Please Help with Résumés/CVs
Thread poster: Brechen MacRae

Brechen MacRae  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:43
Member (2013)
French to English
Oct 7, 2013


I am new to freelance translation and I have been gathering a ton of really pertinent information on this site that will surely help to get me off the ground. I am almost ready to start really promoting myself and sending resumes, but I feel that the resume is the last thing about starting as a freelancer with which I am still not fully confident. There is relatively little advice on this site about resumes. I have viewed other users' resumes, but most are much more experienced than I am, so their content doesn't necessarily correspond to mine.

I have one specific question I would love to have answered about my CV. Here it is:

I have some experience as an English teacher (in South Korea) as well as private tutoring in French. Should I include this experience in my translation CV (my language pair is French and English)? I know to omit irrelevant experience, but these two positions are semi-relevant.

Any other tips on resumes for new freelance translators would be greatly appreciated for not only me, but I'm sure there are others out there in need of similar advice. Even if you could take a glance at my resume on my profile and give any specific criticisms or advice, that would be unbelievably helpful.

Thanks and happy translating!



Carla Davidson  Identity Verified
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Good place for translator CV tips Oct 7, 2013

Hi Brechen,

In case you haven't come across it already Marta Stelmaszak offers great ideas on her website and blog for new and established translators. She also made an ebook specifically about CVs for translators:

I hope that helps you and good luck with your future in translation!


Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:43
Italian to English
Include relevant information Oct 7, 2013

Just a quick post; I will add more info later if anything comes to me.

Your CV should show not only what you have done, but what you believe your skills and strengths are. I think it is important to include information relative to teaching, IF you can show you are aware how the two are linked, and what in particular about your experiences makes you a good candidate for the jobs you are applying for.

So you need to analyse what you learned from your teaching and tutoring roles, and how these are relevant to translation. It might be thorough knowledge of your source and target languages, attention to detail, research skills, respecting deadlines, and so on and so forth.

Employers want to see that YOU have an understanding of your skills and strengths and how you can apply these; this alone will set you apart from many others.

Good luck!


Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:43
Russian to English
+ ...
You should make a brochure of services Oct 7, 2013

Hi Brechen,

I would say that your CV is good and nicely formatted. However, we as translators do not need to send CVs because we are not applying for full-time jobs. What we are actually applying for is project contracts. So we should have a brochure of services for this purpose.

See this discussion for more information:ésumé-vs-Scope-Service-Overview-4348868.S.278501256?qid=4fd23771-38d5-4011-9fc8-22525c2222cb&trk=groups_most_popular-0-b-ttl&goback=.gmp_4348868

I hope this helps.



Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:43
Italian to English
Not true Oct 7, 2013

Sarah McDowell wrote:

However, we as translators do not need to send CVs because we are not applying for full-time jobs.

I suppose the real question here is what a CV actually is. To me a CV is a marketing document sorely underused by many freelance translators. It's a creative opportunity to stand out from the crowd, yet many people remain tied to the idea that we have to send the same, tired, staid old format which does us no favours as freelancers.

I have not looked at Brechen's CV so this comment is no way aimed at him.

Sending a brochure as you suggest may not suit - or be within the grasp of - many translators; remember too that many agencies or clients want a quick summary of a translator's skills and services, and a CV fits the bill very nicely in this case.

I would however warn against a "one size fits all approach"; as freelancers we should be sending out the type of document that best reflects us as a professional. And that may be a brochure, or it may be a CV.


564354352 (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:43
Danish to English
+ ...
What do clients want to know? Oct 8, 2013

In my humble view, traditional CVs are for people who are looking for employment. When you set up as an independent translator, it's a different kettle of fish - you are now about to deal with potential clients, not potential employers, and your approach should be different.

There is no longer a need to describe your personal qualities, stating that you are punctual, reliable, excellent at doing research, pay attention to detail etc. All those things should be given - if you were not all those things, why would clients want to work with you? It will make any potential client yawn to read this, if they don't simply skip over such sections.

I like to think of the presentation that I send to potential clients as an introductory letter, the online version of what Sarah calls a brochure (by the way, Sarah, I have quite a smart printed brochure that I send to direct clients, but it has very little effect - emails seem to work much better).

If you have a look at the jobs that are posted here at, it quickly becomes quite clear what information agencies want (I don't see all that many job postings by direct clients here):

Language combination(s), years of experience and price!

