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Asking agency for references?
Thread poster: xxxtr.
xxxtr.
Local time: 13:52
English to Italian
Jul 29, 2004

This is a question that has probably been asked already, so apologies if it sounds so unoriginal

Question is: if I'm working for agency x, and prospective client agency y asks me for names and contacts for references, is it ok if I ask the project managers I worked with at agency x if they are willing to be available as reference, to be contacted by agency y if needed? Or is it a no-no? Is it bad form, even when you're on very friendly terms with agency x?

I should also add, I already have reference letters signed by direct clients and with their contact details.
I thought it could be nice to have an agency person be available as reference too. I would understand if they didn't want to, it's just, I'm reluctant to ask them at all. With direct clients it's more natural...

What do you think? Would you ask anyway, or is it better to stick to direct clients only as reference contacts?

Thanks in advance for any opinions and suggestions.


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Annamaria Leone  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 12:52
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
My recent experience Jul 29, 2004

Hello.
Recently I asked for references to the PM of an agency with whom I'm working regularly. She told me she was happy to give references but that she had to ask to the boss. It sounded strange for me. After a day, she told me that it was ok to give references for me, but that I had to indicate the mail of their boss and not her own.
It sounds strange since I've never worked with her boss.
After this episode, I also thought that perhpas is better to not ask... however I'm not going to include this agency in my references. Perhaps their behaviour is just normal, but this is the first time that a person who had to give me refences has to ask to the boss! Perhaps this depends on the fact that all the people who gave me refences know me personally (not only by email/phone) or perhaps I had to wait more before asking for references...
I don't know... and I don't know what tosuggest, but I'm really interested in answers.
Good luck

Annamaria


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Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 05:52
Member (2002)
English to German
No references Jul 29, 2004

Hi there,

I never give out any references at all because of several reasons:

- Potential customers can verify my experience by looking at my education, former projects, experience and other details on my resume. If that's not enough they can also have translation samples.
- My task is to make my current customers happy. Why should I bother them with reference requests? They might provide a reference but there is not a single advantage for them doing so. Instead they have to spend time for preparing it and I am sure that they have many better things to do. Imagine a PM working at an agency with many translators asking him for references every time a new project comes up... Since I am working for my clients and they are not working for me I don't ask them to do it.
- Sometimes a reference request might just be a way to contact customers of other translators and try to convince them of choosing a new provider. Therefore it is even more dangerous to provide references of direct clients.

Some months ago I had a lengthy discussion with a potential customer. They wanted to work with me but insisted on a reference. I declined. They even came back later for another project and again asked me to provide a reference but I declined again.

For me it is more important to keep current customers happy than securing new ones.

Have a nice day.

Andy


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:52
German to English
+ ...
References and samples Jul 29, 2004

Think "business" and not "employee". In this context, that means think "reference project" and not "personal reference".

The best reference you can give someone is a URL pointing to a translation of yours and that bears your name as the translator. If you do a translation for publication, particularly on the 'net, ask your customer if they are willing to put your name to it. I think this is far more valuable and useful than the contact details of an existing customer.

If you already have references from end clients, I don't see any advantage in having further references from agency customers.

By no means all employees of any company are authorized to issue references, and project managers are not generally high up in the "corporate hierarchy", so it isn't really surprising that they can't necessarily make statements on behalf of the company. But there's nothing wrong with asking, IMO.

Marc


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Giacomo Camaiora  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:52
English to Italian
+ ...
My point of view Jul 29, 2004

I generally provide no more than the name or the wersite URL of the companies/agencies I worked with, or I'm working with, but I refuse to report any specific information such as address, telephone number, fax number or email, beacause private information cannot be released without the permission of the owner. It is forbidden bay law.

Moreover, who are we, children or professionals? isn't a CV good enough to justify our competences? do we really need a piece of paper signed by our parents to get jobs?

Giacomo


[Edited at 2004-07-29 21:06]


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diana bb  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 14:52
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Very true! Jul 29, 2004

Giacomo Camaiora wrote:



Moreover, who are we, children or professionals? isn\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'t a CV good enough to justify our competences? do we really need a piece of paper signed by our parents to get jobs?




[Edited at 2004-07-29 21:06]


So very well said. Couldn\\\'t agree more.

Diana


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xxxtr.
Local time: 13:52
English to Italian
TOPIC STARTER
thanks, Marc :) Jul 29, 2004

MarcPrior wrote:
Think "business" and not "employee". In this context, that means think "reference project" and not "personal reference".


Good point

The best reference you can give someone is a URL pointing to a translation of yours and that bears your name as the translator. If you do a translation for publication, particularly on the 'net, ask your customer if they are willing to put your name to it. I think this is far more valuable and useful than the contact details of an existing customer.


I know, and I totally agree. I've already got something like that too.

It's just, this time I've been specifically asked for contact details as well. I'm not too crazy about the idea myself, but I don't really mind either. As long as I'm sure the reference person wouldn't bother being contacted. That's why I wasn't too sure in this case, with an agency...

If you already have references from end clients, I don't see any advantage in having further references from agency customers.


Yep, I think I came round to this conclusion too...

