Can you hire me now? A Dozen Donts and Dos to apply for and bid on jobs Marketing Your Translation Services translation jobs
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Can you hire me now? A Dozen Donts and Dos to apply for and bid on jobs


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This business and most of our life if you want to get philosophical about it is all about getting noticed. Letting the world know you are out there. The more effectively and regularly you can inform people about who you are, the more work you will have, and the more money you will make.  Below you will find a dozen pointers on Donts and Dos (as you can see, I like to end on a positive note) when applying to translation agencies and bidding on jobs. A lot of these Donts and Dos I discovered when freelancers bid on jobs I posted on translator workplace websites. 

Donts when applying to translation agencies 

You finally have a list of translation agencies and you are ready to start a mass mailing. You address the agency, attach your resume, write your language combination in the reference line and maybe even add a short note attached please find my resume for your review. Then you waitand waitand wait, and wonder how come they are not answering you. Here are some reasons why: 

  1. Dont ever send an attachment to an agency without having been specifically asked by the agency to do so. Instead, paste your resume to the bottom of the email and make reference to it in your note. With all these viruses floating around these days, recipients may mistake your email attachment for a virus and simply delete it.
  2. Dont send an email without giving a brief introduction to sell yourself. Why should the agency even bother reviewing your resume?
  3. Dont send emails without knowing your audience. For example don't send an application to an agency that specializes only in automotive translations and you are a strict literary translator. You are wasting your time and theirs.

Do's when applying to translation agencies 

  1. Include in your introduction why this agency should hire you as a translator. What sets you apart? Do you have special legal training, are you accredited, how many years experience do you have, etc.
  2. Do find out if the agency prefers emails, snail mail, phone calls or maybe they even have online application forms. Some agencies are quite particular and will delete your email if they have specified that translators should only apply by standard mail.  It is even better to have a name of someone you can send your application to directly.  This way you are able to follow up with them and begin establishing a relationship.
  3. Use your spell check!  Grammar and spelling mistakes are unacceptable if you are selling language services, and those emails will surely end up in the trash bin.

As freelancers we also often bid on jobs through the various websites such as ProZ, TranslatorsCafe, GoTranslators, etc. Here too you may wonder Why did they not answer me, I am the perfect candidate".  Following these Donts and Dos will definitely increase your chances of landing that project.

Donts on bidding: 

  1. Dont bid on a job if it is not within your field of expertise. Just because the job is in your language combo may not mean that you are a suitable candidate. If you bid on a job that is not within your field of expertise the next time the same agency has a job offer in your field of expertise you will likely have already ruined your chances.
  2. Dont bid on a job if it is not your language combination. It is extremely annoying for agencies to receive an answer to a bid from a translator who does not even possess this language combo. These translators are immediately ignored also for future jobs as they appear desperate.
  3. Dont promise something you can't deliver! Often I have seen job postings with completely unreasonable deadlines, but translators still apply and promise to deliver by the due date. At the final hour they suddenly realize they can't finish the project on time and now must inform the agency that they will be late. This doesnt look good and chances are you may not be called again.

Do's on bidding: 

  1. Read the entire job posting BEFORE answering the bid. You want to answer all the questions and make 100% sure that you are the candidate for this job.
  2. Answer all their questions.  Review your answers and make sure that you have NO spelling errors. Potential clients will most likely stop reading your application if they see even one spelling or grammar error.
  3. Add a little note to your bid stating why they should hire your for this job. What do you bring to table that makes you better then someone else?

A little due diligence will go a long way when applying with an agency or bidding on a project. If you pay attention to the details in your application the client will be more likely to hire you, since they will feel confident that you are as diligent in your translation. 

So the next time you ask, Can you hire me now? Chances are that you will say next:  Good. And that is prettywell, good.









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