Welcome to the real world! icon_biggrin.gif

I would suggest that a more comprehensive introduction should include the following (not necessarily in the listed order):

* Contact details
* Language combination(s)
* Any speciality fields or particular fields you prefer to work within, along with brief examples of work you have done within those fields
* Years of translation-related experience
* Brief background details, i.e. language-related education/work, or whatever background your translation offer is based on
* Use of CAT tools
* Which file types you can work with (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, InDesign etc.)
* Which document types you offer to translate (e.g. technical manuals, legal documents, medical reports, websites, correspondence, marketing material, press releases, staff newsletters etc.)
* Which services you offer, e.g. translation, proofreading, reviewing/editing, DTP (see José's list for more examples)
* Price, incl. any discounts you have decided to offer (e.g. based on volume or CAT tool repetitions / fuzzy matches)
* Payment terms

Think of yourself as a business person now, and consider what kind of business offer you want to make to potential clients by putting yourself in their shoes and giving them the information that they need to decide whether they should choose you over any other translator.

And, for a slightly more fun way of presenting an introduction about yourself, have a look at (you can see an example of this by clicking the pink/blue logo at the bottom of my profile's About me section... it's not complete yet, but it will give you an idea of what can be done).

Whatever you do, don't fall into the trap of thinking that you have to point out that your experience is limited. No business person should ever do that. Just point out what you have to offer and on which business terms. You're the boss of you now. icon_smile.gif

Best of luck to you. icon_biggrin.gif

[Edited at 2013-10-08 07:09 GMT]


Nisreen Barakat  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:43
English to Arabic
+ ...
You should include any relevant experience Oct 8, 2013

Yes, you should include your experience in teaching and tutoring languages.. As you have no previous experience, you should include any info, even if babysitting when you were a student, because that -for example- reflects your independency and self reliance at an early age.

When later on, you have more relevant experience, then it would be futile to mention these little tasks

Good luck and welcome to the team


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:43
Member (2007)
+ ...
Call it what you like Oct 8, 2013

Whatever you call it, it should be tailored to convincing potential clients that you are the person to trust with their translation. I'd rather see it called something other than CV/resume, simply because so many people think there are "rules" to writing a CV. The only rule you need follow is "give the best impression of your suitability".

If I can take just one point relating to your very neat job-seeker's CV, you don't actually say anything about why you believe yourself qualified to write in English. Your profile has you as a native English speaker but your CV doesn't.

There's a Wiki here on about translators' CVs, similar to what Marta has to say but in a nutshell:


LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:43
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agree with others... Oct 8, 2013

Translators do not need CVs.

When asked for a CV, I just send my brochure of services, terms and conditions, and my website link instead.


Brechen MacRae  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:43
Member (2013)
French to English
Thanks! Oct 9, 2013

These are great comments and suggestions - I will carefully consider all of them. Thanks guys!


Tiffany Hardy  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:43
Spanish to English
Your objective drives every decision in CV writing Oct 24, 2013

In my opinion, if you are translating into English, English language instruction is more than semi-relevant. That experience probably helped to shape your expertise in English grammar, which is essential for any translator's target language. This certainly furthers your objective to be seen as a linguist/expert in your target language. Even if the reality was that you were chasing children around a lot of the time as a teacher (been there done that), an important part of resume writing is to re-weight skills and qualifications to place a spotlight on things from your background that further your objective and de-emphasize stuff from the same positions that are irrelevant.

In terms of the discussion as to whether a CV is really appropriate in seeking out translation work or if a brochure is the preferred approach, that is a decision each one of us will have to make. However, while there certainly are rules to resume writing as Sheila mentions, there isn't a one of them that cannot be broken with purpose to support your career objectives.

Your CV is very attractive, but there is one thing that jumps out - you are using the past to describe your current position. You should use the present tense to describe your current job, omitting the article. (So, "Translate various documents...Utilize terminological databases, etc.). Also, your profile section could be improved. You have two bullets listing character descriptions, but it's not clear why they are in separate bullets. And, while your BA in French is important, it's more important that you are bilingual. This is your number one qualification for being a translator! Therefore, I would list language abilities as the very first bullet point on its own, not hidden inside another bullet on character descriptions. Also, I see your former work as editor/writer to be more relevant than your character descriptions as part of your profile. You could rewrite your objective to be more of a summary (objectives are sort of outdated anyway and focus more on what you want than what you offer) and include your character descriptions there. Just an idea.

Also, and this is just a general tip to others getting established that may read this, In my training as a resume writer, the number one tip I received from my mentors was "Sell it, don't tell it". CV writing is sales, pure and simple. So, look for every opportunity to say how well you did something as opposed to just saying what you did.

[Edited at 2013-10-24 15:28 GMT]


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