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Writing to translation agencies in France.
Thread poster: David Howard

David Howard  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:23
French to English
+ ...
Jun 24, 2008

I'm planning to send my CV with a covering letter to translation agencies in France. I understand that the usual way to do this is in writing, however, given the number of agencies I plan to write to , I'm tempted to use e-mail. Is this advisable, or should I take the time to write the letters by hand?

Many thanks for any suggestions.

David


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:23
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
sending your CV Jun 24, 2008

Hi David,

Well, how shall I put it... unless you really have something great to offer and you put that in the first 4 words of the text all emails and letters I receive from potential translators go straight into the bin.

So you might be better off sending an email to an agency at the moment they are actually looking for a translator with your background, experience or skills.

Another option is to leave your details with as many french agencies´ websites, if they have an ´inscription part for freelancers` on their website...
(no agency is going to copy your data from a piece of paper into their translator database, for future reference'

So unless you letter is REALLY special, I would say it´s a waste of time.

Ed Vreeburg
Translate.ED
French, English - Dutch


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Audrey Bernard-Petitjean
France
Local time: 22:23
Member (2008)
English to French
From my recent experience... Jun 24, 2008

Dear David,

I am new in the translation field, so I recently tried to contact numerous agencies, first in France. Each time, they indicated an e-mail address in their website, I sent an e-mail (my CV + a few words about me) : it is faster and cheaper than sending letters. Sometimes, agencies have even a webpage to apply as a freelance translator online!
I only sent a letter when I was unable to find any e-mail address.

Of course, sending an e-mail does not imply that the agencies will reply each time ! But they do if you look interesting for them...

Good luck in your investigations,
Audrey


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Sandra Peters-Schöbel
Germany
Local time: 22:23
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
spamming them by mail?? Jun 24, 2008

Hi David,

just some thought from my side...

I am a bit doubtful if they would read your e-mails at all... agencies are getting thousands of mails every day, how should you they find your special e-mail within all of them? I guess you will get an automated reply or a standard reply, it you will get one at all.

If you are bidding on job offers here on proz.com, the agencies are hardly able to give you a decline on your offer in time, as they get hundreds of offers for one job
(the one who got the job of course gets his/her reply at once).

So most of the agencies have built up their webpages with online application forms for translators, and they prefer to have all your data within their database without having to add it themselves and will perform a search if they need a translator for something special.

My advise would be: use the bluebord on proz.com and check the agencies' webpages. If your profile fits to them, register online on some of them.

If you have a really good-looking business card, or even better, some kind of brochure presenting your profile and your services, send it by regular mail (that is something I am still working on)!
Hopefully one of the project manager will receive it, and he/she has something to touch, something visible.
For me it is a larger step to throw sth like an interesting card into the paper bin, most of the time you put it aside, in case you might still need it later. And that's exactly what should happen with your application, isn't it?

Good luck!


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Gina Ferlisi
Local time: 22:23
Member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
Agencies read Emails Jun 24, 2008

From my experience, when i started full time years back i sent more than 2000 emails to blueboard agencies, although i already had a long and interesting CV, many of them replied back, I think a good presentation letter is also very important..its your passport to success!! From my experience its worth sending many emails as sooner or later they will reply...i am still getting replies back after two years therefore its not wasting time in the end.

If you need half with a presentation letter you can contact me from my profile page
I can give you a few tips and samples of mine.

Good Luck!!


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Ivana de Sousa Santos  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 21:23
French to Portuguese
+ ...
Same experience Jun 24, 2008

Gina Ferlisi wrote:

From my experience, when i started full time years back i sent more than 2000 emails to blueboard agencies, although i already had a long and interesting CV, many of them replied back, I think a good presentation letter is also very important..its your passport to success!! From my experience its worth sending many emails as sooner or later they will reply...i am still getting replies back after two years therefore its not wasting time in the end.




I've got the same experience. Most of the clients I have it's from e-mails I sent 3-4 years ago.


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Mafalda d'Orey de Faria  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 21:23
Member
English to Portuguese
+ ...
E.mails Jun 24, 2008

Gina and Ivana are right. It worked wonders for me, too.

I am still getting work as a result of e.mails I sent more than 3 years ago!
I could not even remember them and I always ask how they got my contact.

Best of luck!


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David Howard  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:23
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jun 24, 2008

Thanks guys,

Some great advice here. So all in all, I need to put together an impressive covering letter with a CV, then send it out to as many agencies as possible, or register online if possible. I may not get replies straight away, if at all, but if I do enough should get something. The main thing is I don't have to hand write all of them - that's good news!

Thanks again,
David


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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:23
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
no handwriting please - welcome in the XXI century Jun 24, 2008

David Howard wrote:

Thanks guys,

Some great advice here. So all in all, I need to put together an impressive covering letter with a CV, then send it out to as many agencies as possible, or register online if possible. I may not get replies straight away, if at all, but if I do enough should get something. The main thing is I don't have to hand write all of them - that's good news!

Thanks again,
David


I know that some Guidebooks about "how to get a job in France" insist on a handwritten cover letter, but frankly this is a complete waste of time, especially for a freelancer application.

