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New freelancer searching for reliable agencies
Thread poster: Stephanie Davies

Stephanie Davies
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:42
Spanish to English
Feb 10, 2009

Hi everyone!

I am just about to start out....and I have my CV ready to send to translation agencies. However there are so many, I would appreciate some advice on the best and most reliable agencies. As you can imagine, I need all the help I can get at the moment!

I have no professional experience yet, although I have translated for NPO's and studied translation for years, so I hope the agencies give me a chance!

Thanks
Steph

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-02-10 19:32 GMT]


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 19:42
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Send lots of CVs + use BlueBoard Feb 10, 2009

Dear Stephanie

Thanks for sharing with us your concerns.
A short but valuable piece of advice: be patient and constant, and try to send your CV to as many agencies as you can. There are so many new translators worldwide (especially working with your main pair of languages) that you must be ready to send, send, send...

Then, regarding "trustworthy agencies": a good indicator is the BlueBoard at ProZ: http://www.proz.com/blueboard You can find the reputation of lots of agencies there.

My 2 cents...

Wish you best luck
Fabio


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:42
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Two approaches Feb 10, 2009

Stephanie Davies wrote:
However there are so many, I would appreciate some advice on the best and most reliable agencies.


Approach 1: Judge in advance

You can visit the web sites of each agency and see if they look professional, and then also check them out in the Blue Board (if you are a platinum member) or in another list that the forum rules now prohibit me from mentioning by name.

Approach 2: Judge as and when

An easier approach may be to send your details indiscrimminately, but when you get a response, then you judge whether they seem to be professional, and you check their web sites and their BB entries and their PP^H^Hthat other list entries.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:42
English to German
+ ...
Also, when you check their websites: Feb 10, 2009

Beware of phrases such as "competitive rates" and "24 hour turnaround". I don't think I have to explain, why.

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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 22:42
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Clean up your profile Feb 10, 2009

Lose the comments about "no experience" and wanting to "break in". If you get really desperate, I suppose you can start a career breaking into flats, but it would be helpful at this point to project a bit of confidence. Post some samples of your work and let them speak for themselves.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:42
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I agree with Kevin Feb 10, 2009

Kevin Lossner wrote:
Lose the comments about "no experience" and wanting to "break in".


It may not always be clear to new users, but your "profile" is intended as an advertisement to potential clients, and not as an introduction of yourself to fellow-translators. It should rather not contain the type of honesty mentioned above.


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 19:42
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Modify your "About me" section Feb 10, 2009

Stephanie, looking into your CV and your profile, I suggest you put something like this in your "About me" section:
I have a BA Hons in Spanish/Human Resource Management and am currently studying an MA Translation studies at the University of the West of England, UK. My language pair is Spanish - English.

For a year I worked in Spain as a language assistant in two primary schools, where I communicated with children and staff and I checked and marked their work.

Then I worked on board aircrafts and was in charge of on-board safety of passengers and crew.

I also have translation experience with paperwork for non-profit organisations.

I use MetaTexis, Wordfast and Paraconc in my translation work.

Show what you can do! Let them know that you CAN!
And, don't miss the line about CAT tools, agencies take this as a MUST.

[Edited at 2009-02-10 23:21 GMT]


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chica nueva
Local time: 11:42
Chinese to English
Go local first, what do you think... Feb 10, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:

Stephanie Davies wrote:
However there are so many, I would appreciate some advice on the best and most reliable agencies.


Approach 1: Judge in advance

You can visit the web sites of each agency and see if they look professional, and then also check them out in the Blue Board (if you are a platinum member) or in another list that the forum rules now prohibit me from mentioning by name.

Approach 2: Judge as and when

...



Hi Stephanie!

You are new here I think. I'm a 'User' like you. Welcome!

1 How about: start local and specialised: go and visit some local agencies, contact some agencies working in your fields, attend local branch meetings of the translators association and listen to/observe peers. Decide on your business style, and look for compatible partners, clients. Why agencies? what about: approaching airlines, language schools etc direct; you might get a direct (and loyal) client and ongoing business that way. See what others say.

2 Blueboard: AFAIK you don't have to be a platinum member or even a member. You can pay with real money, or Browniz (points you earn for Kudoz, being active on this site, etc).

3 Nice profile! IMO the software should impress the agencies, I'm envious. If I were you I'd have another look at the CV though, before sending it out, the typeface, etc.

Best wishes

Lesley

[Edited at 2009-02-10 23:14 GMT]


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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:42
Member
French to English
+ ...
CV Feb 11, 2009

Dear Stephanie,

Welcome to Proz.com and good luck starting your business!

Before contacting agencies, you might want to think about rearranging the information in your CV so that the "hard facts" in which agencies will be interested (your areas of specialisation, for example) appear near the start rather than at the end. I think that you could probably drop the information about your GCSEs; I would certainly remove the grade information in any case.

Also, will you be contacting agencies for in-house or freelance work? If you are planning on going freelance, remember that you're not applying for work, but rather offering a professional service. As such, things like '• Ability to communicate, *motivate and work within a team*, as well as an individual' are likely of little importance to your potential customers.

