Here are some suggestions on how to make your resume stand
out so that you have more employment opportunities.
Keep the document to one or two pages. Remember, this is a resume, not a CV. As
such, it is important to summarize the most significant highlights of your
professional skills that are relevant to the position you are applying for. A
project or vendor manager's time is limited. They spend only a few seconds
looking at your resume to see if it is worthwhile to keep reading.
Indicate your source and target languages. This information is important and
having it clearly visible at the top makes it easier for project or vendor
managers to find when they go looking for a specific language pair among the
many resumes they have on file. If you translate more than one language, include
it, but differentiate your strongest language pair from the others.
Indicate your specialization. It is likely to be the second thing a project or
vendor manager looks for on your resume. When looking for a particular area of
expertise for a project, many translation companies use indexing and key word
search tools to help them sift through the resumes on file. Having your
specializations listed will help ensure that a word search leads to your resume.
For example, if you are a German medical translator, make sure you list the
words "German" and "medical." If you are just starting out, you may not have
substantial experience in a particular field, but it is still a good idea to
indicate something you would like to specialize in and that you are actively
Submit your resume online, preferably in PDF format as an email attachment. A
PDF file looks professional and can be viewed on different platforms without
altering the fonts you use. It also indicates that you know how to create a PDF
file, which many translation companies see as a valuable skill.
List complete contact information. Make sure you include your mailing address,
phone number, fax number, and an accurate email address that you check
When saving your resume on the computer, use your last name for the filename.
Don't name your resume something generic like "U.S. resume" or "translator 1 ."
This just makes good sense, especially when submitting your resume online, since
translation companies will typically file an applicant's material under their
Indicate your educational background in the proper place. If you graduated
recently and do not have much work experience, make sure you emphasize your
education. If you are an experienced translator or interpreter, you can move the
education information to the end of your resume and emphasize your work
Provide relevant information only. For a freelance position, it is not necessary
to show that there are no gaps in your employment history. You don't need to
write down that summer you spent pouring concrete or waiting tables, unless
perhaps you were waiting tables at a cafe in Paris or Madrid.
Indicate your experience with computer-aided translation (CAT) tools and whether
you use such tools on a regular basis. Do you own and are you proficient in the
use of a particular tool, such as TRADOS 7 Freelance? If the answer is yes, make
sure it is reflected on your resume. Make sure you list specific CAT tools,
since this is another area where translation companies use indexing and key word
Provide information on your desktop publishing (DTP) capabilities. Skills in
using DTP applications such as InDesign or QuarkXpress are good to have, as they
might set you apart from other translators.
Proofread your resume thoroughly and have others proofread it. This is
particularly important if your native language is not English. Of course, even
native English speakers are not immune to typos and poorly worded English.
Remember, you have designed your resume as a tool for selling your linguistic
skills. If a resume is not flawless, your capabilities will appear questionable.
Include relevant association memberships and credentials, such as ATA
Update your resume frequently. Sending out an updated resume is a good excuse to
make additional contacts with translation companies. This will also help to keep
your name fresh in the minds of prospective clients.
Things to Avoid
To further enhance your chances of getting a translation company to put your
resume on file, we suggest you steer clear of certain practices that are quite
Don't use colors, photos, word art, and graphic images unless you have a good
reason to do so (such as using your logo).
Don't state your date of birth, number of children, marital status, or other
similar personal information. This is a common practice in other countries, but
is not advisable for U.S. resumes.
Don't include an objective that is too broad. It is not necessary to state your
objective at all if it is clear from your cover letter (which will typically
take the form of an email message that you send with your resume attached) that
you are a freelance translator or interpreter who wants to work with a
translation company as an independent contractor. If you choose to include an
objective, be sure to be concise. Do not make sweeping statements such as "To
gain experience as a translator" or "To use my foreign language skills."
Don't provide a list of your dictionaries. You can provide this information if
requested, together with other resources you are using.
Don't describe your hardware and don't list standard software applications such
as MS Office. It is assumed that you already know how to use these programs, and
the reader will wonder why they are listed. However, you might want to mention
which platform(s) you are using, especially if you are a Mac user.
Don't leave the Track Changes feature on in Word. This may seem obvious, but the
number of resumes submitted with tracked changes visible is surprisingly high.
Though it is a good source of office ridicule, it is not a good way to present
yourself to a potential client. Check your view settings and make sure you see
what you want everyone else to see. This blooper can be easily avoided if you
submit your resume in PDF format as suggested earlier.
Don't leave unused generic fields when using a template. Resume templates are
fine to use, though they are fairly obvious to a reader who has seen hundreds of
resumes. There is nothing wrong with using a template, provided it is
appropriate for your purpose and is correctly customized to suit your needs.
Don't submit your resume in nonstandard applications, such as MS Publisher.
Don't include your rates. Of course, it is important that the project manager
knows what you charge, but your resume is not a good place to provide such
information. It is a good idea to submit a separate document containing your
rate information, or to include such information in an accompanying message (or
Don't use silly or unusual fonts. Use a common font like Arial, Helvetica,
Times, or Times New Roman.
Don't use acronyms. Most of us know what ATA stands for, but standard resume
writing suggests you spell out all proper names. If the name occurs more than
once on your resume, it is fine to use an acronym for subsequent occurrences.
Don't write "references available upon request." You can provide references in a
separate document or in your cover letter.
Don't submit hard copies. While a paper resume can be printed on fancy paper and
look impressive, it is the content, not the form, that is important to the
project or vendor manager. More importantly, a digital resume is searchable and
does not take up physical space.
Last, but certainly not least, don't make things upóbe truthful and accurate.