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How should a linguist craft their resume and portfolio?

How should a linguist craft their resume and portfolio?

To whom it may concern

My name is Alina, and I’m a recruiter at Allcorrect. Since 2008, we’ve worked on video game localization, LQA, and creating outsourced art. My job is to recruit translators, and I review a lot of resumes from linguists every day.

In this article, I’ll discuss how to properly craft your resume and cover letter to make your job hunt as short as possible.

Why is professionalism important?

Skilled professionals are always in demand. A well-made resume will always look more effective when compared to others. It greatly increases the likelihood of a recruiter noticing you, remembering your resume, and, as a result, reaching out to you specifically.

The most common mistakes linguists make when applying for positions

Starting an email with a set phrase

Email from a job-seeker

Email from a job-seeker

This article’s epigraph was chosen for a reason. Around 50% of emails from job-seekers start with this opening line. It’s a set phrase that disappoints and makes you realize that you’re just one of a hundred recipients who have been bcc’d in the email.

When a recruiter gets an email that starts with this line, they give a mental greeting to 130 other recruiters. A mass email using an introduction like “Hello Dear” or “I do translations” will never compare to a more professional approach. Strive for quality over quantity. When you respond to a job opening, check to see if it gives the name of the HR representative, the name of the company or the position you’re applying for. If a name is given, then it’s much more effective to address the recruiter directly (e.g., “Dear Alina”) or use the name of the company (“Dear Allcorrect team”). This lets the recruiter know that the email is being sent to them personally and the applicant isn’t writing to lots of people all at once. It shows a more responsible approach to the job-search process and a true interest in the opening.

Not including a cover letter

The body of many job openings includes a phrase like “In your cover letter, describe why you want to work at our company/why you are interested in this position” or the scarier question, “Why should we hire you?”

There are several reasons why you should include a cover letter:

  1. It helps you round out your application and explain your motivation, ideas, and thoughts in more depth.
  2. A request for a cover letter (say, for a position as an editor) is a way for the recruiter to see how well you use grammar and punctuation, assess your writing skills, and determine if you are able to express yourself clearly and accurately.
  3. In some cases, not including a cover letter can be a dealbreaker for a candidate. If they didn’t write a cover letter, it means they didn’t attentively read the text of the job listing (or didn’t read the entire thing). The requirements weren’t met, so the candidate can’t be considered.
  4. Sometimes, when considering multiple candidates, the choice will come down to the information in the cover letter: which applicant is more motivated to be hired, which applicant better understands the specifics of the position, and which is more willing to put in the necessary effort.

Unfortunately, instead of cover letters, an email might include just a period, a smiley face or a sentence full of errors and typos. Don’t ignore the request for a cover letter, and thoroughly check your text before sending it.

Application for a position as an editor

Application for a position as an editor

Cover letters generally have a clear structure:

  1. Opening.
  2. Informative paragraph. Discuss your relevant experience.
  3. Motivation paragraph. Let the employer know why you’re interested in this position and what benefit you can offer to the company.
  4. Conclusion. Explain why you want to work for the company and close the letter professionally. Include your contact information.

Example:
(1) Dear Ekaterina, My name is Mary, and I am writing to express my interest in joining the team at Allcorrect.
(2) I worked as a freelancer with Eliot Games in 2017. From 2018 to 2021 I was an in-house editor at Sunny Games, where I worked on editing and proofreading in-game texts in Spanish and English. Since 2020, I have been the head of the editing department.
(3) I’m sure that I can contribute to the success of your company, as I possess the following skills:
• excellent written and oral communication,
• touch typing and good typing speed,
• experience with CAT tools,
• proofreading and making suggestions for improving texts,
• follow-up evaluations of EN-ES translations.
(4) Working for Allcorrect would be a great way to help me expand my skills. And it offers a new field for my professional development. I also welcome the opportunity to be involved in the world of game development.
Thank you!

Sincerely,
Mary Jones
+1 (555) 555-1234
Mary_Jones@gmail.com

Keep in mind that your cover letter creates the first impression of you as a professional, your motivation, and your goals. It should be short and to-the-point. Divide it logically into paragraphs for ease of reading.

Copying all the information from your resume in your cover letter

Every recruiter thoroughly reads the text of a resume and studies the information about the applicant’s experience. It’s wrong to think that HR only gives resumes a once-over or reads “between the lines.” So, there’s no need to repeat all the information from your resume in your cover letter.

