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Why some US agencies require recommendation letters?
Thread poster: lbone

lbone  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 02:44
English to Chinese
+ ...
Feb 4, 2007

I am deeply impressed by the requirement of some agencies for "three recommendation letters" from people I "worked with". It seems most of such requirements come from US agencies and a significant part of US agencies have such requirements.

Freelance translators are resources for agencies, and agencies and final clients are resources for freelance translators. So freelance translators are the resources to be competed on between agencies. How can they expect a competitor scoring high on me to recommend me? And how can they expect this to happen for three times?

[Edited at 2007-02-04 06:27]


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:44
French to English
+ ...
You are right Feb 4, 2007

Hi,

Your points are well taken.

Moreover - and this is just my point of view - recommendation letters are appropriate when being considered for a permanent salaried position.

Too often, translators seem to forget that they are businesses and service providers and that it is terribly inappropriate to be asked for recommendation letters.

Would another professional service provider accept to share client list, confidential information, and provide recommendation letters?

Don't think so....

Patricia


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kevin23
Local time: 02:44
English to Chinese
+ ...
Waiting for a reply from the experienced Feb 4, 2007

It's also the problem I find it difficult to handle. I don't think the companies we are cooperating will give a satisfactory recommendation. Perhaps in the United States and other Uropean countries, recommedation letters from the companies are common, but it is different in China.

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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 05:44
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Totally inappropriate Feb 4, 2007

I agree with Patricia in that it is totally inappropriate for agencies to ask for even one letter of recommendation, let alone three. I think the agencies that do this are hoping that you're going to supply contact details for direct clients rather than for other competing agencies and by doing so, they'll then be able to increase their client base by nabbing your direct clients!

The proof of the pudding really is in the eating and if an agency is seriously interested in working with you, they can ask for a short sample test to be completed. It's up to you whether that goes paid or unpaid. If I was going to pay someone to work for me, then I would want to see an actual sample of the quality they could deliver rather than going on the word of a third party.

My advice is to ignore agencies who ask for recommendations.


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 01:44
English to Indonesian
+ ...
References Feb 4, 2007

lbone wrote:

I am deeply impressed by the requirement of some agencies for "three recommendation letters" from people I "worked with". It seems most of such requirements come from US agencies and a significant part of US agencies have such requirements.

How can they expect a competitor scoring high on me to recommend me?

[Edited at 2007-02-04 06:27]


Hi lbone,

I have worked with agencies in the US and the UK. None of them asked me to send recommendation letters. Nevertheless, some of them do ask me to send them at least three references before offering a job. The references that I send them are all agencies, no direct client. So far, it has worked pretty well.

P.S.: I am not sure the difference between references and recommendation letters. So far, there is no agency that asks me to send them recommendation letters. Any explanation would be really appreciated.


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Diana Wright  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:44
Romanian to English
+ ...
Nabbing your direct clients ... Feb 4, 2007

Chinese Concept wrote:

I think the agencies that do this are hoping that you're going to supply contact details for direct clients rather than for other competing agencies and by doing so, they'll then be able to increase their client base by nabbing your direct clients!



I think this is definitely what they're up to. I got approached by an agency who did not only ask for three references (I don't know why it's always three, never two or four?!), but made sure I understood that AT LEAST one of them should be from an end client!

I wonder if anybody actually carries on with that agency's registration process, because that definitely put me off. After I've worked so hard to build up a client database, I'm not going to hand it over on a plate to some agency who are then going to outsource work from these clients (to me - if I'm lucky - or to another translator) for a fraction of the price.

It would be interesting to hear how these agencies justify such a request. I personally share the view that a test translation (preferably a paid one) or, better, a first very short job would be a more professional approach.

Diana


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lbone  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 02:44
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I guess that's "referrence letter" Feb 4, 2007

Hipyan Nopri wrote:

lbone wrote:

I am deeply impressed by the requirement of some agencies for "three recommendation letters" from people I "worked with". It seems most of such requirements come from US agencies and a significant part of US agencies have such requirements.

How can they expect a competitor scoring high on me to recommend me?

