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Why agencies would rather post job offers than search for the right translators?
Thread poster: Mark Xiang

Mark Xiang
Local time: 14:10
English to Chinese
+ ...
Dec 15, 2005

One of the main features of this site is that the database of the service providers is open to public. So it is very easy for a job provider to find the right translator for its specific project according to its screening criteria. I am sure the job load of the screening process is no more than that of reading and choosing from the numerous pouring-in biddings. In my opinion, job provider chooses to advertise for biddings because:
1. It is an urgent job. They want to get in contact with the right person in the shortest time. In this case, time schedule is the foremost factor. Quality is desired but may be compromised.
2. Cost is decisive factor for the job. The purpose of inviting for bidding is to find the lowest rate. Quality does not matter much.
3. Budget for the job is limited. Top quality is not expected with the allocated cash. The purpose of request for biddings is to find the translator who can renders reasonale quality with acceptable rate.
4. The outsourcer wants to build its own database or enrich it existing one.

I never succeeded in geting a job offer through bidding except one small job with the amount of just a little over USD100.00 for an urgent project. So I seldom bid on the postings now. I do not want to become a piece of discount goods in a second hand store. ^_^

What is your opinion?


[Edited at 2005-12-15 09:59]

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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:10
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
similar experience Dec 15, 2005

In general, I agree with you: jobs available through bidding tend to pay less that those offered through direct contact.

But this is not necessarily the case. Right now, for example, I am involved in a quite large project that I bid for a few weeks ago, and the rate I quoted was actually a bit higher than my regular rate - and still, the outsourcer picked me (out of 6 or 7 bidders).

Over the past few years I developed a habit of bidding only for jobs that exceed a certain volume, say, 20,000 words. In the case of large jobs, outsourcers are not so much pressed by time, and they are more likely to pay for quality.

Well, another factor is that most of the jobs I get through come from clients that contact me directly. I have never counted, but I think the ratio of jobs through direct contacts to jobs through bidding is at least 3:1.


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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:10
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Language Combination determines Dec 15, 2005

The chances of getting a bid, in my opinion, are highly dependent on the language combination. Common pairs, such as French or Spanish to English, are so competitive that the offers for bid are mainly to get a low price, and it works, apparently.

On the other hand, rarer languages or unusual combinations are often put to bid because the agency does not have anyone on their books. The odds of getting those jobs at reasonable rates are sometimes decent, especially if time is a factor.

What I have never understood is why don't agencies "help" each other by recommending good translators? Do they?

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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:10
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Outsourcer "BookmarkZ" Dec 15, 2005

I posted a solution to this when I originally suggested the introduction of the availability indicator back in April 2004.

Here is the link:

Text from April 2004:
"I apologize if this has been discussed before, but I had a suggestion regarding a new feature for the job system.

1) Incorporate some kind of system that would allow Platinum members to display that they are currently available for work (everyday when they log-on to ??)

2) An outsourcer posts a job (Italian to English for example) and receives 100 bids. They find 20 of the translators acceptable, but only require one translator for this particular job. However, they have the option (checkbox??) to place the other translators into a “preferred translators” file.

3) Two months later, this same outsourcer again finds a need for an Italian to English translator and posts the job on However, this time, as soon as they enter the language pair, they are informed that 4 out of the 20 translators they have already approved are currently available for work (according to the availability indicator) and the outsourcer is asked if they would they like to contact these translators first (automatically through mail) before placing the job on the system.

4) Of course, outsourcers could also place translators into their “preferred translators” list via a translator’s profile page.

5) Outsourcers lists would be private, but translators would have the option to see which outsourcers have “bookmarked” them as well as the option to delete themselves from an outsourcers list of “favorites” if so desired.

6) This has the additional advantage that translators would have to log into at least once a day in order to indicate their availability and even if you are not selected for a particular job, you have not wasted your time because you may be contacted for a future job."

[Edited at 2005-12-15 07:21]

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Piotr W.  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:10
English to Polish
+ ...
Probably - money, money, money... Dec 15, 2005

I have not get any job through bidding, either... Thus, I became quite sarcastic and refrain from the tempation to bid. My prices were in some case high (job seemed complicated) and sometimes very low (for a Polish outsourcer). They could not get any lower, so if there is someone who offers maybe null prices (or like to work for little) - I just do not like to participate in such "highly competitive market". Apolgies to anyone who feels ofended by my sarcastic opinion.

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Italian to English
+ ...
If I understand correctly.... Dec 15, 2005

If I understand your question correctly, here are a few reasons why it is more practical to post:

IF a company depended on just searching for translators, it would take them much more time, sifting through the hundreds of possibilites that exist in many pairs/specialties. Without knowing any of these individuals, it's hard to say who could be considered 'right' for the job amongst them all.

Then there's the fact that a translator's contact info is outdated. If the company has designated 2-3 translators as 'right' for the job, but none of them respond, then that's more work for the company.

I'm sure it would be annoying to the company as well if the 2-3 or even 5 profiles selected at random all _were_ responsive to an inquiry but are all busy...... I don't think everyone uses the available/not available toggle, especially non-platinum people that must log in every day to change it.

It is easier for a company to publish the nature of the work, the requirements and deadlines, and then accept quotes from those who are available, contactable, and experienced. There is still a selection process on the part of the company, but it is guaranteed to have better results than blind searches.

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Yolande Haneder  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:10
German to French
+ ...
Probably for me a matter of time Dec 15, 2005

Maybe the job is not so urgent but I will only get the rest of peace once the job is sent to the translator.

When I ask for bid I have the possibility of asking the translators to do a test translation, for some kind of jobs it is worth much more than a profile.

When I am picking translators, I may have the chance that he/she answers sometimes. Answers are rather not immediate.

I am not going to send an offer to 100 translators at once, to me it is the same as aking for a bidding, except that you are also sending mails to the ones that would probably not correspond to the job.

To make things short:
I go through the directory. If I am sure to find the perfect translator there and I have time, I will contact him.
Should there be too many or not enough translators being obviously corresponding to the job, i am asking for bidding.
When the language does not have many translators, I ask for bidding.

I think it is a matter of convenience. When you have to translate the job in several languages, it is much easier to ask for bid that contact individually for each language pair the available translators.

In my view, it is not a matter of price and I am glad that some expensive translators also contact me upon a bid.

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