Information to include in a cover letter to agency... (e.g., rates)
Thread poster: Maciek Drobka

Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:03
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Dec 19, 2006

Hi all,

I am not sure this is the right forum to post this, but here it goes.

Somewhere in January or February, after polishing my CV and setting up a Web site, I am planning to contact a million translation agencies to offer my translation service.

I've been wondering what information to include/not to include in my e-mail cover letter. If prozians could shed some light from an outsourcer's perspective, I'll be very grateful.

Specifically, there are 3 issues.
1. Should I state my target rate in the cover letter? If I don't, will outsourcers think, 'All's fine, but WHERE IS THE RATE?!', or not? Or does it depend?
2. Is it a good idea to say very politely that I don't usually do test translations unless they are paid, and refer outsourcers to my proz.com profile page, which includes quite a few representative samples?
3. Is it better to attach a pdf-based CV to my e-mail or, to avoid my e-mail being considered a virus, place a link to my CV in the e-mail text?

Any thoughts and examples from your own experience will be welcome.

Maciek


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TrueBaller  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:03
Albanian to English
+ ...
Some Tips to Use in Preparing and Sending E-mail Cover Letters Dec 19, 2006

Maciek,

Here are some tips from experience and from what I have read that I would like to share with you (and other fellow prozians interested) regarding your question and concerns:

 make sure you know ( if not, learn!) the rules of a dynamic e-mail cover letter.
 Use the subject line of the e-mail to attract the reader into your cover letter.
 Your opening paragraph is critical. It has to be dynamic: Show your enthusiasm, and your sense of purpose in writing that letter.
 Keep your cover letter short.
 Use keywords that relate to the specific job you are seeking, and focus on key critical skills that each client needs and requests. Use noun phrases with key words crucial to the work you will be doing. Remember many firms and companies will enter your cover letter in their database.
 Use ONLY plain text: black font, normal size and typeface (10 point, Arial, Helvetica, Times Roman), on a white background. Using your e-mail does not mean you can use all kinds of formats to create your cover letter.
 Avoid the use of emoticons, abbreviations, wild colors, and other cool techniques and shortcuts we usually use in e-mails.
 Don't abandon standard business letter writing guidelines. Therefore, make sure you include a salutation (Dear .....) at the beginning and a standard closing (such as "sincerely") at the end.
 Once you are finished drafting your cover letter, do a word wrap. Imagine your cover letter arriving in client's e-mail fragmented on multiple lines or going beyond the normal computer screen which would make them scroll from left to right to read all you have written. That would be bad!
 Attachments are a “No!! No!!” Don’t use them. Many companies have guidelines to block e-mails containing attachments. You will risk your cover letter ending up as spam.
 Spell check and proofread your e-mail letter before you send it, and not just by using the e-mail spell checker. No, YOU spell check it too. Really!
 Be sure to test your message before sending it to anyone.
 I know it is obvious, but just a reminder; send your e-mail cover letter to every client individually, and not in groups...
 I would not suggest that you include your rates in your cover letter which is considered to be an official letter. Instead, you can discuss them individually with each client when you go to meet them for your interview.
 Make sure you follow up with each client individually after you have sent the cover letter. This can ALSO be the moment when you ask how they would prefer your CV to be sent to them. Some prefer via fax and some via snail mail. Still, some will have no problem with you attaching it to your e-mail together with the cover letter, but you should do your research first and find out about client's guidelines and/ or preferences on receiving job applicants' CVs. Call an assistant/ customer service representative, etc. before you send your cover letter to them to find out.
 It is again during your interview (or other phone calls in between you may have with them) where you can mention your preferences on test translations and when you can share any information about your websites with the client. Do not use your cover letter to do that. Remember, the cover letter should be short and coincise.

Also: do some research in internet for good samples or templates of cover letters. There are also lots of books you can start reading now regarding this matter. I will recommend you one which you can easily buy via Amazon.com. Its title is "Dynamic Cover Letters". You can purchase it for about 10 bucks. It will help you a lot.

Good luck to you!

Mimoza


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:03
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Couple of additions Dec 20, 2006

1. You mention that you are going to be sending this to a number of translation agencies, and although you haven't explicitly said so, I suspect they're not all in the same country. Different countries have different conventions and you may wish to research them. For example, you may find it more productive to send your CV to agencies in Poland if you write in Polish. If you're writing to people in the US, you should write in English.

2. You may wish to look at the web sites of your potential clients to tailor your cover letter appropriately. Example: I notice that you indicate that you do a lot of translations about coal mining. I have worked as a geologist studying ground water and purification of it in Silesia. I had to become familiar with the coal mines there to do my work properly. ... (That is, assuming it's true. Don't lie, of course.)

3. If you are responding to a specific advertisement, make certain that everything they are asking about is addressed in your cover letter. I'd recommend separate paragraphs in an e-mail (or two columns in a letter). Example:

Your advertisement indicates you need someone who speaks Polish fluently. I went to school there and graduated with a degree in electrical engineering.

