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 »  Articles Overview  »  Miscellaneous  »  How to apply to agencies and outsourcers

How to apply to agencies and outsourcers

By Desiree Staude | Published  01/4/2012 | Miscellaneous | Recommendation:
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Desiree Staude
English to German translator
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Since I had two translation projects for a third party and I offer agency services, I receive many applications. In the beginning it was nice and I answered each and every mail.

When I had a pool of translators willing to work for me, I provided on each and every profile and on the websites that I was not currently looking for translators and/or agencies and wrote clearly: “Please do not apply!” – Does it work? No. They only seem to see the word 'agency' and apply. I delete every email without answering.

Also, some applications are professional, while other are a good laugh or make me wonder if this person is aware how to run a business. For example:

• An Italian-German-Italian translator writes to me in English, enclosing her Italian CV. – That was a good laugh, and got deleted immediately.

• A German translator currently living in England applies in English, telling me how good he is. Why not telling me in German? I asked him and received only the question if I was not able to read English. It made me raise my eyebrows and delete the email.

• Another German translator, who lives in Germany, also applies in English. That made me raise my eyebrows, too. But the best was yet to come. “My name is Claudia (name changed).”Aha, and? For what position do you apply? The nurse Claudia? Or the waitress Claudia?

• Once I received an email from a young woman who had just finished her language studies. I took the time to inform her about all the things she should take care of when she applies to give her application a professional approach. She was glad I gave her these hints and tips.

I did not know all the following things inthe beginning. However, I am a bilingual secretary and I know how to write business letters and address the person I am writing to in a correct way. Translating jobs within my working fields were also not so different from what I offer as a freelancer.

But writing application letters as a freelance translator is a completely different thing from what I had to do in the past 20+ years of bilingual work experience.

Here are the main tips I have learnt:

• Answer in the language of the job offer (when you submit a quote).

• Apply in the language of the agency. It is fine to apply in English, if you cannot speak the language. But if you claim to speak e.g. German and you apply to a German agency – use German.

• First heck if the agency is looking for new translators. Don’t apply if they aren’t looking for new translators – or do not be surprisedto never hear from them. (

• Be polite. If you do not know this person, call the addressee Mr. or Ms. (even when they just mention their first name, which would be Ms. Anna or Dear Madam).

• Be precise and keep yourself short: don’t write long stories. No one will have time to read them – or be willing to do so. 1-2 sentences at the beginning (introduction) and at the end (referring to references or other) of the application mail is just fine.

Use bullet points for the rest.

• Be aware of quality – even in your application. If you do not care about that, one cannot expect you to pay attention when you work on a project. This counts for spelling, grammar, and formatting.

• Don’t send one application to all possible requests or job offers. Each job/project is different. Your application should be different, too. ‘One for all’ applications will be deleted. Your application is a very strong marketing tool. It’s worth to take your time for it.

• What shall be stated in an application for a job offer?

o The subject line: exact offer description & ref. no. ( job number)

o The addressee: correct name (triple check)

o A short introduction:

- Your experience / why you / competence

- Delivery deadline: date and time (inclusive your or the customer’s time zone – be aware of possible time discrepancy in the customers time zone when the delivery deadline is mentioned -
(You can just repeat what is mentioned in the job offer; it shows that you are aware what they want. If you say you would deliver earlier, it must be earlier!)

- Your value for this project.

- The format: e.g. British or American English, Swiss German, Austrian German…

- The file Format: which file format will the target text be.
Normally job offers only mention Microsoft Word. Fine, will you be able to also deliver .docx files or only .doc files? That needs to be clarified with the customer when it gets into negotiations or when you take this project. To mention it at the beginning will be helpful for the customer to see, if they can send you .docx files or not. Sometimes they do not imagine one does not work with Office 2007 or 2010.

- Pricing: exact price – don’t mention a rating from e.g. 0,10-0,20 EUR/word. Be precise!

- Terms of payment: mention your terms of payment. If the customer has different terms of payment, they will inform you.

- Full contact information: your full name, telephone number (if you want to), time zone, availability, websites, references, etc.

I hope this helps you to get your application be seen and read, and provides you with projects!

Please also refer to this article:
A few marketing tips for online freelance translators from a customer view point (

Watch (buy) this video:
Quote to Win : How to win projects on the freelance marketplace (

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