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Attention to detail... how important is it really?
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:03
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Aug 19, 2008

G'day everyone

Do you think I should worry about inattention to detail in a translator's résumé?

I'm cooperating with another translator on a certain project in which we're trying to find a reviewer in a certain language. She (the other translator) forwarded this guy's résumé to me saying that someone recommended him to her. The résumé has horrible unidiomatic English in it, but I deliberately didn't let that bother me because I wasn't looking for an English speaker anyway. But the résumé showed such inattention to detail that I rejected the guy within half a page. My colleague says she sees nothing wrong with his résumé.

Here are some of the items that bother me... let me know if you think I'm being too particular (or worse, pedantic) about it.

1. He begins each paragraph with a title, in bold, underlined, followed by a colon. I have nothing against this, but he sometimes underlines the colon and sometimes not, and the colon is sometimes in bold and sometimes not.

2. He lists his subject fields, in paragraph style, as a list separated by commas. I have nothing against this, but it seems that he had accidently typed a fullstop instead of a comma at one place, and since the word following that fullstop has a capital letter, it occurs to me that he probably has auto-capitalisation enabled in his word processor, and it doesn't bother him.

3. One of the items in the résumé is "Certified: yes" but there is no indication where, for what, or by whom he has been certified.

4. One of the items in the résumé is "Credited: yes" but again, there is no mention of how or in what way he is or has been credited.

5. He says that he has a university degree in English, but makes no mention of which university, in what year, or what the exact title of the degree is.

6. One of his paragraphs do not start with a bold, underlined title, but there is a title, and there is a colon. So, he simply forgot to add underline and bold style to this particular paragraph title. Without the bold and underline it looks as if the paragraph is a subsection of the previous paragraph.

7. I'm a little concerned about his use of capitalisation. He writes "hospital" with a capital letter but "ministry of health" in lowercase. Okay, I'm not going to penalise him on this specifically -- after all, in my own language we also write names of government departments in lowercase.

8. He calls himself specialised but he doesn't say what he is specialised in.

9. He lists a number of professional organisations and translator web sites (such as ProZ.com) where he is a member, but provides no membership numbers or user names.

10. His résumé is 9 pages long. Two pages are devoted to an explanation of why DTP is difficult work, and three pages contain testimonials from people who are not identified.

Out of these ten items, which of them are invalid concerns, would you say?


[Edited at 2008-08-19 14:44]


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xxxPRen
Canada
Local time: 03:03
French to English
+ ...
None Aug 19, 2008

None. They are all valid concerns. I'd send it directly to File 13. It shows such a lack of care, you could readily assume he'd show the same attention to a translation. Nine pages long? And I'd have some serious concerns regarding the other translator who sees nothing wrong....

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Mirella Soffio  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:03
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
I would never hire him as a reviewer! Aug 19, 2008

What's the use of a reviewer who doesn't care about details and consistency?

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:03
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, but... Aug 19, 2008

Mirella Soffio wrote:
What's the use of a reviewer who doesn't care about details and consistency?


Of course, yes, but do I judge the poor fellow too harshly?


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:03
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Test Aug 19, 2008

Why not offer him a short test piece to review that contains just these types of mistakes and see if he catches them?

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:03
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I would say they are all errors to some degree Aug 19, 2008

I run a workshop for French job-seekers looking for employment in English (either abroad or in a multi-national where an English CV is required). We spend a whole day together going through the various sections, then they spend (hopefully) several hours at home putting their CV together, followed by half-an-hour or so picking it to pieces. After that, many send me the edited version for a final look.

That shows how much importance I place on their CVs!

Obviously, what you say (or sometimes don't say) is the most important thing to get right. Sometimes, near the end of the workshop, they get dismissive when I start picking holes in model CVs because of a mis-alignment by one character, non-underlining of one heading out of six, and any other inconsistencies, however trivial.

However, I tell them that the 'meat' of their CV may be very similar to several other CVs, and in that case, it's the 'sauce' that's going to get them or lose them the job. Depending on what job they're going to be doing, it could in fact be one of the things the reader will be looking closely at. Will they want to hire someone for a job that requires attention to detail when the candidate has quite clearly shown that they don't give a damn about detail. Surely, that's of utmost relevance to someone engaged in proofreading. Even if attention to detail isn't something the reader is specifically looking for, I'm sure he/she is looking for someone who will take pride in doing a good job. If you can't be bothered to do a good job of your CV, then what will your other work be like?

In short, there is no such thing as a perfect CV in terms of what we say and don't say, our choice of words etc. However, there is such a thing as a perfectly formatted CV with absolutely no errors due to inconsistency.

I wouldn't let this person proofread anything I was putting my name and reputation on.


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Amy Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:03
Italian to English
+ ...
Sloppiness: not an option Aug 19, 2008


1. He begins each paragraph with a title, in bold, underlined, followed by a colon. I have nothing against this, but he sometimes underlines the colon and sometimes not, and the colon is sometimes in bold and sometimes not.

Yes, that would get to me, too.

