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Optimum CV length for newcomers to translation
Thread poster: Vivien Green

Vivien Green  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2013)
French to English
Feb 25, 2013

I am a newcomer to professional translation and am about to start emailing agencies my CV and covering letter.

My initial CV draft was 2 pages in length but a family member I asked for advice (who has nothing to do with translation but has had to read hundreds of CVs and covering letters over the course of his career and make choices accordingly) thinks this is too long and that ideally one side of A4 is optimal for someone at my stage career-wise.

In direct contrast to this, a friend was recently told his 2 page CV was far too short and then asked to flesh it out a bit (again though he is not a translator).

Because I have only been working as a paid translator for a month or so, I don't have much paid experience to highlight. This makes me feel, however, that I should write a bit more about my previous work experience, in order to explain how it has been relevant to my proposed career path (I did a fair bit of translating (and interpreting) in a non-official capacity in my last job). I also want to say as much as I can about the paid translations I have done.

Does anyone have any advice?


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 01:58
Member
Italian to English
Optimum length Feb 25, 2013

The optimum length for a CV, no matter where you are in your career, is that which includes the essential information and shows off you and your skills to their best advantage. No more, no less.

Reminds me of the question "How long is a piece of string?"


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Listen to your friend Feb 25, 2013

I agree with your pal - ideally one side of A4 is plenty for busy PMs to have to read.

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:58
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Clients versus employers Feb 25, 2013

Vivien Green wrote:
This makes me feel, however, that I should write a bit more about my previous work experience, in order to explain how it has been relevant to my proposed career path...


Potential employers want to hire you as a person and might want to know what skills you have and how your previous non-career related experience can help you and their company. Potential clients want to know what services you offer. I suggest you keep two CVs -- one for your freelance work and one for job applications. For freelance work, make it 1 page long. For job applications, feel free to make it longer (up to e.g. 4 pages if that is what is normal in your country).


 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
ONE PAGE Feb 25, 2013

Just one page. That is all I use, and I've been in business for over 41 years. Still just one page, no one wishes to read any more.

 

ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 02:58
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
One Page, Period Feb 25, 2013

Anything more, and your CV/resume will probably end up in the waste basket. The place to elaborate on your skills (along with your experience, education, achievements, etc.) is the interview. The purpose of a CV/resume is to get you an interview. That is why it should be short. Why, do you think, do they ask you questions in the interview?

[Edited at 2013-02-25 21:26 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
interview? Feb 25, 2013

ATIL KAYHAN wrote:

Anything more, and your CV/resume will probably end up in the waste basket. The place to elaborate on your skills (along with your experience, education, achievements, etc.) is the interview. The purpose of a CV/resume is to get you an interview. That is why it should be short. Why, do you think, do they ask you questions in the interview?

[Edited at 2013-02-25 21:26 GMT]


This particular CV is for a freelancer, Atil: there won't be an interview. But I agree that the CV needs to be kept as short as possible.

Have a look at the Wiki on CVs here; 8 think it's to be found under the Education tab - I'm on my phone so no link.l


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:58
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
For a job application... Feb 25, 2013

ATIL KAYHAN wrote:
Anything more [than one page], and your CV/resume will probably end up in the waste basket. The place to elaborate on your skills (along with your experience, education, achievements, etc.) is the interview. The purpose of a CV/resume is to get you an interview. That is why it should be short.


If your CV is too short, you won't make the shortlist for the interviews. How long or short the CV must be depends on the conventions of the country that you're in. If I were to apply for a full-time job in my country of origin, I wouldn't do anything less than 4 pages. In other countries, anything over 2 pages is disregarded, and in some countries, one page is all it takes. In some countries, you are expected to really sell yourself in the CV, but in my country of origin, any hint of self-praise will result in your CV being binned.

However, I believe the original poster wants to use his CV to get freelance clients, and for that, his CV must focus on what services he offers, what document formats he can handle, what computer programs he owns licenses for and/or is capable of using, what subject fields he specialises in, etc. Whether to make it one page or four depends on what he wants to use to impress the client.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:58
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
URL Feb 25, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:
Have a look at the Wiki on CVs here...


http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Creating_an_effective_CV_/_resume


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:58
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Facts, facts, facts... and a little bit of yourself Feb 25, 2013

We live in a world where everything is rush and concise information is always in considerable demand. I however believe that every person is entitled to add that little pinch of completely useless information that defines your character and proves that you can have something to offer on top of the boring pile of CVs a busy agency is condemned to receive year after year.

Do showcase the facts in the succinct manner everybody needs and expects, but make sure you reserve a couple of lines to tell something about yourself, be it how fond you are of 19th century Italian watercolours, how much you enjoyed learning to make cheese in La Camargue, or what a life-changing experience it was to cut peat in Scotland.


 

Jessie LN  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
hmm Feb 26, 2013

I find it very difficult to keep my translation CV short. I have had a lot of jobs, most of which are indirectly related to translation, so I know exactly what you mean when you say you want to include previous experience in order to show that you have the necessary skills/motivation/subject knowledge when you don't have much translation experience under your hat yet.

I can't say whether my advice is of any value since I'm just starting out as well and actively looking for clients. However, you might want to divide up your CV into sections like 'Relevant Experience' and 'Other experience', keeping the 'other' section very short and perhaps lumping a bunch of positions together, e.g. "2009-2012 - Various positions in retail and restaurant work" or something to that effect. If you make your CV orderly with clear headings and no superfluous information, it'll be easier for project managers to skim. I think I need to apply my own advice here to my covering letters, actually...

The more translation experience you accrue, the less you will have to mention previous positions, I assume... and the easier it will be to fit it all on one page.


 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:58
Spanish to English
+ ...
Good advice Feb 26, 2013

That sounds like good advice.

Here in Spain people tend to submit quite lengthy CVs to translation agencies, which goes completely against the grain in my country of origin, the UK. Having been a project manager, I can say that these long CVs are really quite convincing. Even if a person's qualifications were shaky, by the time I had read the list of projects that had done, they had pretty much me won over. So IMO you shouldn't be afraid of naming documents and providing word counts, even low ones.


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 01:58
English to Russian
+ ...
Keep it short Feb 26, 2013

In most countries, an average HR manager (or whatever they may be called) would only spend about 30 seconds reading your resume, so make it short enough for that. There is no reason whatsoever to list the projects you have worked on. The only place where you really need long CVs is the academic world.

[Edited at 2013-02-26 05:59 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:58
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
30 seconds Feb 26, 2013

Anton Konashenok wrote:
In most countries, an average HR manager ... would only spend about 30 seconds reading your resume, so make it short enough for that.


I agree with the "30 seconds" but not with the "so" after that.

It is true that an HR manager spends very little time reading the CV upon first read, but they don't start reading from the top of the page and then stop reading when they hit 30 seconds. Instead, the HR manager scans the page(s) for the information that he is looking for at that stage, and he does not spend more than 30 seconds (or even 10 seconds) looking for it. What this means is not "keep it short" but rather "keep it organised" or "keep it obvious".



[Edited at 2013-02-26 09:32 GMT]


 

XXXphxxx (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:58
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Website Feb 26, 2013

A proper website gives you the opportunity to flesh out your c.v. and create a memorable impression. My advice would be to keep your c.v. short (1 page) but ensure that it contains your web address and also highlight it in your covering letter.

 
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