Sending other documents instead of a resume/cover letter (photographs, screenshots of notes, personal materials)

We’ve received everything under the sun instead of resumes and cover letters: screenshots of notes, photos from camera galleries, irrelevant links, videos of performances and dances, restaurant menus, and even a photo of pistols. Always double-check the files that you attach. Sending irrelevant documents or information is a sign of inattentiveness and lack of professionalism on the applicant’s part.

A photo attached instead of a resume

A photo attached instead of a resume

Including negative phrases

Try to stick to a neutral tone. Don’t use phrases like “If you don’t hire me, then…,” “You won’t find anyone better than me,” “You always pass me over,” “This is the Xth time I’ve applied for this position…,” and so on. Remember that your application shapes the first impression of you. It’s very hard to change a first impression once it’s made, so make an effort to show off your best side.

Grammatical or punctuation mistakes

A true professional should know how to express themselves accurately and has excellent spelling and punctuation skills. This is particularly true for linguists applying for positions as editors and translators. Working in these roles requires a love for language, understanding of nuances, and thorough attention to detail when you write. Be attentive and double-check your writing. Read your text out loud or to someone else before sending it.

Most common mistakes in linguistic resumes

Intentional misrepresentation

The expression “the truth will out” is well-known. Even still, it’s all too common to find fake (or seriously embellished) experience or nonexistent projects in linguists’ resumes.

A few years ago, our company started work on a project to localize a game into French. We went to a well-known website and found the profile of a translator with excellent experience in the language pair, lots of completed projects, etc. It’s a match! Only after we’d submitted the project to the client did we find out that Paul the Frenchman was not who he said he was. He was not a native speaker, and his name was not even Paul. This led to the client rejecting the work, saying that it contained 5th-grade level mistakes and that we needed to redo everything. You can probably imagine how many problems we had to solve because of the false information the linguist gave us. You can read more about this and other mistakes that cost us dearly here.

Not including up-to-date contact information or only including one way to contact you

Include several types of contact information in your resume: telephone number, email, a link to your social media profile or a messenger app.
Use a professional email address.

Unprofessional: cutiepie93@gmail.com, xXyour_boi_bobbyXx@yahoo.com, supbitches@aol.com
Professional: John.Jones@gmail.com, Smith_Translations@outlook.com, MaryMcDonald@yahoo.com
Put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes: imagine you get an excellent resume and cover letter, but the email comes from screwyou1234@gmail.com. It throws you for a loop and makes you think the candidate isn’t serious about their application.

Make sure you’ve included contact details. We really do want to reach out to you!

Using the same resume for different positions

If you’re responding to a job opening for “English to Spanish Video Game Translator,” you should make a separate resume with a detailed description of your relevant experience in that industry. Unfortunately, oftentimes in response to a specific job opening, we receive 5-page resumes with descriptions of experience translating scientific articles, films and TV series, or documents for the medical or gas industry. Only one bullet point on the last page mentions the candidate’s experience localizing games.

Including information that isn’t up-to-date

Make sure to update all the information on your resume regularly. Update the contact information, rates, projects, and achievements. Did you recently take a course on IT translation? Add it to your resume. Do you have a set rate for freelance work? Add it. Have you finished work on a project? Include it in your portfolio. If you’ve signed an NDA that prevents you from mentioning the name of the game, include the genre and work volume.

Choosing the wrong photograph for your resume

If you want to add a photo to your resume, choose a regular one that only shows you and nothing else. Over-the-top, intense photos from your personal life don’t suit a resume, and can create the wrong impression.

Writing your resume in your native language

A resume for an EN-CN video game translator

A resume for an EN-CN video game translator

A resume written in your native language (if you aren’t in the same country as the recruiter) makes the hiring process more difficult and increases the time it takes to process information. If you aren’t sure what language to send your resume in, attach two versions: one in English and one in your native language.

Conclusion

I hope that our article proves useful to anyone who’s looking for their dream job. Looking at your resume through a recruiter’s eyes might help you find something to add or remove. We’re looking forward to getting your applications for positions at Allcorrect! Best of luck!

Click this link to view a breakdown of a resume that incorporates all the points in this article. All the information is fictional, and any resemblance to actual email addresses or telephone numbers is coincidental.

I’ll also add a few useful links for anyone planning to make a resume: