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Translation agencies and tests
Thread poster: Anne Seerup

Anne Seerup
Ireland
Local time: 23:18
English to Danish
+ ...
Jun 18, 2003

I am just writing after having failed a test I received from an agency. This was over 1200 words to be done within 48 hours and honestly I didn't really feel like making an effort, knowing that I would not get paid for all the hassle.. On top of that I received a urgent project - so I guess I prioritised this rather than the test and ended up having to finish the latter in the early hours leaving the agency with a pile of ****

Having done loads of other tests and passed them with honor but without receiving any work afterwards I am starting to feel slightly less encouraged and that this is just something the agencies send as a standard although they do not have a need for your service and may never have. So I thought it would be nice to hear what your experiences are? Good and bad.
Do you have any limits for what you can accept?
I think 200 words would show perfectly well what the translator is capable of and give an idea of their linguistic style etc.
1200 words is quite a lot - it consisted of samples and excerpts so it was a genuine test.



Let me hear


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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:18
Member
German to English
+ ...
Two points ... Jun 18, 2003

Yes, 1200 words is a lot for a test. As you say, 200 words should be ample to demonstrate your skills.

I see no reason why a test translation should ever have a deadline. Either they are interested in your work, or they are not. They must accept that unpaid tests have to take lower priority than paid work. The only circumstance in which a test could have a deadline is if it is for a specific project, rather than work in general.

FWIW

Mary


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JKB
United States
Local time: 18:18
English to German
+ ...
Test Translation Jun 18, 2003

I fully agree with both of you - test translations should not be longer than 200-300 words and there should certainly be NO pressure to complete them. My red flags would go up if I was put under pressure for a test translation. 1200 words is a joke!

Generally, I don't mind doing test translations. I think they are the best way to find out whether you're right for the job or not. However, I prefer to do them when approached with an actual possible job, not just for fun - time is precious! So, I point out my experiences and list my completed jobs, and when an assignment comes up that seems to match my credentials, I am happy to do the test translation.
Oh, on a related topic: If an agency asks me for references, and I have not worked for them before, I also ask THEM for references from other translators who have worked for them. In times like this, you just never know who sits on the other computer ... and might not pay you for your hard work.

Best,
Julia


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Egmont
Spain
Local time: 00:18
Afrikaans to Spanish
+ ...
translation tests Jun 18, 2003

Mary Richards wrote:

Yes, 1200 words is a lot for a test. As you say, 200 words should be ample to demonstrate your skills.

I see no reason why a test translation should ever have a deadline. Either they are interested in your work, or they are not. They must accept that unpaid tests have to take lower priority than paid work. The only circumstance in which a test could have a deadline is if it is for a specific project, rather than work in general.

FWIW

Mary

According to my experience since 1971, one day I decided to stop doing translations tests when a spanish and progressive publishing house (Ed. Akal, S.A.) asked me to translate a whole chapter of a book (30 pages)(DE>ES) for free...


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Egmont
Spain
Local time: 00:18
Afrikaans to Spanish
+ ...
translation tests Jun 18, 2003

alkvw wrote:

Mary Richards wrote:

Yes, 1200 words is a lot for a test. As you say, 200 words should be ample to demonstrate your skills.

I see no reason why a test translation should ever have a deadline. Either they are interested in your work, or they are not. They must accept that unpaid tests have to take lower priority than paid work. The only circumstance in which a test could have a deadline is if it is for a specific project, rather than work in general.

FWIW

Mary

According to my experience since 1971, one day I decided to stop doing translations tests when a spanish and progressive publishing house (Ed. Akal, S.A.) asked me to translate a whole chapter of a book (30 pages)(DE>ES) for free...
...as a test...


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xxxncfialho  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:18
German to Portuguese
+ ...
I once... Jun 18, 2003

told an agency, that sended me 2 diferent texts for a test and a deadline, that I could do one of the 2 texts and without a deadline. After that they sended me a email saying that they were not actually searching for a translator in my languege pair....well some agencies are soo stupid....
Natália


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Rick Henry  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:18
Italian to English
+ ...
This should have raised a red flag... Jun 18, 2003

Anne Seerup wrote:

This was over 1200 words to be done within 48 hours

Honestly, every test I´ve ever received from an agency has come with ¨Get this back to us when you can... no rush¨. The fact that they were asking for that many words in 48 hours stikes me as less than genuine. Depending on the subject matter, I´d be inclined to think you were giving them a free translation (or a part of one).
And I fully agree with the other posters that 200 words is sufficient.

R.
==


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Wenke Geddert  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:18
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Translation Tests Jun 18, 2003

That amount of words as a free "test" translation is outrageous! I agree with everyone else that tests should be in the region of 200 - 300 words max. I stopped doing tests as well - although I specifically outlined my subject areas in the CV submitted PRIOR to receiving the test piece, all tests came back in totally different specialisms (which I wouldn't have undertaken for paid work either!). So much for selecting a close match... The best one I received recently: 350 words - exactly an independent section (I checked on receipt) - taken from an agency's website in English. Nice way of website localisation...

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Anne Seerup
Ireland
Local time: 23:18
English to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I don't think they are cheating Jun 18, 2003

I think they are genuine as there was no rush sending the test to me - but once I had received it, it had to be completed within 48 hours. However, I still think 1200 words is way too much for a test and shows lack of respect for us as freelancers.






