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cv advice for would-be translator with no experience
Thread poster: Suzanne Withers

Suzanne Withers  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:30
French to English
Jul 5, 2006

Hi all

I am in the very early stages of becoming a freelance translator, after many years of climbing the corporate ladder.

Unfortunately, aside from my enthusiasm for translating and most of a DipTrans, I have no experience of translating professionally and am wondering how best to present myself on my cv in order to get things rolling.

I have taken the approach of emphasising the breadth of my previous work experience as I see this as an important asset in terms of versatility, breadth of vocabulary etc., but I wonder whether this is wise given that everyone seems to say that you need to be specialised.

I would be grateful for any advice on my cv which would help me to get started.


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Jo-Hanna Goettsche  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:30
English to Spanish
Put yourself in the place of those reading your CV Jul 5, 2006

Ask yourself this question: "What makes me special as a translator?" Knowledge of specialized language? CAT skills? Fast output? Keep filling the blanks.

Make sure your CV highlights the best of what you have to offer.

Best of luck!


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:30
German to English
+ ...
Looks fine to me... Jul 5, 2006

I took a quick glance at the CV available for download from your website. It looks good to me.

I happen to agree that specialization is the way to go, but I also think that you should specialize in something you like because you'll probably end up doing a lot of that.

In fact, looking at your CV, you have - at least - two skills that would lend themselves quite well to specialization: IT & Finance. There is a lot of work to be done in both of those areas (I can at least vouch for the area of finance). Your hands-on experience in those areas will be something prospective clients will be looking for (especially those clients who pay well).

You might add that you are interested in building up expertise in those areas (if you really are). Otherwise, I think it comes across quite clearly that you are a qualified professional looking to change careers.

Your mention of training looks good to me without appearing like you're "hiding out in the university library" to avoid the responsibilities of a career. Your experience is impressive and the awards definitely look good.

I'm sure the others (who have a better eye) will be able to give some other pointers, but I've certainly seen worse - I think you'll be fine.

"Versatility" (as you put it) is good at the beginning - the specialization will most likely develop (almost by itself) over time.

Good luck!


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Suzanne Withers  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:30
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the feedback, Jo Hanna and Derek Jul 5, 2006

Jo Hanna - that's a good way of thinking about it. I guess my strength is that I have worked in different industries and have an understanding of the style, register and vocabulary used in the target language.

Derek - very useful feedback, thanks. I'm trying to emphasise the versatility at first so that I can get some (any) work. My speciality is undoubtedly IT, though it's not necessarily what I'd want to be doing all the time, in fact I'd quite like to move away from it! But I guess it's my major asset and I need to let it work for me, at least to start with.


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:30
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
CV meeting in Bath Jul 5, 2006

I see you live in the UK, and specifically in the West Country. Were you aware that 3 weeks ago, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting's Western Regional Group held a meeting in Bath on precisely this topic? They called it a CV Clinic. I will forward a report on the meeting, full of useful advice about preparing a CV for translators, if you promise to consider joining the ITI.

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texjax DDS PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:30
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
best wishes Jul 5, 2006

Suzie Withers wrote:

My speciality is undoubtedly IT..

.. I guess it's my major asset ..


It is, indeed. I would emphasise that, especially at the beginning of you new life/career.

Ask yourself: Why should they hire me?

Best of luck.


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Suzanne Withers  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:30
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Not eligible for ITI Jul 5, 2006

Peter Linton wrote:

I see you live in the UK, and specifically in the West Country. Were you aware that 3 weeks ago, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting's Western Regional Group held a meeting in Bath on precisely this topic? They called it a CV Clinic. I will forward a report on the meeting, full of useful advice about preparing a CV for translators, if you promise to consider joining the ITI.


Hi Peter

I wasn't aware of the meeting in Bath, I'm afraid, but it certainly sounds like it would have been extremely useful.

As for joining the ITI - without experience, I'm afraid they won't have me: they are looking for 5 years' experience, references relating to professional translation and recent experience of professional translation, none of which I have.

Even Associate membership requires a "professional" reference which, in my case, could not relate to translation work since I haven't done any (yet)!


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:30
Flemish to English
+ ...
IT Jul 5, 2006

I took a walk with my CV in my hand, rung at the door of translation agencies and gave them a copy of it. A week later, I had three translation offers. Not a very modern way of selling myself, but it worked. The only experience, I had was a degree and about 11 months as a translator in the military.
I wonder, if you have so much experience in IT, why don't you become an freelance IT-er. There are enough interesting projects around. The rate per day is about that of a good interpreter (£400/day is the rate of the City) and you can work the same hours as an employee, while being paid as a freelancer with a framework contract. You don't have to chase invoices and contrary to a translator, you can work on a contract basis? No request for discounts if you lines of programming repeat themselves...
Of course, if you work for the "love of French"..., but just think of it: a fixed income of £1600 per week (4 day basis) and working at another project for another customer the rest of the week. Reasonable deadlines, no invoice chasing, financially very sound customers. I've had an example like that. He is not into I.T. any more, but into investing in real-estate.
---
If you still want to combine IT and translation = localization.


