I am a Translation Project Manager at a successful translation agency. In this role I see large numbers of enquiries from translators seeking freelance and full time translation positions. I hope that some general observations will help you be more successful.
1) Subject line of your email – Place a helpful reference in this area. For instance ‘Translator ES, FR > EN’ or ‘IT Interpreter London'
The ES, FR, EN and IT denote the language; Spanish, French, English and Italian.
If you are applying for a position that has been advertised then it will also be import to make a reference to this in the subject line. The reference number for instance. If you are applying generally, list the languages in which you translate.
Why is this important? A translation agency may receive hundreds/thousands of emails each day and you want to be found. A translation project manager wants to be able to pick out the enquiries for their project with ease.
For general enquiries, you want your details to be saved in the right place. If the agency can see your languages they can copy your mail into the right languages section rather than putting you in the dreaded ‘look at later pile’.
2) Use the correct email address – If a website or advert states a specific email address, make sure that is the one you use. Again, you do not want to be lost.
3) Provide a summary within your email – You have attached your CV, but you need to encourage the Translation Agency to open it. A summary should include your languages, specialist areas, qualifications and years of experience.
In some instance I have seen CV’s sent without any covering email at all. It does feel quite unprofessional, but also creates concern that it may be a virus in the attachment!
4) Don’t apply for something you are not – If an advert has specific requirements, then only apply if you match those requirements. In such an instance you would be best to make a general application separate to the advertisement.
As an example, the advert may request a specific mother-tongue language. Do not apply if that is not the case, you lose credibility.
Don’t forget to provide rates and the rest of your ‘required’ information – The Translation Project Manager may have a number of applications to consider and they will immediately exclude anyone who has missing information, unless of course a CV shows specialist knowledge for the subject matter. If a translation PM has other options, they probably won’t chase a translator for further information.
5) Update and scan your computer for viruses - How many translators CV’s get removed by an agencies firewall? I don’t know, but such emails are generally deleted without discussion.
6) Contact Info - We are not talking about address here, rather mobile phone number.
Once a job has been confirmed the Translation Project Manager will wish to have the assignment placed with a professional translator ASAP. If they can’t find another number for you they will be likely to move further down the list and call the next translator.......your competition.
I hope this general translation application guide helps and look forward to your application.