Your advertisment indicates you need someone who knows something about electrical machinery. I learned about that subject while getting my degree in electrical engineering.

...

And as concerns the three issues you raised, let them approach you. Be prepared to answer any questions they ask or write them off. If you choose not to answer a question, politely tell your potential client so.


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Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:03
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No coal mining experience Dec 20, 2006

Paul Merriam wrote:

2. You may wish to look at the web sites of your potential clients to tailor your cover letter appropriately. Example: I notice that you indicate that you do a lot of translations about coal mining.


I never indicated that and I am puzzled as to where you found it :].

Maciek

[Edited at 2006-12-20 07:45]


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 03:03
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
My advice... Dec 20, 2006

Maciek Drobka wrote:
1. Should I state my target rate in the cover letter? If I don't, will outsourcers think, 'All's fine, but WHERE IS THE RATE?!', or not? Or does it depend?

I think it's a good idea to include your rate in your cover letter. Let's face it, it is one of the most critical factors. To play safe you could say something along the lines of it being your rate for general subject matter and anything technical etc will be quoted on a case-by-case basis. At least that way you're not saying your rate in your cover letter is cast in iron.
2. Is it a good idea to say very politely that I don't usually do test translations unless they are paid, and refer outsourcers to my proz.com profile page, which includes quite a few representative samples?

I wouldn't mention that until you are actually requested to do one and then you can bring that point up at that time.
3. Is it better to attach a pdf-based CV to my e-mail or, to avoid my e-mail being considered a virus, place a link to my CV in the e-mail text?

I wouldn't bother attaching it or including a link. If anyone is interested then they will contact you and ask for it then.

You introduction to potential clients should be brief and hard-hitting with all your main selling points on screen as soon as your email is opended...if it's opened at all:) Anyone presented with a lengthy unsolicited email will just hit 'delete' unless there's something they do need that hits them straight in the eye.

Don't just spam any company or outsourcer with 'translation' and 'polish' in their email address, be selective. Go through the blueboard and select agencies and outsourcers that need the services you offer and who are also people and companies you feel you would like to work with.

Remember there's more of them than there are of you, so you have the power:)

Good luck,
Mark


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:03
French to English
Mining was an example Dec 20, 2006

Maciek Drobka wrote:

Paul Merriam wrote:

2. You may wish to look at the web sites of your potential clients to tailor your cover letter appropriately. Example: I notice that you indicate that you do a lot of translations about coal mining.


I never indicated that and I am puzzled as to where you found it :].



Paul was giving you an example. So IF you find that a potential client's website includes a specific industry (in the example, mining) and IF you have appropriate experience in that field, THEN it is a good idea to specifically mention it.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 20:03
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Take into account that most of your mails will Dec 20, 2006

...be discarded automatically as spam or will meet outsourcers who are not interested.
I would only use the online forms many agencies provide on their web-sites.
Cheers
Heinrich


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Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:03
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That is a concern... Dec 20, 2006

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

...be discarded automatically as spam or will meet outsourcers who are not interested.
I would only use the online forms many agencies provide on their web-sites.
Cheers
Heinrich


That's a concern I have, but I guess I'll just think positive and still give it a go. While I risk having my e-mail end up in the spam folder, I don't think forms give you as much opportunity to make a good first impression.

Maciek


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Carole Paquis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:03
Member (2007)
English to French
rule of 5% / 1% Dec 20, 2006

Hello everyone,

Whenever I have done a marketing campaign (either as a saleswoman, trainer or now translator), I always kept the following rule in mind :

on a list of well targeted potential clients (company well targeted, contact name and title/responsibility)....

there is 5 % interest shown

then there is 1% actual order

I have seen this rule work for many years and still apply it.

It has never failed me in 20 years time, in different jobs/industries/countries.

The problem with the Internet is that it is difficult to find the contact name : the key has slightly shifted into targeting the right company/agency, in other words, read their website very carefully and respond to it in your email.

So don't get disheartened the 30th time your email is deleted without being read : it's normal ! Out of a hundred, only 5 will reply (if you get more, you're good !) - and you'll get 1 new client more or less immediately.

Now, do your sums and see how many you need to send !


Carole


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:03
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Hypothetical Dec 21, 2006

Maciek Drobka wrote:

Paul Merriam wrote:

2. You may wish to look at the web sites of your potential clients to tailor your cover letter appropriately. Example: I notice that you indicate that you do a lot of translations about coal mining.


I never indicated that and I am puzzled as to where you found it :].

Maciek

[Edited at 2006-12-20 07:45]


That was intended as a hypothetical example. Obviously you have experience in some field and, if you find an agency that specializes in that field, you mention your experience in that field (which is clearly something other than coal mining).


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Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:03
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, I misunderstood you Dec 21, 2006

Paul Merriam wrote:

That was intended as a hypothetical example. Obviously you have experience in some field and, if you find an agency that specializes in that field, you mention your experience in that field (which is clearly something other than coal mining).


Charlie has already pointed out my misinterpretation. I now see what you mean. Thanks.

Maciek


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