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Resume Tips for Interpreters

As the world becomes more globalized, the demand for interpreters is on the rise. However, with the increase in competition, it's important for you to have a strong resume that showcases your skills and experience.

Here are my top resume tips so you can create a successful resume following current trends:

Professional summary vs. Career objective

The current resume trend is to use a professional summary instead of a career objective. A professional summary is a brief statement at the top of your resume that highlights your experience, skills, and achievements. It provides a quick snapshot of your qualifications and how they align with the job requirements.

On the other hand, a career objective is a statement that outlines your career goals and what you hope to achieve in your next job. The problem with a career objective is that it's often too generic and doesn't provide specific information about your qualifications. A professional summary is more effective because it's a more targeted and effective way to showcase your skills and experience.

This is an example of a professional summary:

Experienced Mandarin/English interpreter with 2 years of telephonic and video remote interpretation expertise in the healthcare industry. Skilled in medical terminology and HIPAA regulations. Able to provide accurate and confidential interpretation services in the consecutive modality to facilitate communication between patients and healthcare providers. Committed to delivering exceptional interpretation services in a professional and culturally sensitive manner.

Highlight your skills

As an interpreter, your language skills are the most important asset you bring to the table. It's essential to highlight your language skills on your resume by listing all the languages you speak and your proficiency level.

I would advise you not to limit yourself to the typical options used by most professionals who aren't linguists, such as working proficiency, intermediate proficiency, etc.

Instead, I would encourage you to offer an objective reference by specifying your proficiency level based on a language proficiency test score or following the CEFR or the ACTFL standards.

If you haven't taken an official language proficiency test yet, there are free options online that you can use to provide an unofficial measure of your command of a language.

You can also mention any experience you have working in a bilingual or multilingual environment.

Remember also to list your soft skills (such as communication, cultural awareness, adaptability, time management, etc.) and your technical skills (such as being proficient using an interpreting platform/software, command of specific interpreting modalities, etc.) on a separate section of your resume.

Emphasize your industry expertise

Interpreting services are required in various industries, such as healthcare, legal, business, and education. It's essential to showcase your expertise in the different industries where you've had professional experience.

Here's a sample bullet point for an interpreter's resume emphasizing industry experience in community interpreting:

  • Successfully interpreted in over [#] community settings, including medical clinics, schools, and social services agencies, utilizing expert knowledge of medical terminology, educational policies, and community resources.

Use action-oriented language

Using action-oriented language on your resume can help you stand out from other candidates. Instead of using passive language like "responsible for" or "involved in," use active verbs like "facilitated," "translated," or "interpreted." This language will help the hiring manager understand your role and the impact you had in your previous positions.

Here's an example:

  • Facilitated effective communication between English and Spanish-speaking parties by accurately interpreting complex courtroom proceedings in over [#] trials.

Quantify your achievements

Use numbers and metrics to show your value. Enhance the impact of your achievements by incorporating numbers into your resume. For example, instead of writing "Interpreted for LEP patients at ACME Hospital" you can say, "Interpreted in more than 1,250 encounters for patients with limited English proficiency and their healthcare providers at ACME Hospital"

If you lack professional experience, highlight your training instead. For example, you can say, "Completed 60 hours of medical interpreter training, including coursework in medical terminology, cultural competence, and ethics."

By highlighting your training and relevant coursework, you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in the field, even if you haven't had the opportunity to gain professional experience yet.

You can also mention any volunteer work or internships related to interpretation that you have completed, as they can demonstrate your skills and commitment to the profession.

Use job ads as a tool

When crafting your resume, use job ads as a tool to tailor your application to its specific requirements. Carefully review job ads to identify the key skills, qualifications, and experiences required. Then, highlight relevant skills and experiences on your resume that match those requirements.

This helps to demonstrate to the potential employer or client that you have the skills and experience they are seeking in a candidate.

Additionally, using similar language and phrasing from the job listing in your resume can help to catch the attention of hiring managers and increase the likelihood of being selected for an interview.

Now, If you’ve tried personalizing your resume to match the job ad to no avail, you may not possess the skills required for the job you seek. In this case, you may wonder, what do I do? Well, those same job ads can be useful for learning which skills, qualifications, or certifications are most sought after in our industry and set out to earn them.

Use the job ads as roadmaps showing exactly what you need to succeed. Use them to find holes in your resume and then figure out how to fill them.

Keep it short and concise

Keep your resume short and concise, ideally one or two pages. The hiring manager will likely have to review numerous resumes, so make sure yours is easy to read and highlights your key skills and experience. Use bullet points and avoid long paragraphs. Also, ensure your resume is well-organized, with clear headings and sections.

Keep the design simple

Keep the design simple and readable, especially with the rise of applicant tracking systems (ATS). Instead of using fancy design elements like busy borders or images, focus on using a clear and straightforward format that will be easy for the ATS to read.

Using common section headers like SKILLS, WORK HISTORY, and EDUCATION can also ensure that the software easily understands your resume. By tailoring your resume design for ATS readability, you can increase your chances of getting noticed by potential employers and landing your next interpreting job.

Choose your resume template carefully

Consider the resume template that best showcases your skills and experience, especially if you have limited work experience or an inconsistent work history. Choosing the right template can help draw attention to your strengths and make your resume stand out to potential employers.

A functional resume template may be the most effective option for interpreters with more training and education but little work experience. This type of template highlights your skills and qualifications rather than your work history, which can help emphasize your potential as an interpreter.

In contrast, interpreters with a more traditional work history may benefit from using a chronological resume template showcasing their career progression.

It's also worth considering a combination resume template, which incorporates elements of both functional and chronological formats. This can be a good option for interpreters who want to highlight specific skills or experiences while showcasing their work history.

I highly recommend to create your resume. It's a free resume builder (with an optional upgrade) that allows you to try different templates and formats by entering your details only once. Still, I encourage you to explore the many options available online.

In conclusion, crafting a strong resume is a critical step in any interpreter's job search. With these tips in mind, I wish you the best of luck in your job search or updating your resume. With hard work and perseverance, you can find the interpreting job or contract that perfectly fits your skills and experience.

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Judith Briggs
Judith Briggs

Thank you so much for the tips.


wilsonne Guerrier
wilsonne Guerrier

Hi there, please I would like to work with you,can you help me

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