When I first started out, I didn’t really have a strategy for applying to agencies. I pretty much applied to any agency that didn’t ask for 5 years of experience. After a while, I couldn’t remember which agencies I’d already applied to so I created an Excel document to keep track. I have an Excel file for nearly everything!
Like my project management system, this method of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is not particularly sophisticated but it does the job effectively.
In my Excel document, I have two tabs labelled ‘CRM’ and ‘Organisations’.
Let’s start with the Organisations sheet. This sheet is my personal database: a list of all of the agencies, professional bodies, freelance platforms, volunteer organisations and potential recruiters that I’ve come across in my research.
These are the columns I use to organise the sheet.
The first column is labelled Tr/In.
So for a translation agency, I would fill in Tr, for an interpreting agency, In, and for agencies that provide both, Tr/In. I know agencies offer many other services so you can adapt this column for yourself. You don’t want it to get too complicated though.
The next column is for the Organisation Name. Type refers to the type of organisation, i.e. agency, professional body, freelance platform.
In the fourth column, Contact, I insert the name and contact details of the person I liaised with, who may be a recruitment professional or project manager. If I don’t have a specific contact, I add in the generic contact details of the organisation.
After Website, I fill in the location(s) of the organisation as this may sometimes be relevant. For instance, an agency I work for has offices in the US and France, and each office sends me work separately.
Finally, I write any additional information in the Notes column. This information may be areas of specialisation, specific requirements or how to apply. When agencies need x years of experience, I make sure to note it down so that I can apply in the future.
I also include dodgy organisations in my list, as well as low or late payers, and highlight them in red. I always check the list of scammers if an organisation looks suspicious. Translator forums such as the ITI London Regional Network can help to identify scammers too, as well as low or late payers. Whenever a forum member makes a negative comment about an agency, I note it down for future reference.
The CRM sheet is where I keep track of my applications, and organisations that have my details. It is separated into sections like so:
I hope the sections are fairly self-explanatory.
I have included a section for volunteer organisations and freelance platforms so that I don’t forget where I have created a profile. It is important to keep profiles updated as your business develops, especially on platforms such as ProZ.com or TheOpenMic, which agencies and clients may use to learn more about you. Similarly as you gain experience and skills, you may be able to re-contact organisations with special requirements.
Every time I insert an organisation into my CRM sheet, I add the date I signed up or the date my application was approved, and other relevant information such as agreed rates. I also note the date I last sent an updated CV.
An Excel document is a easy way to keep track of your applications when you’re starting out but you may eventually want to invest in a CRM tool. There are paid and free options out there which I have yet to try. For now, I’m happy to continue using Excel but I know I can improve my system. I’d love to hear your suggestions!