How to show flexibility in freelance applications

What we like to see in freelance applications from freelancers – Part 4 – Flexibility

This is Part 4 of my blog article talking about what we like to see in applications from freelancers. In Part 1, we talked about how to make sure your email doesn’t get deleted right away. In Part 2, we talked about the various methods available to show that you produce a high standard of work. In Part 3, we talked about ways to show you a professional. In this part, we’re going to focus on your flexibility.

Demonstrating flexibility and software skills in freelance applications

Flexibility takes time to develop, and when you first start out, I would suggest it’s better to do one thing well than try to do dozens of things and get them all wrong. Many agencies are happy for you to use whatever CAT tools you prefer as long as you can save the output in TMX format or similar. However, from time to time, we have to use certain software programs for various technical reasons, and need our freelancers to do the same. In these cases we need people who are able to use these specific programs.

Flexibility

Flexibility

Let me reiterate a point here. If you say, for example, that you can use MemoQ, even though you’ve only ever actually used it once and never really understood it, hoping to attract more jobs, there’s no way you will be able to handle any technical issues, and in the end you won’t be able to deliver the job. Let’s be clear, technical issues are far more common than we would like, especially with complex file formats. Part of being a translator is being able to handle and resolve most technical issues. If you can’t deliver and have to give up, you’ll have damaged your relationship with us permanently; you are better off focusing on what you are actually good at.

Phrasing like “I can use most major software programs,” sets off alarm bells. It’s better to list them one by one. Don’t list a program unless you can actually do it, and if you do it, make sure you are able to handle any technical issues which come up.

Apart from just telling us that you can use the software, you can go one better and get proof! A course in Microsoft Office or advanced Microsoft Word or some CAT tool does wonders for your application prospects.

As well as CAT tools, the same is true for things like Microsoft Office and any DTP tools. Make sure you know how to use them before you list them on your CV. Remember that software changes frequently, so it might be good to mention which versions of the software you are familiar with. I would strongly recommend also looking into advanced proofreading add-ins or stand-alone software such as PerfectIt or ASAP Utilities, which can help you further improve the quality of your output.

So the golden rule with software and services is to only offer what you can actually do, and always deliver what you say you can. With technology, depth of knowledge is more important than breadth. If you “take a gamble” and accept a job in a new software program, it might work out fine, but it also might turn into a technical nightmare.

Next week, we’ll publish the final part of this series, rounding off everything we’ve covered, and hopefully producing a useful set of guidelines for all freelance applications.