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Thread poster: Claudia Alvis
Please provide 3 references

Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:12
Partial member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 11, 2007

I know some agencies require at least 2 or 3 references in order to consider a new translator in their database. I can understand their reasons to do this, they want to make sure they translator is reliable, a good professional, etc. But can agencies understand how annoying this is for translators?

When I provide a reference, it's usually because I'm really interested in working with that particular agency, and I use a client--usually a PM, as a reference only once, because I can imagine the last thing they want to do is go through their records so they can remember the kind of job I delivered, then have a 5-minute conversation about this with a complete stranger.

Today, two agencies asked me to submit my information and include 2 and 3 references respectively, that means I would have to bother 5 people I worked with in the past, so an agency might even consider me as a possible collaborator. So I said thanks, but no thanks.

Am I overreacting? Is this a bad move on my part? I'm curious about what other people think about providing and requiring references.


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:12
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Yes, and yes Jul 11, 2007


Claudia Alvis wrote:

Am I overreacting? Is this a bad move on my part?


I think that yes, you are overreacting, and, yes, this is not a good move on your part (if you are interested in working with your prospect, that is).

Bear in mind that you can indicate the same person as a reference more than once (provided they are OK with it, of course).

In the past I've been indicated as a reference by colleagues who worked for me, I've been happy to act as a reference, and I would not mind if I was given as a reference more than once by the same person.


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:12
Portuguese to English
+ ...
How about people you work with now? Jul 11, 2007


Claudia Alvis wrote:

Today, two agencies asked me to submit my information and include 2 and 3 references respectively, that means I would have to bother 5 people I worked with in the past, so an agency might even consider me as a possible collaborator. So I said thanks, but no thanks.



Almost every job on earth requires references, so why should it be any different for translators? In any case, why should you have to contact people you worked with in the past? Why not people you work with now?

Amy


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 04:12
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
References... and references Jul 11, 2007

Hi Claudia

There are two kinds of references you can provide:
1) References of persons for whom you have worked. This is arranged in advance - and you will disclose that person's name, country, and email for contact purposes.
2) References of agencies: some agencies agree (some others not even this!) that you say "I have worked for the agency XXX". But they won't give any information. So: in your CV, under those nice persons ready to give information, you will add a list of agencies for whom you have worked... just to mention them. Period.
An example of how your references could look (in this mock example, three "persons" and two "agencies with no contact person"):

- Juan Pérez - Maracaibo, Venezuela - juanp@ggg.com.ve
- Violeta Fariña - La Seu d'Urgell, Spain - vfari@ciao.com.es
- Nguyen Tian Thau - National University - Hanoi, Vietnam - ntthiau@v-v-v.vn
- TranslationsPresent - Nassau, Bahamas - www.translationspresent.com
- A B C Traduções - Setúbal, Portugal - www.a_b_c.pt

Good luck!

[Edited at 2007-07-11 19:37]

[Edited at 2007-07-11 19:40]


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Patrice  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:12
Member
French to English
+ ...
This is what WWA is for Jul 11, 2007

I always invite them to review the WWA comments I have received from some clients. That seems to work.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:12
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I agree with Riccardo Jul 11, 2007


Claudia Alvis wrote:
When I provide a reference, it's usually because I'm really interested in working with that particular agency, and I use a client--usually a PM, as a reference only once, because I can imagine the last thing they want to do is go through their records so they can remember the kind of job I delivered, then have a 5-minute conversation about this with a complete stranger.


When considering to provide a client's name as reference, ask that client's permission first. Then judge by their response whether they agree enthusiastically or unenthusiastically. If enthusiastically, give their names every time a reference is needed.

Odds are the client will be contacted when he's at his desk, when he has access to his records anyway. And if the client is an agency or a translation company, then it shouldn't take him more than a few seconds or so to refresh his memory about who you are.

When asked for references, I give the names of three agencies I regularly do work for. These clients know me by name. I don't give out personal contact details -- only the details that can be found on their web sites anyway.

Besides, if the client is busy, he should be able to say so.

[Edited at 2007-07-11 19:47]


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:12
Partial member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
One approach Jul 11, 2007

When an agency asks for references, I usually explain that I receive a half-dozen such requests per month and that it is not practical to constantly ask my regular customers to take time out to answer these inquiries. I explain that, as a result, I have made it my policy to provide references only for projects over 25,000 words.

