It’s common in the translation field to come across projects that evince enormous intercultural differences, obliging the translator to come up with some sort of ingenious solution to the issue. On the one hand, translators can try to tweak the message of the text to render an appropriate final result, but this is usually frowned upon (for obvious reasons of fidelity). On the other hand, sometimes translators need to be frank and ask their client if they’re really sure they want to have that particular text translated.
Such is the case with translating certain resumes/CVs and letters of recommendation. These documents exhibit enormous differences from country to country, particularly within the US as compared with outside of it. From the information included to the manner in which information is presented, both clients and translators need to be careful with projects like these.
For example, it is common for CVs written outside of the US to include lots of sensitive personal information (such as date of birth, nationality, ID number, etc.), whereas in the US such information is usually not included. In fact, it is more common to use brief resumes instead of full length CVs in the US, and clients should keep that in mind when trying to get documents translated in order to seek employment in the US.
Letters of recommendation can be another problem area, as literal translations here can often be disastrous for the person that is supposedly being eulogized therein. Examples of letters of recommendation translated from Chinese into English show serious cultural disparities: what sounds like praise in Chinese culture might come across the wrong way in English. The areas of attention and the wording chosen can end up having the exact opposite effect of that intended, and so sometimes it is best to have the client obtain new letters of recommendation for translation in order to improve their chances of future employment.