By no means all employees of any company are authorized to issue references, and project managers are not generally high up in the "corporate hierarchy", so it isn't really surprising that they can't necessarily make statements on behalf of the company. But there's nothing wrong with asking, IMO.


Yes, but I think you're right, it would be probably useless and they may not be authorised. I hadn't really even considered that aspect. Also, even if they were authorised, it could be uncomfortable for the project manager. It would be an extra hassle for them too.

So I think I'll stick to your suggestions about using my existing references and providing samples.

Thanks for the advice, Marc, it really has been helpful in getting a clearer idea of how to go about it!

Cheers,

Monica


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xxxtr.
Local time: 13:52
English to Italian
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Annamaria! Jul 29, 2004

Annamaria Leone wrote:
Recently I asked for references to the PM of an agency with whom I'm working regularly. She told me she was happy to give references but that she had to ask to the boss. It sounded strange for me. After a day, she told me that it was ok to give references for me, but that I had to indicate the mail of their boss and not her own.
It sounds strange since I've never worked with her boss.
After this episode, I also thought that perhpas is better to not ask...


I completely understand. I think I'm inclined to just forget about it too now!

You're right, maybe it is just one episode but it confirms what Marc was saying about authorisation. I too would find it a bit odd to have to name as reference someone who I never worked with.

Thank you so much Annamaria, it is helpful to hear about personal and practical experiences.


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 13:52
English to German
+ ...
mention only project experiences Jul 29, 2004

Traweb wrote:

This is a question that has probably been asked already, so apologies if it sounds so unoriginal

Question is: if I'm working for agency x, and prospective client agency y asks me for names and contacts for references, is it ok if I ask the project managers I worked with at agency x if they are willing to be available as reference, to be contacted by agency y if needed? Or is it a no-no? Is it bad form, even when you're on very friendly terms with agency x?

I should also add, I already have reference letters signed by direct clients and with their contact details.
I thought it could be nice to have an agency person be available as reference too. I would understand if they didn't want to, it's just, I'm reluctant to ask them at all. With direct clients it's more natural...

What do you think? Would you ask anyway, or is it better to stick to direct clients only as reference contacts?

Thanks in advance for any opinions and suggestions.
Hi! it is infact a better solution, as it opens vision of the outsourcer, such that he is sure to know, he is talking to someone who is experienced, in that given field. I also do not react to agencys´ inquiries about the identity of my outsourcers. There is no point.
Rgds,
Brandis


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xxxtr.
Local time: 13:52
English to Italian
TOPIC STARTER
references Jul 29, 2004

Giacomo Camaiora wrote:

I generally provide no more than the name or the wersite URL of the companies/agencies I worked with, or I\'m working with, but I refuse to report any specific information such as address, telephone number, fax number or email, beacause private information cannot be released without the permission of the owner. It is forbidden bay law.


Giacomo, that\'s not what I meant, of course I wasn\'t talking of giving people\'s contacts as references without asking them and without their consent. I was talking of asking them first, if they\'d be available to act as reference contacts.

I was asking whether I should ask them at all, in the case of an agency as opposed to a direct client. Hope that\'s clearer

Moreover, who are we, children or professionals? isn\'t a CV good enough to justify our competences? do we really need a piece of paper signed by our parents to get jobs?


Ok... I really didn't mean to start a discussion on the practice of asking for references because I'm not the one asking for them.

But while we're at it, well, I don\'t see it like that really. I don\'t think it is such an insulting request. It can be annoying, because you have to pick the contact person and ask them and make sure they won\'t be bothered being contacted. And it should be unnecessary, because the clients can indeed view samples, past work, even tests. So it's one of those things I could do without. But I don\'t assume that someone asking for references is being *that* patronising. It's not to double-check FBI style on whether you're cheating, come on. You're only giving the references *you* want, not a list of all contacts of all people in your life. It's more of a way to get a general idea of what to expect, how you work, etc. - sometimes, it\'s good to hear that from a third party too.

Basically I\'m more used to this way of considering references, also within an academic environment:
http://www.career.vt.edu/JOBSEARC/Refguide.htm


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xxxtr.
Local time: 13:52
English to Italian
TOPIC STARTER
thanks... Jul 29, 2004

Andy Lemminger wrote:
For me it is more important to keep current customers happy than securing new ones.


Eh... ideally, if it's not too complicated, one might try to achieve both things, don't you think?

Thanks to you too Andy, I don't quite see it as strongly and I wouldn't probably refuse flat out to provide references, but I won't bother with the agencies and project managers.

Cheers,

Monica


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Lydia Smith
Local time: 12:52
French to English
+ ...
nothing wrong with it Aug 3, 2004

In my opinion there is nothing wrong with asking an agency to give a reference to another agency. I used to work as a PM in an agency and I used to ask for references on new translators and used to give references, quite happily, for good translators.
Choose an agency you have been working with for some time with whom you have a friendly relationship.
I agree with the reference project / business aspect but often one thing a PM really wants to know is "is this translator reliable, does he/she meet their deadlines?" (You would be surprised how many don't!) And that is something you cannot gauge from a sample translation, however wonderful it is.


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