2. He lists his subject fields, in paragraph style, as a list separated by commas. I have nothing against this, but it seems that he had accidently typed a fullstop instead of a comma at one place, and since the word following that fullstop has a capital letter, it occurs to me that he probably has auto-capitalisation enabled in his word processor, and it doesn't bother him.

That says to me that he hasn't read his CV through. Not exactly good reviewer material?

3. One of the items in the résumé is "Certified: yes" but there is no indication where, for what, or by whom he has been certified.

Not the end of the world. You can always ask. Hey, at least there's no underlining.

4. One of the items in the résumé is "Credited: yes" but again, there is no mention of how or in what way he is or has been credited.

I find this one a bit weird.

5. He says that he has a university degree in English, but makes no mention of which university, in what year, or what the exact title of the degree is.

It's getting worse.

6. One of his paragraphs do not start with a bold, underlined title, but there is a title, and there is a colon. So, he simply forgot to add underline and bold style to this particular paragraph title. Without the bold and underline it looks as if the paragraph is a subsection of the previous paragraph.

Not sure about this one.

7. I'm a little concerned about his use of capitalisation. He writes "hospital" with a capital letter but "ministry of health" in lowercase. Okay, I'm not going to penalise him on this specifically -- after all, in my own language we also write names of government departments in lowercase.

Could be forgivable, depending on the exact context.

8. He calls himself specialised but he doesn't say what he is specialised in.

Hmm. What the heck is in his CV?

9. He lists a number of professional organisations and translator web sites (such as ProZ.com) where he is a member, but provides no membership numbers or user names.

Pedantic, sorry. I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to find his contributions, and if it were, you could always ask?

10. His résumé is 9 pages long. Two pages are devoted to an explanation of why DTP is difficult work, and three pages contain testimonials from people who are not identified.

Ah ha. Now I see. I'm not sure I would have lasted more than a couple of pages. That's long enough to say everything that needs to be said.

So, Samuel. I think you're 100% justified in having some concerns. However, on points 3, 7 (maybe), 8 (maybe - are these not covered in his subject fields?) and 9 you may have edged your toes over the pedantic line. But then, being 101% pedantic is pretty crucial when dishing out reviewer work, no? Sloppiness is not an option.

Pedantic and proud,
UK


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:03
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Not too harsh Aug 19, 2008

If someone doesn't pay attention to detail in a document he/she has had ample of time to polish, you can image how little attention he/she would pay to these things when facing a deadline. Once a flake, always a flake, and flakes don't make reliable colleagues and, most likely, their work will be equally "flaky".

I would probably be worried most about the imbalance of the lack of substantiating information and the length of the résumé. 9 pages? There is definitely something wrong with that person, and I don't think you would want to go through the trouble (pun intended) of finding out exactly what.

Did you ask your colleague on what exactly the recommendation is based?


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xxxJPW  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree with Amy Williams, and... Aug 19, 2008

...nine pages???

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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 07:03
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Where should I start? Aug 19, 2008

I'm baffled how you could have the least bit of doubt for your gut feeling on this one, Samuel? The guy's a slob, certainly not one to use as a reviewer. Based on the evidence of his CV you can expect that "little" details of bad punctuation will be ignored, changes won't be properly documented, etc. Do you really want to put up with such nonsense?

Go ahead and give him a test if you feel guilty about rejecting your colleague's recommendation, but I wouldn't expect him to pass with good marks.


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Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:03
Member (2003)
French to English
Vital Aug 19, 2008

Attention to detail is vital in a reviewer - I'd say you're absolutely right to be wary.

Best,

Karen

[Edited at 2008-08-19 16:09]


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xxxUSER0059  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 09:03
English to Finnish
+ ...
For a reviewer, attention to detail is <em>everything</em> Aug 19, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:

Do you think I should worry about inattention to detail in a translator's résumé?


The formatting issues in items 1, 2 and 6 are quite disturbing, especially considering that their author applies for a reviewing job. From his viewpoint, that résumé may be the single most important document of his entire career. If he cannot, or will not, polish it at least to near perfection, then how would he cope with “bread and butter” tasks?

I consider the other items more forgivable, but of course they are troublesome as well, especially in such a quantity.

My colleague says she sees nothing wrong with his résumé.


Is she a reviewer?


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:03
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
nto ipmoratnt a tall, wyh yuo aksing? Aug 19, 2008

Levity aside, I would never accept as translator or reviewer someone who is so sloppy in his or her own résumé.

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 07:03
Dutch to English
+ ...
Frankly ... Aug 19, 2008

... I'd be just as/more concerned about your colleague who sees nothing wrong with his resumé.

Not exactly a dream team you have there Samuel.

Best of luck
Debs





[Edited at 2008-08-19 18:20]


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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:03
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
Foot in the door Aug 19, 2008

A neat, correct profile or résumé is a reviewer's foot in the door. The slightest mistake will make me squirm and reject it. You are not pedantic, only there are too many red flags going on to entrust him with anything for which you will be the responsible party. After perusing his awful résumé, how could you send the job to the client without reviewing it yourself, again?

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