been know for being poor.
So what idiotic or crazy person thought it might be legitimate to rob them further?…
According to Proz quick polls, using CAT tools has NOT made translators richer. It was just a way of getting orders they might have missed otherwise, but at a lower rate than usual.
So CAT tools are making translators poorer and honest translation agencies do not use them.
If they want a rebate, that has to be discussed on a per case basis.
Today’s brokers’ mentality that this “Trados rebate” is due to them is a LIE.
There is no law or rule or even business sector habit entitling them to such huge and dishonest rebate!!!
Proz crooks and greedy translation brokers are trying to impress new translators, they LIE to them, trying to make them believe that they might not have enough work without those CAT tools (in which name, the term “aided” is a LIE too).
CAT tools do NOT “aid” translators.
They are only designed to ROB them.
Just like PEMpT (Post-Editing Machine (pseudo-)Translation), the latest invention of crazy computer engineers WHO DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT TRANSLATION.
Thank you very much.
The only useful tip in this very long blog post is to HIGHLIGHT the parts of your CV that relate to the job you are applying for.
The rest is total bullshit. It is usual CV matters. It is also quite common sense.
So robbing people’s time by having them read all this useless stuff…
And my CV is several pages long (also used for SEO purposes, so….) and nobody complains about it…
And let’s also not forget that U.K. agencies are among the worst (indeed, the U.K. legislation allows them to disappear overnight without paying…), so who cares what a handful of U.K. PMs think…
Thank you for your comment. I don’t agree with your opinion about LSPs; yes, some of them are exactly what you describe, but there are also wonderful companies out there that can be very valuable partners. This coming from a translator whose clients are more than 90% agencies.
As for UK agencies in particular, believe me, they are not the worst ones by far. Just yesterday, I heard that a Greek agency is using Google Translate daily and then delivers the results to its company clients who have no idea. Not to mention another Greek agency that offers EUR 0.015/word for translation and half of that for editing!
As for CAT tools, I think they are indispensable tools for our work. Consistency, concordance, terminology, re-use of old translations; how would we do all that without those tools?
Now as for translator CVs, I think it has a lot to do with personal preference. Several years back before I had a website, I had an 8-page CV. I remember PMs telling me how detailed and impressive it was. I’ve narrowed it down to 1 page now, which I prefer. Direct clients and PMs can check out my website for all kinds of extra info.
I agree with some of the things mentioned in this post, like fields, languages, education, tools. I don’t agree with a few others, like interests, published works and work experience (if it’s not relevant your translation profile, say waiter at the Hard Rock Cafe).
Have a lovely weekend 🙂
It appears that Isabelle has had some very bad experience with Agencies. As with all industries, there are good and bad ambassadors; but please don’t tar us all with the same brush.
Your comments could not be further removed from the feedback we receive from our Translators, many of whom have enjoyed working relationships with Kwintessential over many years.
We online survey our translators annually (and anonymously!) to find out their true feelings on our working practices and rates, and the feedback we receive has always been good.
Regarding the comments on CAT tools; whether we like it or not, advancing technology is a fact of life and we either embrace it and move forward, or risk falling behind the ever increasing pace of the world. CAT tools improve quality and consistancy of terminology. They are not a tool to pay translators less, but are an aid to a better quality translation.
MT will ever replace good human translation, but it has an important part to play in a world that has become more connected and where people have access to more information, and the inevitable growing demands that brings to communicate more effectively across languages.
Very well said, thanks Emma 🙂
Agreed, well said Emma! There are good and bad agencies in every country, just as there a good and bad translators. If you do your homework using the Payment Practices website or the Proz Blue Board, you can usually avoid the dodgy ones. If you’ve had a bad experience, learn from it and move on.
I also feel very strongly that CAT tools are useful for translators, not just for clients or agencies. I don’t use mine to give all sorts of discounts (and I rarely get asked to, in fact), I use it to make my life easier. I like the interface, I like the in-built quality control functions. I use it regardless of whether I’m asked to. Don’t know what I’d do without it, actually!
Dear All Above:
1) The agency Kwintessential is not answering my basic arguments, like stating that ALL agencies are using CAT tools is a LIE. This is typical of those liers.
2) CAT tools have been created for the SOLE purpose of robbing translators on supposed repetitions in the source text. This would not have happened if translators had used the AUTOCORRECT functions of MS Word as: a) a TYPING ACCELERATOR, b) a TERMINOLOGY DATABASE. So they wrongly thing that CAT tools are the ONLY answer to this legitimate needs.
3) In today’s translation world, intermediaries/brokers are making more and more money on freelance translators.
