A 12 -technique guide to writing an effective CV for a freelance translator

I- Build trust with your picture

Create a business photo and review it for free at photofeeler. Upload many photos and pick up the top rated one. The photo you upload in photofeeler you will be rated and commented by humans, not an algorithm.


You can take a photo by yourself or with the help of a friend, it should be in a good lighting condition, smiling and preferably in a professional setting and outfit, check out this full tutorial to help you take a picture by yourself.

Personally, I think that spending some extra money to be photographed by a professional is worth it as it is an essential piece for your CV and online profiles. Besides, you will be using it for a couple of years. Note that professional photographers know how you have to pose in front of a camera, besides they will do some photo editing and photoshop to have a superior result.


II- Avoid verbosity and be concise

(HR coordinator will take less than 30 second to read your CV), to highlight key skills that your client is interested in use bold or underline or a different color (that defines your brand). Do not hesitate to delete information that is not relevant to the job you are applying for.


III- Gather as much information as possible

Your resume should not be generic but it should be targeted to that specific gig or job opening. Read the job description thoroughly and do a further search about the company goals and values to have a better idea about the outsources. When dealing with individual clients Google search them and check their linkedin profile.

Be sure that you understand the key requirements for that job and that you meet them. If your skills and experience do not match with the needs of the client do not apply. You will be wasting your time and theirs.

In-depth search helps you tailor your CV, cover letter and then have a successful the interview.

IV- Resume title also known as headline or tagline

In the resume title use keywords and skills derived from the job description, you are applying for. As a matter of fact, for each job you apply for craft e a specific and well-targeted headline.


V- Use bullet points


To cite your skills, experience, projects, clients, te number of pages and software you use. For CAT tools, subtitling tools, transcription tools add the version of the software you use: Transcribe! 8.64, aegisub 3.22 etc. Be specific and quantify your work experience and achievements as this is more impactful and memorable than being general.

For example, instead of “I use SDL Trados effectively” write I used SDL Trados to translate more than 25 medical projects with a total number of words equal to 150k, for the NAME of client or agency.


VI- Create many versions of your CV each for a specific job application


Each of them will focus on a specific skills or language combination. If the client needs an IT translator from English to Arabic you will write a CV that focuses on that language pair and translation field. Write the corresponding work experience in this field first and use proper word styling (eg bold) to help the HR manager scan easier.


VII- Choose a meaningful name for your CV


It is important to rename your CV properly e.g “Language pair + translator + specialty when seen as an attachment or downloaded by your client he will find it easier and you will look more professional, conscientious and detail oriented.


If you don’t pay enough attention to your CV name you can appear to be unprofessional and careless. See the difference yourself in these two examples, “CV Translator 2016 edited” or “Full-time IT freelance Translator English to French”. In the second example, you provided the client the essential information without even opening the file.


VIII- Write a list of keywords that sums up your specialties and a detailed work history


The dedicated section named specialties to write keywords of your translation work history and a detailed specialty and skills.

In fact, translation agencies crawl your CV and create a database then when needed they will search it to find the right freelancer. Consequently, the simple task of including a section for these keywords will increase dramatically your chances of being discovered and hired.


IX- Create a portfolio to send each time with your CV or send a link to it


– Create a portfolio on your website it is not very complicated as there are many free WordPress plugins that will help you accomplish the task.

– You can also create a portfolio that shows your expertise and send it with your CV.  Add your contact info and your site logo to your portfolio and save it as a PDF.

This is in depth article that will guide you to create an effective translation portfolio.  


X- Contact info

Phone number
Professional email address, I mean here not Gmail or yahoo. To have one you should buy a domain name and website hosting. For example, if your domain name is financetranslator.com your email can be John@financetranslator.com or contact@financetranslator.com in short whatever you choose + @financetranslator.com.

Please note that even if your website is not built yet you can set up a professional email address and use it.
– Your website: you can start with a free website using WordPress or Weebly (but you can’t have a customizable email address)

– Linkedin profile

A facebook page when you will share what you read about your industry. You may also get some gigs from it.


XI- Information to include

– Don’t forget to add other services you offer like: transcription, media monitoring, voice-over, desktop publishing, proofreading, training etc

Where you live now and where you lived before. This is a credential of your language expertise so write it down.  

– Your interests to show who you are. It is preferable that your personal interests are aligned with your work. You may have a passion for reading, writing, some countries’ cultures and your specialties.

– References’ email addresses, phone numbers, and relationship.

– Add a link to your Proz profile is an intelligent option if you have WWA (willing to work again) reviews from past clients.

– Use the icons of skype, Proz, Linkedin, facebook etc to make your resume more attractive.


XII- Do not include these irrelevant information


– Your age 
– Your marital status

– Number of your children


To create a visually attractive CV check out Canva or simply use MS Word templates click file new → type resume in the search bar and choose a template

If you have some extra ideas or a comment feel free to leave a reply below.

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