When starting out as a freelance translator, one of the first tasks we get down to is the creation of a good résumé. Our résumé is the first impression that future clients will have of us as professional translators and, as we are professionals in communication, this document will say more about us than the words themselves. As a result of the incorporation of the internet and social networks to the business world, we are becoming more and more visible and it is easier for potential clients to find us. However, having an excellent online presence is sometimes not enough and we have to go out and actively look for clients. No matter how good we are in our job, when we start working on our résumés, we are likely to be faced with more questions than answers as regards format, extension, content, tone, style, detail, and even modesty. In this article, I will concentrate on the contents of a freelance translator's résumé.
Before starting to address all the questions regarding the form of our résumé, we have to decide what we are going to include and what we are going to leave out. Résumés, as all other communicative acts, are culture-bound so, depending on a number of cultural factors, you may have certain ideas about what a résumé should be like and, as we work on an international market, the odds are that your potential client will have his or her own expectations as well. So how do we bridge this cultural gap? One option is to resort to a utilitarian approach: What information will be useful to the other party in deciding if they want to use our services, and what will not? Information will be useful if it serves one of the following purposes:
Facilitation of contact.
Definition of our scope of services.
Justification of our experience as linguists.
Proof of our expertise in a specialty field.
If a piece of information serves at least one of these purposes, then it might be worth including. Let’s see how some of the data most usually included in résumés fit these categories:
Identification: Name, last name, professional memberships.
Contact: E-mail address, phone number, website or professional profile, address.
Scope of services: Language pairs, specialty fields, services offered, mother tongue.
Experience as a linguist: Translation certifications, language certifications, international exams.
Expertise in a field: Relevant studies and work experience.
Data that don’t fulfill any of the criteria mentioned above, and that should therefore be left out, include, among others, picture, marital status, number of children, date and place of birth, age, tax information, primary and secondary school education, computer hardware, knowledge of basic software (such as Windows, Office, Firefox or Adobe Reader), personal objectives, etc. If we stick to these criteria, we should have a good starting point for the selection of contents for our résumé and we will be constructing ourselves as effective communicators, which is always a plus for freelance translators.
Does your résumé fulfill these criteria?