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6 tips on how to apply for freelance translator jobs online

6 tips on how to apply for freelance translator jobs online

Finding new sources of work and income is essential to a freelance translator. I tend to find that the very good translators are always busy. They work for a select group of clients who send them constant work. Such translators do not need to look for work-the work finds them. But even an excellent translator will hit a dry spell at some point and will start to look for new clients.

One of the best ways to find work is to send emails to translation agencies. Advertising costs a lot of money. Having your own website helps, but maintaining and promoting your website costs money too. Sending direct emails is cost effective and very targeted. True that spamming is considered to be an illegal activity, but for most translators it is a matter of survival. Another problem is that in recent years, fake translators are sending emails and trying to defraud online buyers. This makes the task of email promotion even more challenging. How is your prospective employer to know if you are real or not?

Here are some tips for an effective direct email campaign. Since we receive dozens of such applications each week, I can tell you what we like to see in an email application.

State your language pair in the Subject line

You would be amazed at how many translators send emails asking for work, while omitting the most basic detail: the language pairs you work in. This should be featured prominently in the Subject line as well as in the email body text.

State your credentials in the email

If you are certified by any accredited body, or even if you belong to a professional translation association like ProZ or, specify it clearly and provide links to the relevant website pages. This lends credence to your application and buyers can check it out online. Include Twitter and LinkedIn profiles as well.

Provide phone numbers and Skype details

Buyers may want to talk to you on the phone before ordering.

Send one email and end it!

his is an important point. Sending 5 or 10 emails will not enhance your chances. The opposite is true. Just send one email and assume that you will be contacted if they need you. Do not send reminders! Remember, email marketing is a numbers game and you are lucky if 3% of your applications are effective.

Attach a short, highly focused CV

A one page PDF file is fine. State your highlights and avoid too much information. Remember, you are not applying for a full-time position. Avoid irrelevant information like hobbies: so you like windsurfing? How does that make you a better translator? Avoid past positions unless they are relevant. Did you work as a video store clerk earlier on in your career? Skip it, as it does nothing to make the buyer more confident in your skills as a translator.

Target your emails and make them personal

Try and find the most suitable email address for your application. Many companies have a jobs@ email address, so send it there if available. Some companies have online registration portals.

Use LinkedIn and other social media to find out who are the procurement people at the company you want to reach. Write a personal email to the person you are addressing. Avoid a ‘form’ letter, as this will look like junk mail and has a high probability of getting trashed. Think about the needs of the person you are writing to and how you can fulfill those needs.

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