Looking to break out of teaching and into another career in Spain? Tiffany cites thinking creatively and globally as the key to her success transitioning from an English teacher to a freelance translator and resume writer.
Name: Tiffany Hardy
City and Comunidad: Jaén, Andalusia
Job Title: Resume Writer & Spanish to English Translator
Why did you initially come to Spain?
I grew up in the US-Southwest and always had a desire to become fluent in Spanish. So, I decided that during my junior year of college I would do a semester abroad. In what was basically a coin toss between Argentina and Spain, I ended up here. That was 1997. I didn’t suspect that 18 years later I would still be here!
How did you transition into your current position?
It’s been a long road of self-discovery.
My first role in Spain was as a business English teacher with Vaughan Systems in Madrid, working with a lot of C-level executives from Global 500 companies. I learned so much about business during that time–knowledge that would greatly benefit me later in my career.
Eventually I was promoted to Director of Operations of the Andalusia branch of the company when it was in full expansion mode. That was my first taste of professional life outside of teaching. My main duties were recruitment, coordination of in-company classes, and corporate client-relationship management. It was a critical point in my career where I learned what running a business was all about.
I had the opportunity to pursue my passion–all things related to writing and the editorial process. I joined the European Commission office in Seville as an English language editor where I worked for several years.
At one point, a Spanish friend asked me for help with her resume, as many friends had done over the years, and a light bulb went on. I thought, hey, I’m good at this and I could get paid for it. With my business background and experience as a recruiter and editor, I decided I had found the right career for me. So I started looking into resume writing certification programs and got certified. Translation was supposed to be a way for me to survive while I was getting established as a resume writer, but I ended up really enjoying it and decided I would continue to do both. I do a lot of commercial translation work for some of Spain’s top companies, which gives me a lot of great business jargon that feeds into my resume-writing process and vice versa.
What was the interview process like?
As a freelancer, I never had to worry about the interview process. It’s more about how you present yourself on the web and how you approach potential clients and, most importantly your network. I started by telling anyone and everyone I had ever known in Spain what I was doing. That step was enough to secure much of my work alone. In addition, I contacted Spanish translation firms and sent out a killer email cover letter and resume and immediately had several agencies bite. I didn’t even have experience, but I was able to position myself so that they were willing to give me a chance. Most agencies asked me to do a test translation and when they saw what I could produce, they started sending me work. With resume writing, word-of-mouth and referrals are what bring clients to me. However, recently, I was asked to join BlueSteps, a US-based executive recruitment service, as an executive resume writer, as well as Great Resumes Fast, another US-based firm. Again, no interview process – in this industry, it’s your work that speaks for you, so it was enough to get the right people to see my best work.
How are you legally working in Spain?
Initially I had residency through marriage to my Spanish husband, Luis, but I have since become a Spanish national.
How does working in your field in Spain differ from your home country?
It doesn’t. I set my own schedule, which at the moment starts at 5:00 a.m. so I can be with my boys all afternoon. I can even move around geographically without a glitch. My clients are all over the world and my pay is set by the push and pull of the market and the demand for my services, and ultimately what I’m willing to accept.
What has been the hardest part of working or starting your own business in Spain?
It’s difficult starting out as a freelancer in Spain because you have to bite the bullet and pay the monthly social security fee to be able to issue an invoice. This can be painful. But, believe me, it is a great motivator to get moving and not waste a single second. Finding work as a freelancer is really a numbers game, provided there is a need for your services and the price is right. If you have a targeted message that reaches the right audience and resonates, you will eventually be given a chance.
Any advice for non-EU citizens seeking a job outside of teaching?
Think creatively and think globally. Consider an entrepreneurial endeavor that you can combine with teaching and then transition out of it as your business grows. And no matter what you do, nourish your network, not in self-interest but in the interest of friendship. My best clients and opportunities haven’t come from people I made a conscious effort to “network” with. They have come through real friends that I formed relationships with. And, while you are teaching, embrace it for what you can learn and the network (of friends) you can build, until a new door opens.
What are your plans for the future? Will you stay in Spain?
My plans are to continue to grow professionally in my field and stay abreast of what’s new so I can continue to provide value to my clients. I plan to look for ways to work smarter and faster so I can spend more time with my boys, Lou and Noah and my husband, Luis. We do have plans to eventually return to the US, but we’re not sure when that will be. But wherever I go, my job comes with me.
Interested in reading other profiles of ex-pats who have made the transition from Teacher to Trabajador? Check out past participant profiles here. Want to share your story? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org