Several agencies who require references have sent me work anyway, so I guess they understand the situation. If I've lost a project or two because of this, it hardly matters since I have a very steady stream of work.

[Edited at 2007-07-11 22:46]


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Andy Lemminger  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:12
Member (2002)
English to German

Moderator of this forum
Professionalism and Common Business Sense Jul 11, 2007


Amy Duncan wrote:
Almost every job on earth requires references, so why should it be any different for translators?


Because we are professionals and are not looking for employment.

What would a doctor say if you told him: "Well, before you are allowed to treat my eczema, please let me see your CV."

Or did you ever tell your lawyer to provide references with contact information so you can discuss his performance with former clients?

Why not?

First of all because no-one asks for this information and because none of these professionals would be desperate enough to agree. Translation providers often lack professionalism and that's why they are being treated differently. The fact that they don't even object makes things worse.
Secondly because their clients would be annoyed by this request and there are also confidentiality issues. Both these issues apply to us translators in the same way.
Thirdly don't forget that agencies also can be competitors. Why would I provide business leads to a competitor?

That's why I completely agree with Claudia.
My clients come first. Whatever could annoy them, and even if there's only the slightest chance that it might do so, is out of bounds for me.
Therefore I don't provide any references.

Andy

www.interlations.com

[Bearbeitet am 2007-07-11 23:46]


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Anne Patteet  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:12
English to French
+ ...
Agree with Claudia, Steven and Andy Jul 12, 2007

I really don't like to give my clients' name. When asked, I say that I'll gladly translate a short text (up to 200 words). Sometimes they send one, sometimes they don't.
Last week, this is what I received:
"Hello Anne,

We were referred to you by XXX. We would like to add you to our list of translators. Please let us know what fields you work in and provide us with three U.S. references.

Kind Regards,

YYY "
Why on earth would they need three U.S. references, if that other (U.S. by the way) agency referred me to them?

I just don't give names, and it's not that nobody is calling me because of that. Don't worry Claudia. Do as you feel.


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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:12
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
No References Jul 12, 2007

I agree with Andy. We are professionals and we must start acting like one. Of course, we provide quality service and that is why our clients return to us.

But should we concede to demands such as these? I don't think so.

Here are some situations where we are treated differently because we act differently.

Situation 1: Do you have a CV?

Situation 2: Provide 2/ 3 references.

Situation 3: Made to wait at reception on arrival.

Situation 4: In spite of being hired and being at the right place and right time: But you didn't do any work.

Now imagine the same with any professional such as a Doctor, a lawyer or a C.A (or even the proverbial plumber).

Do you think they don't have a C.V.?
They could produce one, if they were required to.

Do you think that they don't have other clients that they can provide as references?
Well... except for novices, I guess all of them have clients

Have you ever heard that someone asked one of these to wait at the reception?
Usually their clients wait for them. They don't wait for people. The only exceptions may be when they go in search for a full-time job. This changes their status to employees so they wait. We are professionals and independent contractors... when I go to meet someone, it's not because I am looking for an employment.

But you didn't do any work situation?
Oh, it happens. Recently I went to see a doctor, was made to wait for a long time and then all he had to do was write that I was in good health. But I paid him the same fees. He didn't reduce his fees just because he didn't do other parts of his job. Didn't even give me a prescription.

And anyways, doctors do not have to face as much competition as we have. This also implies that our clients are precious. So we can not afford to annoy them with things like this. Also, I know agencies that are looking for work from other agencies (happens a lot in India) and so even agencies are our competitors. And have you ever heard that one competitor provides such important information to other competitor?

I agree to do a 100-150 word test max. But no you won't get my clients' details from me (unless you are from Income Tax department)

Just my views.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:12
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I disagree with Andy Jul 12, 2007


Andy Lemminger wrote:
First of all because no-one asks for this information and because none of these professionals would be desperate enough to agree.


Want to sell your house? Not sure which estate agent to use? What do you do? Ask for references, of course!

Want to have a nose job? Not sure if the local parlour is really up to the task? What do you do? Ask for references (they might even be willing to tell you the names of some of their patients, whereas other doctors may only be willing to give names of colleagues).

There is nothing wrong with or strange about asking a doctor or a lawyer for references. Well, at least not in my country.


Secondly because their clients would be annoyed by this request and there are also confidentiality issues.


Confidentiality is only an issue if you're using a client as reference without his permission. I have asked several of mine if I could use them, and only one or two said "no". In other words, confidentiality with regard to the identity of your client (but not the details of the job) in those cases do not apply.