[Edited at 2007-02-04 06:27]


Hi lbone,

I have worked with agencies in the US and the UK. None of them asked me to send recommendation letters. Nevertheless, some of them do ask me to send them at least three references before offering a job. The references that I send them are all agencies, no direct client. So far, it has worked pretty well.

P.S.: I am not sure the difference between references and recommendation letters. So far, there is no agency that asks me to send them recommendation letters. Any explanation would be really appreciated.


So are there any differences between a referrence letter and a recommendation letter?

It makes me embarrased to request current or past agencies to write referrence letters for me.

[Edited at 2007-02-04 15:01]


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 01:44
English to Indonesian
+ ...
A Different Experience Feb 4, 2007

lbone wrote:

Hipyan Nopri wrote:

lbone wrote:

I am deeply impressed by the requirement of some agencies for "three recommendation letters" from people I "worked with". It seems most of such requirements come from US agencies and a significant part of US agencies have such requirements.

How can they expect a competitor scoring high on me to recommend me?

[Edited at 2007-02-04 06:27]


Hi lbone,

I have worked with agencies in the US and the UK. None of them asked me to send recommendation letters. Nevertheless, some of them do ask me to send them at least three references before offering a job. The references that I send them are all agencies, no direct client. So far, it has worked pretty well.

P.S.: I am not sure the difference between references and recommendation letters. So far, there is no agency that asks me to send them recommendation letters. Any explanation would be really appreciated.


So are there any differences between a referrence letter and a recommendation letter?

It makes me embarrased to request current or past agencies to write referrence letters for me.

[Edited at 2007-02-04 15:01]


Hi lbone,

My experience seems to be rather different. What the agencies mean by a reference is just a PM's name and his/her contact details. They never ask me to send them non-agency (direct client) reference.

Indeed, during a negotiation before accepting a job I always state that I shall use the PM's contact details as my reference should a potential client ask for my reference in the future.


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Els Spin  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:44
Dutch to English
+ ...
Some things are confidential! Feb 4, 2007

I 'am' an agency as well as a freelance translator, and I have never asked or been asked to send references or recommendation letters. But I am afraid that I can't be sure how I would react to such a request if I really wanted the job. Out of principle, I am dead against free test translations. But, I admit, I have done one for an agency that is now sending me jobs on a daily basis. So there you go.

But it is included in my own contracts and the ones that I have received from other agencies, that nothing may be revealed about the agency, its clients or the contents of the work. So I don't expect my name or any client's name to crop up in any translator's application, and I am contractually bound by other agencies not to do so either.

So if someone would ask me for recommendation letters or references that would clearly reveal any of the above, I would probably - quite professionally - refer to my agreements of confidentiality.
And then add that, for assessment purposed, I would be very happy to accept a small first job instead.

Does this help?

Regards,
Els

[Edited at 2007-02-04 16:20]

[Edited at 2007-02-04 16:25]


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:44
French to English
+ ...
A different viewpoint Feb 4, 2007

I work with both agency clients and end clients. The latter are usually referred to as "direct clients", but in my book, agencies, companies and individuals are all my clients and deserve the same TLC.

And the same confidentiality.

If, in order to be referenced in Translation Agency X's database, I have to name 3 client (agency or other) references, I will not sign up. Agencies compete with one another. Their roster of preferred translators (as well as clients) is what makes their business work. There is, in my mind, direct conflict of interest here.

If, however, some sort of validation (other than a test, which is another issue altogether) of the quality of work is required to land a real, existing, current project, then either:
a) I will refer the client to translations that are now in the public domain
b) seek approval from past clients to show a "cleaned up" translation (that hides who the client is)

Would a lawyer say " sure, call up So and So, I did a great divorce for him/her"? or "Here, some law firms that are not specialized in this particular kind of law outsource me their work - call 'em!"????

My two cents...

Patricia


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 13:44
English to Russian
+ ...
My way Feb 4, 2007

Since I work for agencies only plus for the same few for ages, which are large enough not to be afraid to disclose their very existence, we have a clear agreement - if required for occasional stray jobs, I am allowed to provide agency and PM names/phone numbers. In the event of an actual phone call they would confirm that I was good in the required fields for the last X years working numerous projects for major international clients:-). If this is not enough - sorry, can't and won't do any more.

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