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References I cannot ask for or show to anyone - what to do?
Thread poster: Aleksandr Okunev
Aleksandr Okunev
Local time: 12:59
English to Russian
Oct 1, 2005

Hi everyone.

This year I have done several interpreting assignments in various places. All these are for big businesses, everything went well and my clients were happy but the trouble is that in many cases the mere fact of their arrival to one country or another, let alone mentioning the names of the opposite party of the negotiations is a commercial secret.

You can imagine how I want to get a favourable letter of recommendation from a guy you read about in Financial Times. I have not asked them for one, because I cannot suggest a workaround.

Would you advise anything to me?

TIA

Stay well
Aleksandr

[Edited at 2005-10-01 20:26]


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:59
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Wait for others Oct 1, 2005

Aleksandr Okunev wrote:

Hi everyone.

This year I have done several interpreting assignments in various places. All these are for big businesses, everything went well and my clients were happy but the trouble is that in many cases the mere fact of their arrival to one country or another, let alone mentioning the names of the opposite party of the negotiations is a commercial secret.

You can imagine how I want to get a favourable letter of recommendation from a guy you read about in Financial Times. I have not asked them for one, because I cannot suggest a workaround.

Would you advise anything to me?


I suppose you just can't use these jobs as references in the way you want. As you obviously realise, your good practices include keeping secrets secret. You write that the names of the countries and the opposite party are secret, but you didn't say that of the names of your direct clients.

Perhaps you could ask them for a letter that says that you have provided them with satisfactory interpreting services for so many days in such and such years and between languages A and B, but simply does not mention where or with whom the meetings occurred.

Another suggestion: wait until you can acquire one or two letters of recommendation from other clients where there is less secrecy, then if you add your own note (when presenting them) similar to the text you first posted, it will be more credible than if you don't also have those letters.

Oliver


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Aleksandr Okunev
Local time: 12:59
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
No names Oct 1, 2005

Oliver Walter wrote: Perhaps you could ask them for a letter that says that you have provided them with satisfactory interpreting services for so many days in such and such years and between languages A and B, but simply does not mention where or with whom the meetings occurred.


Thanks for the feedback, Oliver. Well, that is not going to work either. In many cases it's very easy to see the big name, check my profile, see my specialty fields, my home base and add 2 and 2 together.

Another suggestion: wait until you can acquire one or two letters of recommendation from other clients where there is less secrecy, then if you add your own note (when presenting them) similar to the text you first posted, it will be more credible than if you don't also have those letters.


Thanks again, well, actually I have enough of those, here it is the level I got fascinated and carried away by. I guess I will survive without these.

Have fun
and good reference letters
Aleksandr

P.S. Another thing that occurs to me is to ask for them when the secrets will have 'expired'. Would you say it's sensible?

[Edited at 2005-10-01 21:13]


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:59
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
It works both ways Oct 1, 2005

Hi Aleksandr,

It works both ways. I used to be a copywriter and had great references. When I reorientated my career I decided I wouldn't give references anymore. In the beginning I didn't have any references, so it was easy. Now that I've translated for five years - I'm not an interpreter - I don't regret my decision. Both agencies and direct clients seem to like my discretion. Being in business for five years somehow proves I'm a professional.

In the rare cases people did ask, I got away with "major IT publishing house", "leading German/British software developer" and the like.

Tons of people only visit one or two pages of my site and I might be losing a lot of clients, but those who look around and push the Contact button know I'm utterly discrete.

Regards,
Gerard


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Dr. Janos Annus  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 10:59
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Why not ask for permission? Oct 1, 2005

Even if the job is secret the fact that you worked for one or another company (w/o mentioning any partriculars, such as place, time, other party etc) may not be that secret. They may be willing to provide a reference letter, when you ask for. I would try. If they decline, then it is fine. Just a try does not cost a penny. In my case reference helped a few times to get a job.

Cheers,
Janos


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Dina Abdo  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 11:59
Member (2005)
Arabic
+ ...
You have several options ! Oct 2, 2005

I agree with all the suggestions above: Don't ask for a reference letter, ask if your client doesn't mind providing you one. You may also ask for them some time later, when the content of the conversation you interpreted doesn't need to remain confidential anymore.

Keeping the field you provided your services in blank is also acceptable. The letter may just mention that you worked as an interpreter for A as an interpreter from X to Z languages.