Tayfun Torunoglu wrote:

As other colleagues underlined a job of 1200 words is very large to be a test translation. But most striking and revealing is the strict deadline. It is obviously a rush job done free.Perhaps some think there are so many translatiors in each language pair to get \"test translations\" done each time.
If you are sure of your translation, demand the corrections and detailed ground of rejection. If there is no satisfactory answer, think about sending an invoice if other proofs support that is a real job(Type of the file, company names, dates etc.).
Before any test translation or real job assignment:Absolutely check the agency from Blue Board and other PP lists.Such kind of agencies may probably be rated negative.


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Karin Adamczyk  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:18
Member
French to English
There are abusers and legitimate agencies Jun 18, 2003

Anne Seerup wrote:

I am just writing after having failed a test I received from an agency.



Hi Anne,

Sorry to hear about this unfortunate situation.

As in everything, there are abusers and legitimate agencies that need to determine your skills and whether you can perform under pressure.

I do agree though that 1,200 words is too long.

The longest test I ever submitted was to a very large and well-known agency, but this was because they included various texts in a number of fields and they asked me to complete the tests for the fields I specialize in.

I don't remember how much text I translated, but I have been receiving a lot of work from them. I am currently working on yet another very large project.

In addition to providing interesting and regular work, they are wonderful to deal with. A large project was cancelled by their client not too long ago. I had already done a substantial amount of work, but most of my time was spent on research in the beginning. When I explained that the word count was not representative of the actual work I had done on the project, they asked me to tell them the number of hours I had spent on the job. They agreed with me and are charging the client the higher amount that represents the time I actually spent on the document.

Good luck,
Karin Adamczyk


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Guillermo de la Puerta  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:18
German to Spanish
+ ...
I am tired of them Jun 18, 2003

Hello Anne,
1200 words is really a lot as a test. I've done lots of tests and they begin to seem to me like a waste of time and sometimes I feel these companies are just pulling my leg.

I even think some of them solve work by sending tests in mail lists.

Very curiously I never got a job (and very often I did't get even an answer on the results) from those companies that asked me to do a test.

Paradoxically not one of the companies that hired me has ever asked me to do a test.
And I still work for some of that kind in very good conditions.

Never the less I wouldn't accept a test longer than 300 words

Kind Regards and Good Luck

wildlp




[Edited at 2003-06-18 19:26]


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:48
English to Tamil
+ ...
Demand payment for the test translation Jun 19, 2003

One agency in Bangalore, India sent me a test translation of 1500 words and told me that it was quite urgent. There was no mention of the rates ofered by them nor was it made clear whether the test translation was free or not. I just sent them a proforma invoice by email at my regular rate and made it clear that that my lead-time will be reckoned from the date of receipt of their approval of my invoice. The agency replied that they cannot pay for the test translation and left the matter at that. Even now they did not intimate their rates. No doubt the rates were much lower than mine and they were wary of giving their rates. Whatever it might be, I was spared of some heartburn.
My advice is clear. Respect yourself. If you don't, others are not going to do that for you. Even the limit of 200 words is valid for the first time only for a given agency.


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Vesna Zivcic  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:18
German to Croatian
+ ...
Perseverance tests Jun 19, 2003

Anne Seerup wrote:

I think 200 words would show perfectly well what the translator is capable of and give an idea of their linguistic style etc.



I agree wholeheatedly. I applied for a potential job advertized by a direct client and agreed to do a test translation. When I received the file, I saw that it contained almost 1000 words. I wrote back telling them that this sample was too long for a usual test translation and if they wanted to check quality, they could do it on a smaller sample (up to 300 words). They replied that by using long test translation they wanted to pre-select the most hardworking and most persistant translators!

And I naively thought test translations test only quality...

Anyway, they are going to get what they wanted. I wished them good luck.

[Edited at 2003-06-19 06:52]


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:18
German to English
+ ...
Tests and deadlines Jun 19, 2003

Although I have done them occasionally myself, and also sent them out to translators when I worked for an agency, in the main I am opposed to agencies requiring tests.

There is a special case, though, and that is when an agency has been asked by a new end client to submit to a test. In this case, if I already have a good working relationship with the agency and stand to benefit from their new customer, I am generally willing to do a (short) test at no charge. Such a test obviously has to be to a deadline, or the agency is not going to win the customer.

Marc


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:48
English to Tamil
+ ...
If you are already working for an agency, they require no convincing on your part Jun 19, 2003

What is the main purpose of a test? The potential client wants to know, whether you are capable of delivering good work or not. If you are already working for him you need not convince your client. If your client has to convince his client, that is upto him. Let him not charge him but he has to pay you. If he wants a new client, he should be ready to invest some money and take some risk. If you are not to charge him, what is he risking or investing? Don't spoil him that way. My regular client, who is a good agency pays me for the test translation ever since I gave him this argument. And since each of us knows the respective limits, there is no misunderstanding.



MarcPrior wrote:

Although I have done them occasionally myself, and also sent them out to translators when I worked for an agency, in the main I am opposed to agencies requiring tests.

There is a special case, though, and that is when an agency has been asked by a new end client to submit to a test. In this case, if I already have a good working relationship with the agency and stand to benefit from their new customer, I am generally willing to do a (short) test at no charge. Such a test obviously has to be to a deadline, or the agency is not going to win the customer.

Marc


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