Even for an in-house position it is not necessary any more. If the HR wants a sample of your writing (to perform a so-called graphology test) they will ask you to write a small text at their premises after the first appointment or so.


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Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:23
French to English
Slightly OT Jun 24, 2008

nordiste wrote:

I know that some Guidebooks about "how to get a job in France" insist on a handwritten cover letter, but frankly this is a complete waste of time, especially for a freelancer application.


Not to mention a waste of time for those on the receiving end, I get several candidatures spontanées each month, and never bother to read them, takes too long for me to decipher that French handwriting, no matter how neat it is ... who cares about handwriting in this internet age. We hardly even use the fax machine any more, it only serves to receive unsollicited ads!

Back on topic now - emails can easily be stored and retrieved later on, but that paper copy usually ends up in the trash.


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David Howard  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:23
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Seals the deal Jun 25, 2008

Thanks Lori, that really seals the deal.

Now I just need to persuade my french friend that I don't have to hand write everything (he insists I do!).

Thanks again.
David


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David Howard  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:23
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Guidance Jun 26, 2008

This is a copy of a potential covering letter I have put together with the help of a French friend. Can anyone please give some advice on it's structure, details, and, of course, grammar and spelling.

Many thanks:

Pièce jointe : CV

Madame, Monsieur,

Nouvellement diplômé en Traduction français/anglais et espagnol/anglais, avec mention, je me permets de vous écrire aujourd’hui afin de vous proposer mes services entant que traducteur indépendant. Durant mes études, je me suis plutôt spécialisé dans le domaine du Business et du Marketing. Ma formation et mon expérience professionnelle incluent également la traduction de textes financiers et touristiques. En outre, je dispose de Trados, et j’ai toujours reçu de bonnes remarques pour mes traductions :

“I had a look at the texts and they are really good. I'm very happy with what you have done and will hopefully have some more work for you soon.”

(Kathy Kitzis - Datasource Group)

Je serais donc très reconnaissant si vous m'intégriez à votre équipe de traducteurs. Si vous avez des questions, ou si vous nécessitez un test, n'hésitez pas à me contacter.

Cordialement
David Howard


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Ioana Isai  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 22:23
Romanian to German
+ ...
Also in need of some good advice/tipps Jun 28, 2008

Hello all!

I find myself almost in the same situation as David, the only difference is that I plan to address translation agencies in Vienna.

I have been reading the forums here on proz.com on the "getting established" matter, but I must say I am still a bit confused (I have also been reading the German forum).

What is it exactly that you have to put in your covering letter? Until now I have come up with the following: languages, translation studies, translation experience (not really much there since I have recently graduated), translation tools, rates (????)... and that's pretty much it...or is it not?

The colleagues in the German forum were talking about a "targeted" application, which means:
1. you send your application email only to those agencies that are looking for translators having your language combination;
2. never send your application beginning "Dear Madam/Sir" or "To Whom It May Concern" - always address the person/agency per name;
3. do not apply to agencies working in a field that is not one of you specializations

Now, in the era of mailing lists and mass-emails, one may be tempted to put together one standard covering letter and send it out to as many agencies as possible. Customizing a covering letter for 200 agencies, for example, seems like a really huge expenditure of time...or maybe not?!? After all, if one were to give out flyers promoting oneself, these would not be customized for each by-walker that crosses your way.

Maybe there are some of you out there who are into the translator-recruiting business and could offer me and David some advice.

Thank you all in advance for your replies!

Ioana


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Béatrice Leclercq  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:23
French to German
+ ...
More privacy ?! Jun 29, 2008

Hello David, first of all, I would like to point out that English is not my working language, and everything I write in this message is just meant as a piece of advice and should by no means be understood in an unfriendly way.
Maybe I am hopelessly old-fashioned, but I really wonder why you publish your own, personal cover letter in a public space like this. You have put it together with the help of your friend, I don't know how much time you have spent doing this, and I do not find it bad at all (= to be understood as a reserved way of approving; quite German, I know, but we rarely just say: it's good).

With all the competition in this business, I wouldn't be surprised if someone else (who maybe doesn't want to work that much on his marketing as you) will just take it, copy it and use it for his/her own purposes. There are a lot of quite bare-faced people out there. So, what will your own creation be worth now when it's on the net? In this thread, there were about 10 people who gave you an answer, but there were 600 clicks on it, at the moment I write my message. O.k., maybe this is a little dramatized, but I just realized that no one has answered your additional question about detailed advice on your cover letter.
You're working in language pairs with a lot of competition, and you cannot seriously expect your colleagues to give public advice on this part of your business. A little bit more confidence in your own marketing abilities will do, I think. As I said, the cover letter sounds o.k. to me so far. As for spelling, it's "en tant que" and not "entant que". You could also leave out the "plutôt" before "spécialisé", it would sound more determined to me, but that's a matter of style of course.

Please always keep in mind that not only translator colleagues and competitors, but also potential customers can read this stuff here.

Good luck!

Béatrice


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