Listing agencies on resume/CV
Thread poster: Mara Gerety

Mara Gerety  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:07
Italian to English
Sep 7, 2018

Hi all,

Potentially very silly question but here I go anyway. I'm just starting out as a freelance translator, have had a small handful of direct clients over the past two years and have been doing a decent amount of work for one agency over the past six months. I'm now looking, belatedly, to sign on with more agencies to take a bigger step towards making this my proper job. And my silly question is this: are there particular stylistic conventions or matters of etiquette to keep in
... See more
Hi all,

Potentially very silly question but here I go anyway. I'm just starting out as a freelance translator, have had a small handful of direct clients over the past two years and have been doing a decent amount of work for one agency over the past six months. I'm now looking, belatedly, to sign on with more agencies to take a bigger step towards making this my proper job. And my silly question is this: are there particular stylistic conventions or matters of etiquette to keep in mind when listing agencies as opposed to direct clients on one's CV? With direct clients I'll have things like "translation of such-and-such website, 2017" and "ongoing collaboration with Dr. So-and-so on translation of publicity material for XYZ Theater Company", specific information on specific projects I've done.

Right now I have "Since [date], ongoing freelance collaboration with [agency], primarily in marketing, tourism and arts/cultural fields" for the agency. Is that more or less standard? I know we can't mention end clients that we work for through agencies, but is there anything preventing us from listing the agencies themselves? (I have not signed an explicit NDA with this particular agency, but am not interested in getting myself in any sort of trouble regardless.)

Thanks,
Mara
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Enrique Bjarne Strand Ferrer
Norway
Local time: 16:07
Member (2017)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
NDA Sep 7, 2018

You have signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the agencies, I assume, and are for that reason prohibited from disclosing.
Anyway, if you haven't, that doesn't really matter, as agencies reading your CV would assume you are in breach with the NDA.

In my CV, I only mention end clients by sector and importance, such as first tier Wall Street banks, top German player etc. I do not mention any agencies, they don't really matter.


Kevin Fulton
José Henrique Lamensdorf
 

Mara Gerety  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:07
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Not what I was asking Sep 7, 2018

Well no - as I mentioned in my original post, this particular agency did not make me sign an NDA. I wouldn’t name end clients regardless, my question is whether I can in any way mention on my resume that I have freelanced for this agency. Otherwise my resume is thin, as I do not have a formal degree in translation.

Are we just supposed to say “here’s my (unrelated) degree, here’s my language certification from that exam I took, here are my specialist fields, now trust me”
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Well no - as I mentioned in my original post, this particular agency did not make me sign an NDA. I wouldn’t name end clients regardless, my question is whether I can in any way mention on my resume that I have freelanced for this agency. Otherwise my resume is thin, as I do not have a formal degree in translation.

Are we just supposed to say “here’s my (unrelated) degree, here’s my language certification from that exam I took, here are my specialist fields, now trust me”? (Serious question.)

What do other people do? Again, I’m not talking about listing end clients. I’m talking about being allowed to claim that I work for a company that I do in fact work for as a freelancer.

If we’re not allowed to even mention any agencies we work for how does anyone ever get any more work???
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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:07
German to English
List types of projects Sep 7, 2018

There's little to be gained from listing agencies on your CV. Potential clients are more interested in your experience and capabilities.
There's also the risk that agencies you list have a dodgy reputation in the industry regarding quality, customer service, etc.
You can always list the types of projects you've worked on, such as instructions for use for a refrigerator/freezer, legal complaint, menu for a gourmet restaurant, etc. That will give potential customers a better idea of wh
... See more
There's little to be gained from listing agencies on your CV. Potential clients are more interested in your experience and capabilities.
There's also the risk that agencies you list have a dodgy reputation in the industry regarding quality, customer service, etc.
You can always list the types of projects you've worked on, such as instructions for use for a refrigerator/freezer, legal complaint, menu for a gourmet restaurant, etc. That will give potential customers a better idea of what you can do, rather than a list of agencies you've worked for.
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Teresa Borges
José Henrique Lamensdorf
Thomas Pfann
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Sheila Wilson
Fiona Grace Peterson
 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 16:07
Member (2016)
English to German
Be professional Sep 7, 2018

I believe that there are no real "rules" for this (as I believe that there are not many general rules in the whole translation business ...)

