Translation agencies
Thread poster: Erin Summers

Erin Summers

Local time: 14:05
French to English
Aug 21, 2011

I have been working as a volunteer translator for the past year. I am also finishing up an online translation course. In the next month or so, I will begin to send my resume to translation agencies to look for work.
Any advice about applying to such agencies as a beginner would be helpful.
Thank you.

[Edited at 2011-08-21 19:44 GMT]


Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:05
French to English
+ ...
No time like the present Aug 21, 2011

I think there's a rule about not mentioning names of specific companies in forum postings, but as a general point, I would say that because you're a full member of the site, you have full access to the Blue Board, which might not be a bad starting-point. If you run a search for companies in, say, the US and France without entering anything in the "search term" field, you'll get a list of outsourcers that other translators have worked for in the past, together with the LWA (Likelihood of Working Again) ratings. If I were you, I would start with the agencies that have high ratings (preferably close to 5) and large numbers of ratings. Then you can check their websites and see what experience requirements they have, if any.

Even if you don't plan to start working immediately, it may still be worth writing off now, because it can take quite a while for work to start rolling in. If you are offered work in the meantime and you can't take it on, you can simply reply that you're too busy at the moment. This way, you will increase your chances of avoiding an initial lean spell.

Finally, I also think it's worth fleshing out your profile with more information at this point, because any enquiries you receive now may lead to work later on down the line. Even if you haven't done any paid translation work yet, all knowledge and experience you have gained from education, voluntary work and work in fields other than translation are well worth mentioning. The majority of my work has found me, as it were (i.e. clients contacting me through directories), rather than the other way round, so it's a two-way street.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2011-08-21 14:53 GMT]


Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:05
French to German
+ ...
A bit of a wrong approach... Aug 21, 2011

My 0.02 €, Erin: you may have a bit of a wrong approach with this one

Erin Summers wrote:


I would like to know if someone can tell me the names of some translation agencies that take on translators with 1-2 years of experience, or beginners, essentially.
If you know of some, I'd love to hear from you.
Thank you!

because it may be interpreted as a call for shameless exploitation on the agencies' side.

When I started freelancing, some PMs told me that the rates paid by their agency were "of course, beginner rates". Only that higher rates from these agencies never materialised.

(I already had 10+ years of translation experience at that time.)

[Edited at 2011-08-21 15:29 GMT]


Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:05
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Be honest Aug 21, 2011

I'd recommend simply submitting your resume to agencies. Of course when they ask you about your experience, you give them an honest answer. Even if the information is in the resume you send them, you should respond to them. Of course you keep track of the information they ask for and reflect it in future versions of the resume.


Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:05
Swedish to English
+ ...
Review your CV (resumé) Aug 22, 2011

Erin Summers wrote:
Any advice about applying to such agencies as a beginner would be helpful.

It would be helpful to see your CV, because many beginners like you send out a CV design for getting a full-time job. A CV for freelance work needs to be rather different.

Many agencies are inundated with CVs, so you need to make sure that you get across your key points in the first few seconds. What can you offer that others cannot – language combination, previous relevant experience, examples of your work (perhaps even accompanied by samples of your translations, rendered anonymous to avoid breaching client confidentiality).

You do not need to give a detailed educational or employment history – just the relevant bits. Leave out emotional bits like "team player", "quality is my middle name", " conscientious" etc.

A CV should be like a sales brochure, not a biography. And all on a single page.

Finally, a quick plug – the ITI (Institute of Translation and Interpreting, of which I am and Associate) runs occasional courses on CVs.


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:05
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The flood Aug 23, 2011

Peter Linton wrote:
Many agencies are inundated with CVs, so you need to make sure that you get across your key points in the first few seconds.

Even if you do display your top selling points in a flash, do you really think anyone in a busy translation agency will have the time to read, and properly file for later retrieval, so many applications?

If you are starting out, prioritize! Check the Blue Board here on Proz to find agencies worth working for. Most of them will have a clickable "Go" link to their web site. Check their "careers", "opportunities", "jobs", or "join us", etc. pages. If they have an online electronic form, take the time to fill that in. Hopefully it will directly feed their vendors database, so next time a PM there searches it for a translator in your pair and specialty area, your name will be on the list.

On a second stage, after you have done it to some extent, go to those that ask "send your CV and application to..." (some e-mail address). No point in sending your CV to agencies who don''t invite translators to do it.

Though I might be mistaken, there isn't much to be gained from buying "translation agency e-mail lists" to spam them.


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