Connect with Potential Employers Online
The websites ProZ and TranslatorsCafé, specifically geared toward the translation industry, provide access to directories of translation agencies to which you can offer your services. Both sites feature job search boards for translators working in hundreds of different language combinations. In addition to the various sites targeted directly at translators, social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter offer sources of job opportunities. Regardless of which sites you use, make sure you complete your profile and connect with both translators and agencies to maximize your chances of landing a gig. Click here for Twitter tips for translators.
Networking Face to Face
Actively networking and seeking out off-line relationships with other translators can reap rewards in terms of generating leads. Consider joining one of the many professional societies for translators, and attend professional development events and seminars whenever possible. Translators on ProZ also organize get-togethers (powwows) where you can meet colleagues and possibly make professional contacts that will bring you work.
Spread the Word
Promoting your translation services through word of mouth remains one of the best methods for capturing new clients. Let family and friends know you are looking for work, and keep a stack of business cards on hand to distribute to potential clients.
Develop a Niche
Translation agencies and direct clients frequently look for translators with specialized, content-specific expertise. If you do not currently have a niche, you ought to consider developing one to be more competitive.
Send out Résumés
Send emails to translation agencies and include your résumé/CV and website information. In the case of a local agency, make the extra effort to go in person and introduce yourself with résumé in hand. Make sure that your résumé is free of spelling and grammatical errors, which are unprofessional under any circumstances but particularly lethal if you are a linguist. Visit our post Résumé Writing Tips for Translators.
Consider Freelance vs. In-house
Freelance translation provides freedom, flexibility and variety. Since you are the boss, you have the option of picking and choosing those projects that best suit your skills and interests. In addition, savvy freelancers who market themselves effectively can pick up clients from around the globe. However, freelancing requires the translator to wear all sorts of hats; you will be responsible for everything from accounting to advertising. Working at home also demands a lot of discipline that not everyone can muster. Get more information about working as a freelance translator here.
In-house translators generally work a fixed, full-time schedule at a company. These positions offer the promise of guaranteed income and a steady flow of projects, plus a support team at the company that takes care of all the logistics that a freelancer must manage alone. In-house translation positions allow linguists to acquire lots of experience, but translators in this environment generally focus on just one subject.