On translation websites like Proz or TranslatorsCafe (TC), there are so many job offers. The translator is faced with two challenges: first, knowing which offer to apply for and second, knowing how to apply.
Actually, applying for every job offer you come across is useless. Some will not suit you, it is a fact. We all have our limits; a gynecology-specialized translator should not apply for a job offer meant for a colleague who is specialized in dentistry translation, just as I will never apply for a financial translation job (In case you have not noticed yet, I hate this area, ugh!.)
So how do you handle a translation job?
1. Analyze it
Who published this job offer? Search for their name on Google, check out their website, and find out if there are comments about them on translation websites such as Proz or TC. Check out if there are many negative comments (“do not pay”, “very tight deadline”, etc.), ask yourself if it is worth applying for such a job. If you do not find any information about them, it becomes somehow suspicious. It may be a scam.
What is the job all about? Is it a domain you like and able to translate in? What is the file format? Beware of jobs PDF format; it can be a scanned file/document and you will as well spend the whole time formatting (several times). Is the client requesting for a particular software such as SDLTrados, Adobe, or Wordfast,...?
When is the deadline? Does it seem realistic? Do not forget to take into consideration all factors: the file format, the complexity of the field, your own speed …
Finally, what is the rate offered? How does the client plan to pay? (Paypal, bank transfer, 30 days after, immediately after...)
Once you have asked yourself all these questions, you should know if it’s worth applying or not.
2. Apply wisely
Well, the job suitable you. But as you can notice 15 people have already applied, and you are scared of measuring up. So, you have to make a difference.
Firstly, read carefully the client’s requests. If they want to be contacted through-e-mail, do not e-mail them via their website. If they ask to include some information in your e-mail subject, do it. Keep in mind that if your client receives about twenty job applications, preference will be given to the applicants who respected their instructions.
Then, prove to them that you are organized.
If you send an attached file, don’t simply name it as “CV”. Give a clear title such as:”CV_Yourname_2015”. That way, when the clients download it, they immediately see to whom it belongs, they won't have to rename it. You make their task easier and score a point.
If the client did not give instructions about the subject of your e-mail, try to be as complete as possible (but do not write a 20- line title, it remains a subject). For example, write,” Translator EN-FR, graduate, 3 years of experience” or “EN-FR, rate/word, Trados 2014." Put straight the most useful information for the client for them to see what the e-mail is all about before opening it.
In the body of the e-mail, be complete, and above all, concise. Do not recount your life story to them. It’s not a spontaneous application but a reply to a specific job offer, so comply with your client’s requests. Show them qualified you are for their job offer, describe your strengths (you already have a similar experience, you can translate faster than they want to...) etc.
Write in paragraphs so that the client should have a clear vision of your rates, your availability, software(s), etc. You may finally add more information (for example, say that you also do proofreading), but without exaggerating.
Finally, in your email (Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) signature, remember to include a link to your Proz profile, your TC profile, your LinkedIn page, your website, your Facebook page… That is, where your client can easily find additional information about you. (You must not put 10 links, choose those that will be helpful to the client: if you have opinions from clients on Proz, for example, putting the link in your signature may be a plus).
In conclusion, be clear and precise. Prove to the clients that you are organized, make the task easy for them to the maximum, spare them the stress of having to search for information they need. Add links to your professional pages so that the clients can have a larger vision of you if they want.