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The Importance of Soft Skills for Translators

All it takes to become a successful translator is mastering two languages and being able to replace words from one of those languages with words from the other, right? In fact, there are plenty more skills to master if you want to be the kind of translator who gets called first.

There are obvious skills involved in being a world-class translator – an excellent command of two languages, extensive cultural knowledge in both languages, basic software skills, and a knowledge of CAT tools. This raises a question – if these skills are so obviously necessary, why do some freelancers stay busy while others are always waiting for their phones to ring? In large part, the difference comes down to soft skills (or a lack thereof).

Scientists from Harvard, Stanford, and the Carnegie Endowment have found that “flexible skills” represent 85% of a person’s professional success, while “hard skills” make up only 15%. Soft skills indicate an individual’s ability to work with others, grow within a company, build relationships, and solve problems. Listing soft skills on a CV, demonstrating them in an interview, and developing them in the workplace can support a translator’s career and open new doors. With that in mind, here are the most in-demand soft skills you can develop to support your career.

Attention to detail

Thinking through the fine points of a translation project or task can help you visualize the big picture and have a better idea of what the result might look like. Maintaining attention to detail also helps increase productivity and reduces errors.

Organizational skills

Considering that these are the abilities that let a translator stay focused on different tasks and use their time, energy, strength, mental capacity, and physical space as effectively as possible, it’s easy to see why translation agencies value them so highly.

Self-motivation

Self-motivation drives people to keep going even in the face of setbacks, take up opportunities, and show commitment to what they want to achieve. It’s vital to any self-employed individual, including translators.

Communication skills

Communication skills allow you to interact with people effectively and make your presence felt. In a team, being able to communicate effectively with colleagues helps to build trust, strengthen professional relationships, boost teamwork, develop a sense of belonging, and become more productive. In addition, being a good listener (an often-overlooked aspect of communication) makes it easy to receive instructions and helps you respond correctly to changing circumstances.

Flexibility

Flexibility is an important soft skill, since it demonstrates an ability and willingness to embrace new tasks and new challenges calmly and without fuss. A flexible translator is willing to help out wherever they’re needed, take on extra responsibilities, and adapt quickly when plans change. Employers in every industry are looking for candidates who can show a willing and upbeat attitude and who are unfazed by change, and the localization industry is no different.

Dependability

Simply put, being dependable means that you do what you say you will, when you say you will. You can be trusted to complete any task, and you will do it well. In a world of continuous change, staying dependable means managing expectations and always being accountable.

Integrity

Do your job with integrity, and you also exemplify honesty, independence, approachability, and pride in your work – all traits that help you stand out from the competition.

The Argos difference

When we look for translators to work with, our goal is to find expert freelance linguists and in-country language service providers whose standards match ours, and that’s where the skills mentioned above enter the picture. And when it comes to adding value to a partnership, the road doesn’t only travel in one direction – we care about the people we collaborate with, and we pride ourselves on personalized communication, punctual payments, our translator appreciation program, and other initiatives that make us an ideal partner to work with. Visit us online to find out more.

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