“Well, duh. Everyone can write an email” is what you’re probably thinking, but you’d be surprised. This article isn’t about how to write the content of an email – that’s a given. What it aims to get you thinking about are the all important aspects which go beyond the email body; smaller considerations which often go forgotten; elements which will make your email stand out as professional and well thought out, which are of particular importance when writing an email to advertise your services as a translator. Here are a few things to think about... and a few to avoid:
- Your email address – "firstname.lastname@example.org" just isn’t going to cut it. A simple "your_name@..." is much more professional. Including your whole name in the email address rather than a nickname or pseudonym also means that you can be found again more easily if your email is in among fifty others received the same day.
- Don’t neglect the subject line! The subject line is the first piece of information a recipient receives when they log onto their email system. Make sure that a) you have one and b) it clearly reflects what you’re emailing about in as few words as possible. A good example is an email from a new translator introducing themselves to an agency – rather than your subject line being “Future work” or “Application”, make sure you include the language combination in there too. Then, if the agency has a specific folder for new translators, they don’t need to search through your email body to find out what it is you’re offering, instead the information is right there for them.
- Tone – keep it professional: no smileys, no “lol”s, and no writing about what you did at the weekend unless you personally know the recipient!
- Spell check – spelling mistakes in an email offering translation services is a major no no, especially when you are writing to prospective clients or employers for the first time. If your email account doesn’t offer an inbuilt spell checker, copy and paste your email into a word document and run the spell check there. This could stop your email landing straight in the “deleted” folder.
- Signature – create one that automatically signs off every new email you send (have a look in your email account’s “Options” menu). Good to include are contact details and any professional associations you are a member of or relevant qualifications you have, i.e.:
Best wishes / Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Associate of the Institute of Translation & Interpreting
Tel: 0044 (0)123 456789