Another way is asking for the reference to be addressed by the company your client owns or works for. This way you'll get the benifit of having a heavy client (company in this case) name in your reference without listing WHO exactly you worked for. It may be understood as if you done some interpretation in a conference or in a company meeting or so on ... without listing persons names or titles.


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 10:59
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Keep it confidential Oct 2, 2005

Hi Aleksandr,

My opinion is that if you target the same caliber of customers - you should not provide this reference. It's enough to say 'interpreted for a major businesses in xx sector' or something to that effect.

It happened to me on two or three ocassions to be interviewed for prospective interpreting and asked a direct question 'have you been interpreting for similar clients and similar situations' (meaning e.g. a big acquisition)- my anwser always was 'yes, but I can't give you any details'. This answer was always appreciated, in fact the question itself was a kind of test! There are many ways to show you are competent for the job without talking about your previous assignments and ability to keep confidentiality is one of the key factors for business interpreters.

Magda


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Aleksandr Okunev
Local time: 12:59
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, folks, I'll do without those big name references. Oct 2, 2005

Thanks everyone for sharing your opinions and understanding my situation. I guess I'll just drop it, the temptation is still there, but there is no realistic way to use a good reference from a Big Guy. So why bother at all?

If I got you right, Gerard, I will follow your pattern (and has always done that) - the thing is one can not always translate for big shots, and it's really true, I do not work any worse for a small local business than I do for a big global company. I never understood why colleagues and agencies are so obsessed with putting all those big names on their 'clients' page, only them, the big ones, to me it is a manifestation of poor professionalism.

Dear Magda, I do not actually target such type of clients, it's a chain of coincedences, I partly can explain that because I used to be in business for a while and can translate not only from Russian into English but also from bureacrateze into a human language, which is often essential for the success of negotiations or a visit.

Thanks a lot, folks!
Happy translating,
Aleksandr

P.S. When I badly need a big name on the list of my clients I will mention Colgate - I remember I once translated a soap bar wrapper for a Russian mechanical engineer in a shop in Muzaffargarh.


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Aleksandr Okunev
Local time: 12:59
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
I am too lazy Oct 2, 2005

Thanks Dina and Janos,

The workarounds you suggest are feasible and worth while trying. However, I am way too lazy to go such great lengths, bother the busy people with the howtos and still leave room for a clever observer to make a conclusion potentially harmful to them.
As they say in cardiac drops instructions "The risks must not outweigh the benefits".

Once again, thanks everyone
and
Happy translating! (and interpreting)

Aleksandr
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>

[Edited at 2005-10-02 11:46]


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Levan Namoradze  Identity Verified
Georgia
Local time: 13:59
Member (2005)
English to Georgian
+ ...
Perhaps, we should say 'lazy' Oct 3, 2005

Aleksandr Okunev wrote:

Thanks Dina and Janos,

The workarounds you suggest are feasible and worth while trying. However, I am way too lazy to go such great lengths, bother the busy people with the howtos and still leave room for a clever observer to make a conclusion potentially harmful to them.
As they say in cardiac drops instructions "The risks must not outweigh the benefits".

Once again, thanks everyone
and
Happy translating! (and interpreting)

Aleksandr
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>

[Edited at 2005-10-02 11:46]


Dear Colleagues,

Perhaps, we should say the 'lazy'. I got same problems when being asked for references. It should be noted that I am mainly focused on translations in the legal and defense fields. Therefore, prior to commencing with a job, I always have to sign 'a confidentiality agreement'. And if I got Aleksandr Okunev right, I am also 'lazy' to bother those busy people. Pity, but I lost some prospect clients due to that reason.

Kind Regards,

Levan


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Tsu Dho Nimh
Local time: 02:59
English
Wait until the negotiations are public Oct 4, 2005

Aleksandr Okunev wrote:

This year I have done several interpreting assignments in various places. All these are for big businesses, everything went well and my clients were happy but the trouble is that in many cases the mere fact of their arrival to one country or another, let alone mentioning the names of the opposite party of the negotiations is a commercial secret.



This happens to me fairly often, as a writer. I wait until the top-secret product has been publically announced, then put it on the resume.

Until that date, it appears as: wrote Oracle database user manual, internal confidential project for Big Company.

If you were interpreting, ask the client for a letter of reference that will ONLY be used if the negotiations are publically announced.


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
References Policy Oct 8, 2005






[Edited at 2005-10-08 05:08]


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