Monday, February 1, 2010

French to English: Business Letters, Part 3


Have you ever requested a recommendation letter from a past employer, co-worker or family friend only to wait days and days for it?  You're imagining how your prospective employer is interpreting this delay.

Is she unable to get a recommendation letter because none of her previous employers thought she was a good employee?

Want advice?  Make life easier for the people you request recommendation letters from.  Suggest that you write the letter yourself and send it to them for editing.  calling for recommendation

Here is what Joyce Lain Kennedy and Alain Dumesnil say in their book, Les lettres d'accompagnement (covering letters), published by Éditions Générales First, France, ISBN:  2-87691-652-5.  Their advice is written in three paragraphs; let's take one paragraph at a time.

First paragraph:

French:  Vous attendiez une réponse impatiemment et vous venez de recevoir un e-mail de votre employeur potentiel vous demandant de lui envoyer plusieurs lettres de recommendation.

English translation:  You've been waiting impatiently for a response and then you receive an e-mail from your potential employer requesting you to send him several letters of recommendation.

Second paragraph:

French:  Pas de panique - rédigez vous-même vos lettres de recommandation !  N'oubliez pas que les personnes susceptibles de vous recommander (anciens employeurs, professeurs, responsables d'associations ou de clubs) sont aussi débordées que vous.  Si elles sont prêtes à faire votre éloge, proposez-leur d'écrire un brouillon qu'elles n'auront plus qu'à peaufiner.

English translation:  Don't panic - write the letters of recommendation yourself!  Don't forget that the people who can recommend you (former employers, professors, association or club officials) are as busy as you are.  If they are willing to recommend you, offer to draft a letter so all they need to do is polish (or edit) it.

Third paragraph:

French:  Pour plus de commodité, identifiez le traitement de texte utilisé par chacune de vos références et saisissez votre brouillon sous le même logiciel.  Envoyez votre letter par e-mail en fichier joint ou bien enregistrez-la sur une disquette que vous acheminerez par La Poste ou remettrez en main propre avec une version paper.

English translation:  So it's more convenient, find out what word processor each of your contacts uses and type the draft using the same software.  E-mail your contacts with the letter attached, or save it on a CD which you will send by mail or submit a hard copy personally.

That's good advice.  If someone were to ask you for a letter of recommendation, and you're not exactly a letter-writer, you'd be ill at ease.  It's not because you don't think highly of the person's skills or experience, but the thought of writing a letter - something that takes you hours, even days - is an encroachment on your time.

But if the same person requesting a recommendation offers to write it herself, you'd be more open to the idea!

Let's face it:  not many people are comfortable writing letters.  The words don't come that easily.  I even heard of one case where a person was requested and it took him three weeks to produce one, because he agonised over what to say and how to say it.

These days, this is no longer a problem.  There are two solutions:  the first one is to search the Net for an example of a letter of recommendation, and the second solution is to ask the person requesting a recommendation to write it himself.  If you agree with what's written, all what's left is for you to sign it.

Just for fun, I googled "examples of recommendation letters", and I got over 9.2 million results.  Assuming half of those are bogus or poor quality sites, your chances of finding the perfect letter that you can tweak are still very good.

So you see, you have no excuse.  Do a good deed and write that letter pronto! 

Your bonus lesson:  some French phrases to avoid, how to say them better, and their English translations:

Don't say Say English
année académique année scolaire school year
engager du personnel additionnel engager du personnel supplémentaire, complémentaire hire additional staff
l'agenda de la réunion l'ordre du jour de la réunion meeting agenda
code régional indicatif régional area code
compléter un formulaire remplir un formulaire fill out a form
nom corporatif nom de société, raison sociale corporate name, head office
paie de vacances indemnité de congé vacation pay
plan d'assurance régime d'assurance insurance plan
faire du surtemps faire des heures supplémentaires do overtime
tentativement à titre d'essai; provisoirement tentatively

No comments:

Post a Comment