7 rules to break to create a killer freelance translator resume

If there's one thing that stymies even the best of freelance translators, it's how to create an effective resume.

You may not realize it, but your resume is a sales tool.

Which means you need to avoid the rules for normal resumes.

Below, I explain the rules you've been following and how to break them to start attracting more translation clients.

Be boring

Most freelance translators are deathly afraid of having any personality in their resumes.

This means you end up creating a snooze-fest that is boring to look at. Boring means forgettable.

Your first order of business: Get a resume template that has a professional image.

Break the rule:

You can find a million interesting templates at Creative Market and Graphic River/Envato.

The cost for your template is in the range of $5 to $20, so we are really not talking about anything expensive here!

But if you really can't imagine spending money, you can always grab a template in Canva for free: Canva resume templates.

Don't add a photo

Now, you've also probably heard that you should not add a photo to your resume.

But this advice has traditionally been given to protect people from discrimination.

Another reason cited for the no-picture rule is that it detracts people from reading about your skills.

But you are not applying "for a job"--you are going after freelance work!--so this rule does not apply to you.

Break the rule: Add your photo so that prospective clients see you are a real and authentic person. This reassures them that you're not a scammer and that you are a professional.

**Take the opportunity to get a professional head shot (and add it to the rest of your marketing materials, while you're at it!)

Don't connect to your client's sector

A common fatal flaw is a lack of targeting, as freelance translators tend to create a generic resume for any client.

This is a huge mistake! You are forcing your client to dig through your information to figure out your relevance to their business.

Your future freelance translation clients want to know right away whether you have done work in their sector. And they want to know this way before they want to know that you have a degree in translation.

Break the rule: At the top of your resume, explain why you are passionate about your client's industry. Make it specific, so that there is no question about the clients you want to get.

Don't have a mission

Forget the idea that you are simply listing off skills and experience on your resume.

A resume is your chance to tell your client what you are trying to do with your translation service.

Break the rule: Add a mission statement to explain how you help clients get a result, receive a benefit or achieve a goal.

Don't explain your value

You may shy away from explaining your value to freelance translation clients because you don't want to oversell yourself and then underwhelm.

I can't say it enough: you can't expect clients to guess why you would be valuable to them.

If you make them guess, they won't come up with the answer you want.

Break the rule: Spell out why clients should work with you. Be clear. Be specific. For example:

**As a side note, if you don't feel you have value statements, then you have more of a business problem than a resume problem. Work on building your value!

Be chronological

A chronic rule for resumes is to list all of your work experience starting from your most recent job.

For a freelance translator resume?

Nope. In fact, for our purposes, time is of no importance.

Break the rule: Simply list the clients you've had in the past, or within a specific time period.

Don't provide testimonials

The idea behind this rule is that you can find anyone to say anything about you, so these opinions don't hold water with employers.

For a freelance translation resume, that's only true if you provide a testimonial that isn't relevant, i.e., how you were a great babysitter when you were twelve.

Break the rule:  Provide a testimonial from someone who works in the exact same sector. That way, your client knows that someone exactly like them appreciated your work. Which means your new prospect will love it too.

Add all of your education, awards and certificates

Adding all of this stuff is a quick way to bore your prospects.

Your prospective clients want to know how you can fulfill their specific translation needs--not where you went to school when you were five.

However, if you feel that adding some of these achievements ups your authority quotient, then by all means, add them.

But put this information in a secondary area and not in prime real estate on your resume.

Break the rule: Are you a medical translator who is a certified medical editor and who has a certificate in specialized nursing techniques?  Then this is the best information to add to your resume. If not, remember that no one cares where you went to high school and that you were the most gifted oboist in your band.

If you don't have related education, you can try including any industry-relevant articles you've written, or list any research, projects or volunteer work you've done in the sector.

Again, this experience shows that you know your client's business and can bring more to the table than just language skills.

Check out my resumes

Below are samples of my different resumes that I use for different sectors.

Use them to inspire your own resume, but remember that these ones are for my own particular situation, so always adapt to your own situation.

Nonprofit resume

Communications and marketing resume

Public sector resume

Technical sectors resume

If you want to redo your resume and get some feedback, just join The Translator's Life Facebook group and post it there!