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Best way to communicate with agency
Thread poster: Laura Morwood

Laura Morwood  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:54
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Jul 2, 2008

I have recently been put on the list of 3 agencies, after passing a test translation. I am really pleased, but am confused as to what to expect next. I've done 1 job for the agency in China and it all worked well. The agency in the USA sent me an email with job offer, to which I responded immediately through Outlook. Only to get an email back the next day which said the job had been assigned already!

Am I right in thinking they send out a blanket email to their database for a language pair?
Is there any way I can react quicker, maybe with MSN messenger?
Is the time difference important, i.e. do I need to check email in the middle of the night?

Exactly the same happened with an agency in Holland the next day. Too late again.

It's all very well being on their list, but it does need to result in work at some stage!

Last question, I can't work out MSN messenger. Is there a website for dummies out there to read up on modern day communication. Could also do with some info on transferring files, zipping, sarring and whatever else is out there.

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- Carolina  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
Don't lose hope Jul 2, 2008

Dear Laura,

I can't provide you with a good answer I guess... I can only tell you that the same happened to me many times in the past. So I'll tell you what worked for me: just keep on trying, don't lose hope. Eventually, you will start receiving good projects to translate.


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:54
Project requirements Jul 2, 2008

Depends on the project - for example, I work a lot with certain government bodies. If we don't accept the project within 20 mins - 2hours, we don't get the job and it goes to some one else. So we have to get it assigned asap to people we know are going to able to say yes or no straight away.

Other clients can be a bit more laid back and they don't need a response from the translator for a couple of hours. It is great that you are meeting these agencies' vendor requirements, but you can't rely on only three agencies to provide you with enough work unfortunately.
Obviously nobody would expect you to be online all the time, but I guess clients would have your phone number if it is really important. Also, some PMs will have their own "favourites" and they're going to offer jobs to them first. You just have to get friendly with a PM with lots of Dutch work for you

Not all companies use MSN messenger because of potential security issues. I would recommend installing Skype (it is free from, don't worry! If you just plug in a microphone, you can phone other Skype users for free) It looks a bit more professional than MSN.

[Edited at 2008-07-02 21:51]

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:54
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Better look for agencies in your time zone Jul 3, 2008

No use to stay up all night, probably you would have missed the assignments anyway.
On the one hand there is advantage working with people in very different time zones. Mostly jobs come up at the end of working day, when the endclient remembers, oh I need this translated for tomorrow!
Then the agency, for instance in North-America, can contact you in Europe, send the files and you find them in your mailbox when you wake up, translate them, send them back and the customer will get them when s/he arrives at the office. All fine.
But if you need feedback or need to discuss things with your agency, it doesn't work, because either of your will be sleeping. No problem with big projects, that run over days and weeks, though.
So I would suggest you build up a base of customers in your time-zone and only occasionally work with customers far away.

Agencies start to address this problem by working together globally. A few days ago I got a phone call when I was sitting watching evening tv-show. The person only asked for my email address. I didn't ask any details. When I went to bed no mail had arrived.
In the morning after breakfast I found his mails, it was a rush job, wanting me to translate 1500 words immediately. No details about his business. In fact he was still in the office when I responded, but then referred me to his partner in Belgium.
Well, it was 3 p.m. when I got the PO from there. I send him the translation at 9 p.m. and hoped for the best. It was after all a well-known agency, but without the Belgian partner I would not have got the PO in time.


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:54
Partial member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Avoid an old agency that starts to act wierdly Jul 3, 2008

I will tell about my experience.
An old agency which I have contects for over 4 years did not pay me recently by saying that my 2 latest translations were bad. I summarize its wierd behavior as follows:
1. It started to save budget irrationally e.g. never pay for 100% match + repetition in TMs: This can automatically create wrong translation due to different in contexts and the translator will not review (also prohibited to review).
2. It started to use CAT without sufficient knowledge e.g. use of MultiTerm for segments termbase, not word termbase.
3. It started to hire many new translators, requested for their test translations, and told me to review the tests.
4. It started to reply to my mails very slowly e.g. 2-3 days later.
5. It started to use a new project manager.
6. It cannot understand my target languages of translation.
7. It started to change from a friendly contact to an ill-comprehension contact.
This agency insisted not to pay me even after many of my explanations and lectures on how it was judging wrongly.
It is not logical: why it accepted many of my translations for many years without claims? I am professional enough to improve, not downgrade, subsequent translation quality.

Soonthon L.

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Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:54
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
Smaller agencies Jul 3, 2008

I would recommend you to sign up with smaller agencies. Many large agencies make their translator "compete" for the jobs and that is just a number game.

I have a few smaller clients and when they send out job offers, they ask one translator and only if the first one can't do it, they then ask the next. That is a much nicer way of doing things, I believe.

In my experience the smaller agencies also pay better.

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Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Dutch to German
+ ...
The better they know you... Jul 3, 2008

Laura Morwood wrote:

The agency in the USA sent me an email with job offer, to which I responded immediately through Outlook. Only to get an email back the next day which said the job had been assigned already!

When I got my translation diploma years ago, I got into my car and just visited a couple of agencies personally, handing out my CV. Many of them still belong to my client base. And when there is a more personal contact, the way of approaching you for a job will be a different one. They will know what to expect from you, exchange a personal word with you from time to time, and they will probably know by then that you had to be busy with your kids (for example) and could not respond within 1 minute. At least that is my experience.

I also started drawing some of my clients' attention to my availability calendar on, telling them "if you see green, consider it done". This also helped.

Maybe just start looking around for clients in your area or in your Dutch home town next time you are there.

And yes, Skype seems to be the choice in many agencies. If, however, you need or want to use other "buddy clients", you might want to look for a solution that combines multiple systems.

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