Get Hired: Using Corporate-Familiar Language as a Localization Professional
Looking for a new job? Here’s today’s bad news. Nobody is employing a localization engineer or an internal CAT specialist, at least not when you apply with those titles on a resume/CV. They might be hiring for globalization – but that’s for someone who understands biostatistics, not languages. In today’s world of automated recruitment technology, job titles common in the localization industry seem meaningless. Why? And how can you succeed despite a lack of a common hiring language?
The Current State of Affairs
A recent CSA Research survey asked respondents to name their jobs. The replies – 2,199 in total, including both LSPs and buyers – named over 240 unique, buy-side job titles. Ranging from the ubiquitous “Project Manager” to more descriptive-yet-insular titles such as “Manager, Marketing Localization” and the more obscure – at least to anyone more familiar with felines than translation – “Product Manager, CAT Interfaces.”
- People in the localization industry know how to talk to themselves. Localization experts expound on translation, terminology management, internationalization, and global content management. A globalization engineer knows what a post-editor from China does. A localization manager from France understands the role of a project manager at an LSP. There is a common language and well-defined job descriptions within the industry, but it is often limited to localization teams. It is a language rarely spoken by recruiters or the technology they use.
- People new to localization and their HR teams do not speak the language. Newcomers to “global” do not intuitively know where to find a terminologist, or even know why it’s important to hire one. Instead, they search for a brand manager and hope that the person will figure out what to do when the company expands overseas. They don’t advertise for a globalization expert; they simply hire a program manager and ask them to oversee the flow of content from one market to another.
- Globalization is an ugly word, if you don’t speak localization. Language experts use “globalization” to embrace all aspects of “going global” including processes to ensure that code, content, services, technology, programs, and more are appropriate for each and every market, anywhere in the world. However, mention globalization outside this environment, and it becomes a geopolitical concept. The word conjures up faceless institutions moving jobs and income away from hometowns and has political overtones. Therefore, “globalization” is not a word that a recruiter searches for when looking for the right person to manage a company’s expansion into a new market.
- “Globalization” and “localization” are meaningless to hiring tools. Recruiters use content parsing technology to search for keywords, but “globalization,” “internationalization,” and “terminology management” don’t appear in their list of search terms. Try a job search for localization and translation – you’re more likely to come up with hits for the medical, pharma, and surgical trades.
- Corporate HR rarely provides job titles for the language industry. To complicate things further, most large enterprises use a job-naming taxonomy to help with salary planning, worker responsibilities, and other aspects of human resource management. These naming structures and job descriptions rarely have a section for localization. Instead, employees are limited to titles endorsed by HR, such as Program Manager III along with an explanation in their own words of what they do; for example, “I look after the globalization of our website.”
- Career stagnation? Blame part of this on job titles that do not clearly define talent that is valuable in more places than a high-tech enterprise’s localization team.
- Reinventing the wheel. Companies new to global business do not hire the experts they need; they do not know how to find them. They recreate, albeit with new code and processes, the internationalization issues that enterprises in Silicon Valley thought were fixed in the 1990’s. The gaming business is a good example; people still translate using spreadsheets. But what if a game producer or app designer knew to hire a globalization expert from day one? How much easier would it be to grow a global market?
It’s Time for a Change
Is there a solution? Yes. Emphasize your skills, rather than a title, through neutral terminology. Are you an expert, international project manager able to juggle many tasks and timelines? Are you a global brand manager who’s talented at conveying nuanced customer experiences worldwide? A product manager highly qualified in bringing products and programs to new and expanding markets? A technical expert, quality engineer, or process optimizer? An expert in the global content supply chain? Or even an industrial diplomat, a courageous and tactful manager-of-change?
If localization experts start to apply descriptions and titles that convey a real sense of the value that their skills and expertise represent the opportunities for career progression could be huge. Then one day, there might really be position for a Chief Globalization Officer in every business, but perhaps with a different name. Chief Global Business Officer, anyone?
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