Whether you’ve just graduated from university, completed vocational training, or have already been exploring the job market for a few years: it is becoming more and more common for people to start searching for job opportunities abroad. In order to do this, you need to attract your future employer’s attention from afar – and this means creating a flawless version of your application documents in the appropriate language. After all, your covering letter, CV, degree certificates and references come together to form your personal business card, which is the first step towards your professional future abroad.
Do it yourself or ask the professionals?
It is hard enough putting together an application in your native language, let alone a foreign one. You need to leave behind a positive, competent and lasting impression in just a few sentences. First impressions count! Therefore, it is vital that your documents are translated perfectly.
Lara Maroccini, one of lingoking’s specialist German<>English translators, says, ‘In the wake of globalisation, the world is moving closer and closer together – it is as if we live in a global village. The job market has also become extremely internationalised. Companies are increasingly relying on foreign employees, as they know that their intercultural knowledge and linguistic capabilities are invaluable. Therefore, it is extremely important for every applicant who wishes to work abroad or for a foreign company to leave a lasting first impression.’
There are some important aspects to consider. Only those who offer an appealing, linguistically correct and interesting application are going to be the ones celebrating that invitation to a job interview.
Translating your application documents by yourself – finding help on the web
If you are a fluent speaker of the language in which you need your documents, then you are almost certainly thinking about translating them by yourself. You most likely also know somebody who is qualified and willing to lend a hand with either the translation or proofreading process. Websites like linguee.com, leo.org or dict.cc are also reliable online word references, available to help in many languages. Linguee even offers help with collocations and phrases – however, watch out for the translations marked with a yellow exclamation mark. This highlights that correctness cannot be guaranteed!
What to watch out for when translating into English
Do you want to translate your application documents by yourself, but you’re not sure what to look out for? Don’t panic! We have created a short guide to demonstrate what to look out for when translating your documents into a foreign language. Here are a few country-specific tips and text examples to writing an application in the English-speaking world.
- The ‘covering letter’ (UK English) or ‘cover letter’ (US English) should not ramble on, and should be no longer than one page of writing.
- Contact details: in the head of the letter, on the right or left-hand side above the text, give your contact details including address, telephone number, email address etc. On the left-hand side put the name and address of the recipient.
- Salutation: instead of some of the more formal addresses in other languages, in English use the more personal ‘Dear Mr/Mrs XY’. Try to avoid impersonal addresses like ‘Sir or Madam’. Make the effort and find out the appropriate contact partner, which demonstrates your motivation.
- There are small differences between the way dates are written in UK and US English. The date can be written on the right or left-hand side, and in UK English reads ’10 August 2016’, and in US English ‘August 10, 2016’.
- The subject of the letter follows the salutation, although this is optional.
- The standard font of choice is Arial or Times New Roman. The smallest font size that should be used is size 10, to ensure good readability.
- It is most important for the covering letter to be well-structured. English-speaking countries really focus on the main part of the letter, whereby they describe their educational and professional background. A confident, dynamic style of writing that describes your successes through key words like ‘established’, ‘launched’ or ‘acquired’ is the key to a good letter, and is something that every employer wants to read.
- Before you conclude the covering letter, make it very clear that you would like the opportunity to have a face-to-face job interview. Take an assertive approach and say that you will call them within the next few days to discuss your application further.
- The appropriate closing salutation at the end of the covering letter is ‘yours sincerely’ or ‘respectfully yours’, and a personal signature follows.
- Enclosed documents: underneath your signature, write ‘enc.’ which is short for ‘enclosure’. This indicates to the recipient that your covering letter is accompanied by a copy of your CV. Make a note that in the UK and USA, no school reports or certificates are enclosed, merely the CV.
- Make sure that you get a native speaker to proofread your translated covering letter for you! Ensure that they look out for both orthographical and grammatical mistakes.
Here is an example covering letter including a CV for you to use as reference.
For help translating your transcript or diploma, please see our page that covers this area specifically.
There are lots of different things to look out for in every language – make sure you thoroughly research each language’s application expectations and norms so that you’re translated application does not contain any howling errors.