Freelance Translator Job Search Tips

Freelance translator job search really does take some patience. The jobs, the types of work, and the employment conditions take a while to assess, and there's a lot of avoidable trial and error in the process.

Job Search Issues

  • Job ads in general: This type of work is advertised on a lot of professional writing and translation sites, and major job boards. The freelance translator job ads are a potential obstacle course, if you don't know how to read them. There are also some ads which should be avoided.

Good job ads have some important distinguishing characteristics:

  1. Name of advertiser is displayed
  2. Clear statement of tasks and type of translation required
  3. Clear statement of budget, remuneration, and terms of employment

You can verify the credentials of the advertiser. They're usually posted by regular out-sourcers in their industries, which can be excellent contacts for further work. They'll have a range of work which makes an obvious match in context with the translation job. A Chinese-English and English-Chinese publisher, for example, will have obvious translation needs.

Some translation jobs can be more like outworking than real jobs. Ads to avoid include:

  1. Any non-specific ad where you're sure what the work involves
  2. Any unprofessionally composed ad
  3. Any ad where you can't verify information regarding the advertiser
  4. Any ad where the terms of remuneration and other obvious basics are missing. The advertiser is either incompetent or looking for people who don't know the industry.
  • Job ads, terms and conditions: Generally, the professional sites are much better quality jobs, and the terms of employment are often created by the sites. Elance.com is a good example, with a clear series of guidelines for contracts.
  • Payment: Always have a good look at rates of payment in your area of translation, so you can make an informed comparison. Some languages attract more money than others, but the type of work also matters. Technical translation, for example, is real technical writing, and the translation quality element is extremely important.

Job Search Techniques

There are so many ads for translators you could spend hours wading through them. A good search routine where you can quickly find the jobs you want is absolutely essential.

This is the simplest approach for finding good jobs:

  • Bookmark the high quality professional sites. Many job boards simple aggregate from these sites anyway, so you can save yourself a lot of time.
  • Check all jobs before applying. Don't miss opportunities by not looking. You need to focus on the jobs which provide the best returns, but you also need to check viability and to be able to structure your work. Some jobs, like media translation can be very heavy workloads with deadlines which can prevent you doing other jobs.
  • Remember that translation is a 2 way street. Don't stick to just one end of the translation process. Check the native language sites regularly. If you speak Chinese, Urdu, Russian or Japanese, this will give you a lot of information. The translation jobs in China, India, Russia and Japan are good indicators of the market at that end. If you're in an English speaking country or Europe, You can get jobs at both ends of the market quite easily.