[Edited at 2006-07-05 18:43]


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Suzanne Withers  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:30
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
For the love of French... Jul 5, 2006

Williamson - oh yes, I've certainly considered the IT contracting route (having worked alongside many contractors in the past) but, as you've guessed, I'm not going into freelance translation for the money. It's more of a downshifting thing for me.

I drifted into IT quite by accident, whereas translation is a positive choice for me. I want to move away from a 9-5 existence and into a more flexible working pattern where I'm working for myself. Granted, IT contracting would give a certain amount of flexibility, but it's still 9-5, office based.

I want to do something I'm passionate about, and I'm afraid I've lost any passion for software development in a corporate environment. The French language and culture are things which still inspire me every day. I love the process of translation and see it as an opportunity to learn even more. I am fascinated by language and can bore people for hours with my cross-lingual and cross-cultural stories. ;o)

I just need to make sure I try this. If it doesn't work out, then I know I can work elsewhere. But if I don't try it, I might regret it!


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:30
French to English
+ ...
Good news! Jul 5, 2006

Suzie Withers wrote:
Even Associate membership requires a "professional" reference which, in my case, could not relate to translation work since I haven't done any (yet)!

Hi Suzie,

I too thought that would be a problem - but it turns out that the 'professional' reference can be anyone who knows you professionally, and not necessarily in translation - so I gave my most recent boss (my line manager from when I was a medical secretary) as a reference and was admitted as an Associate of ITI. Just a couple more years to go before full membership (after you get the DipTrans you'll only (!) need three years of full-time experience).

Listen to Peter Linton, he knows whereof he speaks, on many matters.

best wishes
Angela


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Suzanne Withers  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:30
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Good news indeed! Jul 5, 2006

Angela Dickson wrote:

Suzie Withers wrote:
Even Associate membership requires a "professional" reference which, in my case, could not relate to translation work since I haven't done any (yet)!

Hi Suzie,

I too thought that would be a problem - but it turns out that the 'professional' reference can be anyone who knows you professionally, and not necessarily in translation - so I gave my most recent boss (my line manager from when I was a medical secretary) as a reference and was admitted as an Associate of ITI. Just a couple more years to go before full membership (after you get the DipTrans you'll only (!) need three years of full-time experience).

Listen to Peter Linton, he knows whereof he speaks, on many matters.

best wishes
Angela


Many thanks for letting me know, Angela.
Peter, I may yet apply to be an Associate Member!


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OlafK
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:30
English to German
+ ...
Complete Dip Trans Jul 11, 2006

I think you should complete your Dip Trans first. Once you've done that it shouldn't be too difficult to get jobs from British agencies for decent rates. Good luck!

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Suzanne Withers  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:30
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Impatient! Jul 12, 2006

Thanks Olaf.

I have received conflicting advice on this. Some people are advising me to start trying to get work before completing the Diploma. I am keen to get started, so I do intend to try and get some work in before I complete the Diploma, if I can.


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:30
English to Hungarian
+ ...
No harm in trying... Jul 12, 2006

...particularly now, in the holiday season. It takes time to establish yourself, so sooner you start, sooner you get there.
Good luck.


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zwestwind
Local time: 05:30
Norwegian to English
+ ...
along the same lines Jul 13, 2006

I have a slightly different problem, but along the same lines;

I have now had a whole month of being a proffesional translator, during which time I've actually done a whole lot of work for a number of agencies, and met my income target. All in all it's beeen very successful and I'm very pleased (and hopeful about the future).
Another agency, which I've heard of, approached me today and asked me if I'd send them my CV as they're looking for new translators in my pair. I have no idea how to construct a translation cv... Other than a translation a course in my degree (BA, language degree at a respected UK university) and some small translations for friends and friends of friends during my degree I have no experience to speak of.
However my CV in general is very impressive, despite the fact that I've just graduated, and I do have a number of qualities and expereinces that, I feel, make my translation work stand out.
How should I approach this? Obviously I should mention that I have proffesional expereince, but the fact that it's only a month doesn't make it sound so impressive. Especcially as most translators I can find in my pairs have been working a number of years. I've not joined the ITI, as I also thought the proffesional reference had to be a proffessional translator, but will recitify that asap. I have done a number of quite complex literary translations, but for personal enjoyment or academic purposes rather than monetary gain...
What about references? Are they nessassary, and if so, who should I use?

Any help at all would be most greatfully received!


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