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Written by Montserrat González

Montserrat is a professional translator who likes to read and write fictional stories. There's nothing she enjoys more than spending time with her friends and family.

September 23, 2020

Common mistakes of rookie translators

No matter where you work, we’ve all been newbies at work at some point in our lives. If you’re a translator, in this article we’ll talk about the most common mistakes that most of us make during the start of our professional life, so you can avoid them.


Not knowing how to distribute your time

Working as a freelancer has its own advantages and disadvantages. Something that falls in between is that you can organize your own schedule and choose to accept or reject work around it. On one hand, it’s amazing to have enough flexibility and freedom to do other activities or to attend other appointments.

On the other hand, the issue is not knowing how to organize all the assignments and fail to deliver a translation on time. Or, leave your work for the last minute resulting in a bad translation because you made it in a hurry.

When you are a freelance translator, you should never say, “I’ll do it later.” It’s not just a matter of finishing the job, but the faster you finish an assignment, the more time you’ll have to look for other job offers, accepting new assignments, and enjoying your free time, of course.


Forget your presence on-line

We usually hear, “if it’s not on the Internet, it doesn’t exist.” This applies to every professional, no matter their career, who offer their services on line.

That’s why I recommend you to have a good on line presence that is connected to your professional persona. For example, it’s always good to have a LinkedIn profile, since many companies use Google and this social network to check your professional background; just in case. there is something suspicious or negative that isn’t on your resume.

If you want something bigger than that, you can create your own web page for your professional profile.


Not writing a presentation letter to answer job offerings

On line job offerings usually ask for your resume, which is the most important thing; therefore, many people decide to send their emails with only a note stating that the CV is attached. No greeting, no introduction, or default presentation message. Nothing. Nothing that says that you have something in common with the position offered.

Now that you’re reading this, you know you can’t make this mistake again. Always write a short presentation letter that shows in an intelligent manner that you are the most suitable candidate for the job and that they should choose you for it.

I personally understand that in the translation world there’s always a small window to accept a new assignment. You and I both know that there are many translators postulating for the same job. And if you’re trying to write something personalized and witty on the spot. By the time you finish it, the job offering might already be closed.

If you want to avoid that problem, you can make a template, which you can modify according to the work you are trying to get. For example, if you’re applying to be a literary translator, you don’t need to say that you’re an excellent legal translator, because these areas aren’t remotely related and the company may think that you didn’t read the job description.


Not knowing how to read your customers true intentions

It’s not uncommon that we undervalue our skills when we start working, so we accept the first thing that comes along. And, since we’re so thrilled about our first project, we can’t identify the signs that indicate we aren’t getting pay.

Whenever you receive an assignment from a new company, don’t forget to check on line if you’re dealing with a professional company. Proz is a great option to investigate an agency’s background. You can also check social networks and on-line forums to find out if someone posted negative comments that will let you know the client’s professionalism.

These are the most common mistakes rookie translators make. I can say that I made those mistakes in the past, so I want to share what I know with you. I hope they help grow and develop as a professional, without hitting the same walls as the rest of us.


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