How to Write a Perfect Translator’s CV
A CV is just as useful for a freelance translation pro as it is for someone seeking a salaried job.
When I first contemplated going freelance in my translation work, I thought one of the advantages would be the ability to dispose of my curriculum vitae, or CV. I always found keeping that document updated but succinct to be a chore and the endless wash of advice from people on making my CV rise above the waves of the thousands of other CVs applying for the same positions.
I was wrong. As a freelance translation professional, I’m asked for my CV just as often as I was when I was seeking office jobs. So I thought I’d share a bit of wisdom I’ve accrued in my time – both from the jobs I’ve gotten successfully and the jobs I’ve lost out on.
There are some very, very basic things your CV needs to do that a surprising number of people simply fail to do. You may read some of these points and think I am making this up, but it happens so much more frequently than you think – people often get caught up in making their CV look nice or stressing their immense experience that they forget the basics:
1. Tell them your name. More than that, make your name obvious and easy to see. Have I seen CVs without a name? I certainly have. You want your name to leap off the screen or paper and be clear so the hiring manager will remember it easily. Also, write your name out exactly as you go professionally – if you don’t use your full name, don’t use it on your CV.
2. Give your contact information. Again, basic – and again, often bewilderingly omitted. You want to give the hiring manager every possible way to contact you, because you don’t know what they prefer. Giving your email address only might seem clean and modern, but if the hiring manager is old and stodgy and prefers an old-fashioned phone call, your CV will wind up in the trash.
Beyond the Basics, there are not as many rules as you might think. Listing your relevant experience might vary from job to job, so having several versions of your CV can be useful. Here are a few things I believe about CVs – others may disagree, but if I’m doing the hiring here is what I think:
1. No photos. You’ll hear from people sometimes that you must supply a photo with your CV for a variety of reasons. I disagree. Photos are an unnecessary encumbrance and you’ll annoy far more than you please.
2. No personal data. No one needs to know account numbers, tax numbers, or other intensely personal information. If a job ad requests these things, do not apply.
3. Be concise. CVs that goes on for four pages listing every single job back to the dawn of time is tiresome and show a lack of focus. Keep it simple.
So there you go: Keep your CV updated, concise, and your contact info clear!