First of all, don't overestimate the value of listing clients. People who read your information when looking for a translator are rather unlikely to dig that deep. They probably see dozens or thousands of these CVs and they will know what they are looking for.

In any case, treating business information confidentially should go with
... See more
I believe that there are no real "rules" for this (as I believe that there are not many general rules in the whole translation business ...)

First of all, don't overestimate the value of listing clients. People who read your information when looking for a translator are rather unlikely to dig that deep. They probably see dozens or thousands of these CVs and they will know what they are looking for.

In any case, treating business information confidentially should go without saying, even if there is no NDA. When you wish to use someone as a reference, you need to ask them. Ask the agency if it is okay to list them in your CV, and act according to what they say.

Mara Gerety wrote:

Are we just supposed to say “here’s my (unrelated) degree, here’s my language certification from that exam I took, here are my specialist fields, now trust me”? (Serious question.)

What do other people do? Again, I’m not talking about listing end clients. I’m talking about being allowed to claim that I work for a company that I do in fact work for as a freelancer.

If we’re not allowed to even mention any agencies we work for how does anyone ever get any more work???


Serious answer: Quite so. I have no translation degree and I started with not much more than you, just a field of expertise. People won't trust you because they read your list of clients and phone each of them. Nobody has the time to do that, as long as they don't need a rocket science translator. Trust needs to be built, step by step. Giving you a small assignment (or a test translation) is not a big risk for a potential client/agency. Be there when they need a translator urgently (holidays are great for that), so that they give you a chance. And then it's up to you.
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Teresa Borges
Matthias Eng
 

Mara Gerety  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:07
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks all Sep 7, 2018

This all is quite helpful - I think I need to dismantle my current CV and start fresh. One of the things I like about this business is precisely the extent to which the quality of one’s work speaks for itself - though I guess now I’m finding that it does have a double edge in that getting one’s foot in the door is different than in some other industries..

Emma Page
Elen_L
 

Mara Gerety  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:07
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks all Sep 7, 2018

(Accidental double post deleted, sorry)

[Edited at 2018-09-07 20:56 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:07
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
The "what" is important; rarely the "who" Sep 8, 2018

Kevin Fulton wrote:
There's little to be gained from listing agencies on your CV. Potential clients are more interested in your experience and capabilities.
There's also the risk that agencies you list have a dodgy reputation in the industry regarding quality, customer service, etc.

Exactly! Potential clients aren't particularly interested in who you've worked with in the past. The main thing they're interested in learning is that you're likely to be able to do a good job on their own translation(s). So if they want 1,000 words on automotive parts translated, the fact that your CV says you've translated a million words on exactly that subject is going to give them massive confidence.

Whether you've worked with A, B, or C agency is largely irrelevant. There are thousands and thousands of agencies. Few of the smaller, more specialised ones will be known outside their sphere. Obviously, if one of your direct clients has been some household name - and they've given their permission - then dropping their name may be worthwhile, but not otherwise. I certainly don't name any names in my own CV and I think it's a pretty strong one - that's what clients tell me, anyway .


Mara Gerety
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Liviu-Lee Roth
Teresa Borges
 

MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:07
Member (2017)
French to English
+ ...
Lose the agencies... Sep 9, 2018

...and be vaguely specific about end clients / projects.

-Subtitles for one of the most popular series currently streaming
-Ad campaign for one of the world's leading soft drinks
-Material on immigration issues for three different federal agencies
-Translator for the UN
-Translation of a bestselling crime novel for one of the "Big Five" publishers

Etc. Projects and clients are what matter most, not agencies. Even if you were to say Coca Cola, w
... See more
...and be vaguely specific about end clients / projects.

-Subtitles for one of the most popular series currently streaming
-Ad campaign for one of the world's leading soft drinks
-Material on immigration issues for three different federal agencies
-Translator for the UN
-Translation of a bestselling crime novel for one of the "Big Five" publishers

Etc. Projects and clients are what matter most, not agencies. Even if you were to say Coca Cola, would that matter? There are thousands of people all over the world working on ad campaigns for Coke. Thousands of translators working for the UN. Etc. Only when you list an agency AND the end client at the same time does it become potentially problematic.

When I'm looking for new agencies, I do the same thing in reverse: who are their clients and what kind of projects do they work on? That tells me whether I'm interested in working for that agency or not. In fact, I rarely even bother contacting agencies who don't provide a sample list of clients, or at least the list of industries they work in.
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