Why would I provide business leads to a competitor?


The name of a service provider is not a business lead. The name of a client or customer is.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:12
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I disagree with Ritu Jul 12, 2007


Ritu Bhanot wrote:
Now imagine the same with any professional such as a Doctor, a lawyer or a C.A (or even the proverbial plumber).

Do you think they don't have a C.V.?


The original question was about providing references, not about providing a CV. As it happens, having an abbreviated CV available is not a bad idea, but that issue is not related to whether one should refuse to provide references.

My CV does not contain references, although some do. But references need not be tied to a CV -- you can provide references without providing a CV.


Have you ever heard that someone asked one of these to wait at the reception? ... Usually their clients wait for them. They don't wait for people.


There is a very simple explanation for this. They charge per hour, whereas translators usually charge per word or per job. Interpreters do charge per hour, but the number of hours are usually agreed to in advance, therefore if an interpreter has to wait, he waits on the client's time (and bill), not his own.


Recently I went to see a doctor, was made to wait for a long time... He didn't reduce his fees just because he didn't do other parts of his job.


This too, is different from our job. Very few translators offer a walk-in-walk-out translation service. Doctors, on the other hand, usually work on that basis.

Still, I would regard it as unprofessional of a doctor to make me wait unless there is a good reason (and being disorganised is not a good reason). The doctor can afford to behave unprofessionally because he has no lack of clients.

Another big difference between the doctor and the translator is the doctor's clients are mostly the public, whereas the translator's clients are mostly businesses. If a doctor's clients are mostly other doctors (usually if he's a specialist) you can bet that he'll be a lot more professional (punctual, organised), unless he isn't really a private practitioner (if, for example, he gets paid by the government sponsored health service).


[Edited at 2007-07-12 08:02]


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Tuliparola  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:12
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
Texts speak for themselves Jul 12, 2007

I agree with Andy in terms of professionalism and confidentiality, though I think we should not compare ourselves with lawyers or doctors. Our work is much more similar to that of copywriters, technical writers and journalists.
Do they need clients in order to affirm that their texts were always satisfactory? Or do their texts speak for themselves?

Some potential clients are afraid that we don't meet the deadlines because they have had bad experiences. But even 3 excellent references are not an unshakeable guarantee.
Business life is full risks but we could provide further informations regarding our reliability and professionalism. A list of recent projects without client names, description of our quality assurance, pointing out that we undergo further training and so on.
It's also about HOW to sound expert.
This is just my view, but based on experiences.
Regards
Steffi


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:12
Member (2004)
Dutch to English
+ ...
I disagree with Samuel (on a particular point) Jul 12, 2007


Samuel Murray wrote:

There is nothing wrong with or strange about asking a doctor or a lawyer for references. Well, at least not in my country.



Given that you're speaking - I presume - about South Africa and given that I practised law there for over a decade, I can confirm from experience that it's almost unheard of to be asked to give references as a lawyer by a potental client. Simply doesn't happen in practice, client comes to you in most cases by word of mouth. You don't provide the reference, your reputation precedes you.

And as I still retain an interest in my firm there, I can further confirm the situation hasn't changed in that regard since I left.

In order for the firm/individual lawyers to be put on panels at banks, certain public service departments, etc it is common to go through a screening process but again we've never (to date) been asked to provide references from clients.

So, as a South African lawyer, I'd actually find that a very strange request.

I'd go as far as to agree it's not strange in SA for people to do their homework before going to a doctor, lawyer, etc and that will include asking around but to ask the professional directly to provide you - the potential client - with a reference is something we've certainly never experienced and wouldn't regard it as normal business practice either.

Not wishing to go off-topic too much, so I'll leave it at that.

[Edited at 2007-07-12 09:30]


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:12
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nuisance for your customers Jul 12, 2007

When I'm asked for specific references, I can't help picturing the people whose names I would quote sitting at their terminals looking at an e-mail from some bod asking about my past translation work, or this "reference" of mine picking up the phone to find Joe Blow asking about my past work.

Nobody can be bothered to confirm references. It gives them 0 benefit, and can also be counterproductive. After all, if they give a glowing report on my work, they might ring me a little later with a job, and I might have to say sorry, no, I'm busy. Then they will maybe sit there wondering whether I'm suddenly unavailable because THEY gave me a good reference.

So I avoid this if I can.

Mervyn


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