How best to phrase the application letter?
Thread poster: Ondira

Ondira  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:01
Member (2012)
English to German
Oct 27, 2012

This may sound a bit naive to people who have been in the business for long, but when I decided to expand my freelance translation work via proz.com I wasn't all too sure about what belongs in a good application letter (or rather e-mail) and what doesn't. Of course an individual letter responding to the ad is always best, but there certainly are some rules you should stick to. I am not sure that I got them all, but I thought if we worked together here we could give new members a real help.

What I did find out:

- Write to the person mentioned in the job ad (if there is a name mentioned), not to "Dear Madam or Sir";
- Attach your CV;
- Include the link to your proz.com Profile, especially if there are WWAs;
- Mention, in short, your education, but don't expand too much and focus on experience relevant to the assignment you apply to;
- Name your rate.

Then the question is, should you offer a free test translation or not? There is another thread about this. I think it is a good idea to offer, but after having read the opinions of the others I think a test translation is only in order if it's only 200 words or something like that - and if the company has already agreed to your rate and there is a real chance of you getting the job if the test is ok.

That's how far I got until now.


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ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 02:01
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Sample Cover Letter(s) Oct 27, 2012

The Internet is full of sample cover letters for translators. I will copy and paste one at the end of this message.

First of all, do not use the basic Google. (I never use the basic Google.) Instead, use Google Advanced Search. In the box that says "all these words:" type translation. In the box that says "this exact word or phrase:" type cover letter. In the box that says "language:" choose English. Last but not least, in the box that says "region:" choose United States (or another region if you like).

Google comes up with about 1,400,000 results. I give the very first one below:

Dear Media Attache,

Bonjour! Buenos diás! Guten Tag! Good day!

In response to your ad on the Skill Space Examiner published on December 13, I am enclosing my resume for your consideration.

I was particularly attracted to your position because of my interest in international affairs and travel, and the opportunity to use my language skills in a global environment.

As you will notice in my resume, I have an excellent command of the following languages: French, German, Spanish and English . I am also highly proficient in business Nihonggo and writing in Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji.

I am of multi-racial and ethnic descent which throughout my life has allowed me to immerse in various cultures. My work experience also reflects my versatility as a translator for visiting UN delegates on important humanitarian and diplomatic missions.

I believe I would be a good candidate for the position of Translator and French Teacher in your International Business school, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,
Kurt Krungthep-Messiermeaux


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Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 00:01
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
Sounds good... Oct 27, 2012

...however, I would not mention my education, as it is contained on my CV anyway.

I usually offer sample translations when I have not that much significant experience for a certain job, but feel confident that I can handle it, so the client can get an idea if he wants to entrust me with the project.

I would also say, the shorter the job, the shorter the application. I have gotten some jobs based on nothing but one sentence telling that I am available and a link to my profile and CV.

And one more - many agencies want to know how many words the translator can handle per day - especially when they are trying to find someone for a larger project.

Good luck applying!

Kind regards
Anna


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Meta Arkadia
Local time: 06:01
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Be original Oct 27, 2012

ATIL KAYHAN wrote:
The Internet is full of sample cover letters for translators.

Yes. And the outsources will receive dozens of them for each and every job [s]he posts.
Be original. Funny. To the point. Anything but a copied cover letter. Don't waste your time - and the outsourcer's. A sentence or so can be enough.
My application for the localisation of iPhone apps:



Short text, written on an iPod touch, screenshot. Took me minutes, got the job within minutes.

Cheers,

Hans


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:01
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Make it personal Oct 27, 2012

Ondira wrote:
- Write to the person mentioned in the job ad (if there is a name mentioned), not to "Dear Madam or Sir";
- Attach your CV;
- Include the link to your proz.com Profile, especially if there are WWAs;
- Mention, in short, your education, but don't expand too much and focus on experience relevant to the assignment you apply to;
- Name your rate.