4) They use ABUSIVE LANGUAGE, like calling themselves “LANGUAGE SERVICE PROVIDERS”, which seems to exclude freelance translators from the picture, which is totally UNACCEPTABLE!
They also pretend to “HIRE” freelance translators and that they want freelance translators to consider them as “EMPLOYERS”!
5) Seasoned translators admit that ONLY 10% OF AGENCIES ARE GOOD TO TRANSLATORS: that’s VERY LITTLE and I don’t think Kwintessential should be counted among them, given the above totally abusive and unacceptable speech!
6) Freelance translators should TURN TO END-CUSTOMERS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE IN THEIR CAREERS. The alternative is to continue to be treated like dogs by abusive intermediaries, to live in poverty their whole lives, etc. Which is obviously what Catherine Christaki is doing. From her present picture (not the very old one she abusively uses for Twitter), it is obvious she is living in sheer POVERTY and it is NOT ACCEPTABLE!
7) Agencies are fine for the beginning of a freelance career, but translators MUST MOVE ON to working for end-customers DIRECTLY. Of course, this speech is contrary to the interests of intermediaries/brokers, so they try to discourage it.
Any other comment? Thank you.
Yikes, so much anger! My only further comment is to suggest that you read a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago, on working with agencies as a freelance translator.
My main point is that, although bad agencies certainly exist, there are many good ones out there too, and that working for them is beneficial to the translator no matter what stage in their career they are at. You will see that several ‘seasoned’ translators agree with my point of view.
At the end of the day though, all of this is exactly that: a matter of viewpoints. You are entitled to dislike working with agencies, and to say so. You are equally entitled to disagree with whatever anyone writes in their blog. For future reference though, you may to find a way of expressing your opinions that is more respectful.
To this end, I reiterate my support for Kwintessential and also for Catherine. Though I can’t be sure, I doubt she lives in poverty. I certainly can’t tell from any pictures of her that I have seen.
Thanks Eline 🙂
Seriously?! It’s obvious I’m living in sheer poverty from my photos?? Good thing I know many people on social media, I’ll start a support campaign and ask them for their spare change 🙂
Isabelle, your comment definitely qualifies as spam, but I’ll leave it here as a perfect example for all of us of what NOT to do online. Thank you.
Catherine and others: please don’t waste your energy on Isabelle F. Brucher.
She’s a well-known Twitter troll with a big anger problem and too much free time.
Just ignore her and she’ll go away.
Thanks for the warning Paul 🙂
Someone needs anger management classes or perhaps just a class in basic human decency and manners. At this point, this amounts to cyberbullying.
While I usually don’t share my opinion about comments that are entirely inappropiate, because nothing good can come out of it, I will chime in here. Professionals who understand netiquette are aware of what can be said and what not in a public forum. Insulting others, especially the lovely author of this blog, obviously falls into the latter category. We need to agree to disagree. I remember some of these lessons from early childhood, as most of us do.
Reasonable professionals understand that there are many ways to earn a great living in this industry, and that there is no one correct answer. Obviously Catherine, who is one of the best-known English to Greek translators on the planet, has figured out how to have a very profitable and great working relationship with agencies, who highly value her (as they should). My business model is different, but that’s ok. If you don’t like working with agencies, don’t do it! So go look for direct clients, who like to work with educated, friendly, competent, lovely people who get along with others and don’t insult colleagues on public forums.
The comment about sheer poverty almost made me fall out of my chair laughing! Too funny! As someone who has been to Catherine’s house in Athens and who’s been a very spoiled guest of hers, it’s important to point out that this (completely offensive) comment could not be further from the truth.
Actually, Catherine and Christos are here in Vegas with me and are staying in a very nice hotel for three weeks. It’s their second trip to the US in a month. They must be very poor indeed.
Thanks for your lovely comment Judy and also a great thank you to all our good friends who showed their love and support in the comments, on social media and by email. I had to spam Isabelle’s latest (6) comments for being overly aggressive and insulting, not only to me but to other commenters and translation agencies in general. I won’t comment any further because that will only give her an excuse to publish more rants. I will keep the comments open though for anyone who wants to post any questions or feedback regarding this particular post.
I just found this post thanks to the reaction on Twitter and, as I have already said there, I would like to say that I stand by Catherine and offer my full support. She is not only a well-known and respected translator, but such a lovely person.
Like Judy said, we need to agree to disagree. It would actually be boring if all of us had the same opinion. However, the way we express it makes all the difference in the world. Throwing insults at each other does not help. Yes, it may cause a bit of a stir, it may bring attention to someone’s profile, but at the end of the day it will have done nothing good.
We are all professionals (be it freelancers or agencies) and our behaviour – online or offline – should reflect that.