I'd agree with all those, although I'd do as Anna suggests and minimise the education in the quote, probably right down to "qualified translator". If I had one, I might say "translator with an MA in Translation Studies", but no more. And I'd mention all my terms and conditions, not just my rate: when I want to be paid; in what currency; by what method. I sometimes ask for part payment in advance.

Note that I don't think of it as an application letter - that's for a job; you're giving a quote for your services. It may be nit-picking, but it's all part of the professional mindset - you can't present a professional image if you're thinking like an employee. I wouldn't send anything like the 'one-size-fits-all' job application letter proposed by Atil.

Then the question is, should you offer a free test translation or not?

Before they've even asked? I certainly wouldn't. I'd offer to do a thoroughly competent translation for them at the stated rate. If they come back suggesting a sample, well that's part of the negotiations. I might if they were giving lots of reasonable signs and agreed to my terms.

I think what I use the quote for (apart from to give my rates etc.) is to show them that I'm a real person with a real history. My CV says I've got a translation certificate as well as other qualifications and it details my experience. The quote says that both my parents and my husband are British and I spent 38 years in London before spending 15 years in France doing.... In other words, if the CV is the (factual) skeleton, the quote is more like the (human) flesh.

One final tip: it can be a good idea to mention something about them, though I only do it if I've got something to say. Maybe their website is impressive, or they have a very good BB record here... Everyone's a sucker for flattery.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:01
English to German
+ ...
By deleting the word "application letter" from your memory. Oct 28, 2012

Ondira wrote:
to expand my freelance translation work via proz.com I wasn't all too sure about what belongs in a good application letter (or rather e-mail) and what doesn't. Of course an individual letter responding to the ad is always best, but there certainly are some rules you should stick to.


1. If you want to work freelance, you run a business. No matter how small, it is a business. You do not "apply", you OFFER services, you do ACQUISITION and you may SOLICIT prospective clients.

2. You never work "via ProZ.com". This is a portal for great networking and is wildly popular among outsourcers to find the perfect match in terms of qualified translators because it is the largest resource center worldwide, but you neither work via, at or for ProZ.com. ProZ.com is no temp agency, no employment office and most definitely no employer of yours simply because you pay membership. ProZ.com is by no means involved in any transactions between you and the client that you met here on this website.

3. Ergo: No rules apply.


What I did find out:

- Write to the person mentioned in the job ad (if there is a name mentioned), not to "Dear Madam or Sir";


Yes, please, if you don't want to have your acquisition letter end up in the trash within a second.

- Attach your CV;


Honestly? Don't. In my company we don't open any (possibly virus- or malware-ridden) attachments as long as we are not convinced that the cover letter is legitimate (contains full contact data and was sent from a traceable email address.)

- Include the link to your proz.com Profile, especially if there are WWAs;


Very good!

- Mention, in short, your education, but don't expand too much and focus on experience relevant to the assignment you apply to;


Yes. Tell them why you are the right person for this project or this particular topic. Please forget about the word "assignment". You take on projects or (when rather smallish): jobs. Translator schools call homework "assignments", as soon as school is over, you work with clients. Note: Never "for" clients. "With". As a partner.

- Name your rate.


No. You name the range of your rates (between xxx and xxx, depending on topic, subject matter and research involved, extras such as non-editable formats or intricate formatting not included. Do only give a quotation after you have seen the source text.

I think it is a good idea to offer, but after having read the opinions of the others I think a test translation is only in order if it's only 200 words or something like that - and if the company has already agreed to your rate and there is a real chance of you getting the job if the test is ok.


Why? I do understand that you want to get established - but you also want to be taken seriously, right? Whenever we receive an "application" where the "applicant" offers free test translations, discounts for repetitions, extra discounts for larger word count, 24/7 availability and kindergarden rates, we get suspicious. There is not much quality to be expected.

Regards and please have a great weekend!
Nicole
Schnell Creative Group, Inc.


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