Finally, I agree with Fabio: focus on what you can do rather than on your inexperience.

Be confident in your abilities - and good luck!
Jocelyne


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Stephanie Davies
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:42
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Greatly appreciated Feb 11, 2009

Thanks for all of your invaluable advice, I really appreciate it. Lesley, thanks for looking at my profile and commenting on it, as I said I need all the help I can get and your feedback is very helpful.

I didn't know where to start with my CV if I'm honest, I followed a little advice and that is what I came up with. I am still not 100% sure if it is any good! If anybdoy wishes to give me any constructive criticism I would gladly receive it! I was also unsure about rates, but people have so diverse rates on here (from €0.04 - €0.12) I assumed the most experienced people would be at the high end of the scale.

I am definitely going change my 'about me' section, you are so right Kevin, I guess I am just too honest...and I should be confident!!!

One last thing. Do agencies take NPO work as 'experience'. I seem to be hitting brick walls as they are asking me for at least 2 years professional translating experience, which I obviously don't have with referees to back me up. But, how would I get any experience without anyone giving me a chance. As you have all said, perseverance is the key, and believe me I will not give up. I think my next step is to pay for a proper membership on here, as I am only a free member at the moment!

Thanks again everyone

Steph


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 19:42
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Experience can start before you take notice :) Feb 11, 2009

Stephanie Davies wrote:
I seem to be hitting brick walls as they are asking me for at least 2 years professional translating experience, which I obviously don't have with referees to back me up. But, how would I get any experience without anyone giving me a chance.

You did work in another country, which gives you a unique experience to put into practice your translating and interpreting skills.

I started working as a freelancer in 2004. But my actual experience as translator (and interpreter) started in 2000/2001 when I lived and worked in Germany. As I was meant afterwards to implement German projects on South American soil, my brain was all the time comparing languages and cultures, ensuring that "what I do here is well-understood over there", etc. So, you see: out of the concern of being duly understood, a specialized translator was growing inside me.

Try to consider your own advantages and developed skills from that point of view!


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 22:42
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Honesty and experience Feb 11, 2009

Stephanie Davies wrote:
... you are so right Kevin, I guess I am just too honest...and I should be confident!!!

One last thing. Do agencies take NPO work as 'experience'.


Honesty and confidence are not mutually exclusive. The points I suggested you take out are simply not relevant to what you want to communicate. Fabio's advice about calling attention to what you can do is very important. I could spend a full day telling someone what I can't do (like neurosurgery and card tricks, for example), but it won't get me any closer to a business deal.

As for the NPO work, why isn't that experience? You translated, didn't you? It was used, wasn't it? The message was understood, wasn't it? Do you have or can you perhaps obtain written references for that work or provide examples of it? Good examples of your work in your profile can go a long way. There are people here and elsewhere with decades of experience whom I wouldn't trust to translate the label on a dog food can. And there are "beginners" whom I would give highly complex documents on metallurgical processes or creative cultural texts. By their fruits shall you know them, so show someone what you can actually do and don't get hung up on time periods. If you are actually any good and someone sees this then finds out that you are still rather green, they'll want a piece of the action before you are booked out by someone else. It's results that count. That's the honesty that really makes a difference.


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Steve Thomasson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:42
Member (2012)
German to English
Apologies for butting in... Feb 11, 2009

...but rather than make a new thread asking exactly the same thing I thought I had better put my question in here as it's in the same field.

I have eighteen months experience in translating a fairly wide range of documentation from business correspondence through to marketing texts / journal articles (and a further eight in checking patents and occasional translation thereof when required), but these eighteen months were as a placement student out there so correspondingly I didn't get the toughest ones by any means.

Now I understand Kevin's point about "you translated...it was understood, it is experience" and that would be pretty much as I would see it so in that regard it can be said I have a bit of experience behind me. I guess my question is at what point does "placement student" become overly dressed up as "translator", so to speak.


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree with other posters Feb 12, 2009

1) Yes, focus on what you DO have and CAN do. We all start somewhere. I include my experience as a tutor of basic academic skills because it is relevant in several ways. (I won't go in to much detail right now....I am making dinner.)

2) Yes, use the Blue Board. My rule is to not apply to an agency if their rating is below 4.0. That's more of an absolute limit, because I aim to keep it at no lower than 4.5. I will not waste my time with agencies that won't pay, or have unprofessional PMs.



[Edited at 2009-02-12 01:01 GMT]


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Rod Walters  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 07:42
Japanese to English
Ways to present things Feb 12, 2009

If you're concerned about being stigmatized for translating for NPOs, and who knows, you might be, you could instead present the same information in a different way. Rather than mentioning the client, which in many ways is irrelevant, you could focus on the content that you translated, the volume, and the (very demanding) target readership.

My impression is that, in saying "I hope the agencies will give me a chance", you're simply giving them a chance not to try you out. So my advice would be to take a hard look at your experience and present it in ways that give potential clients the least reason to pass you over.

A lot of the 'screening' is just arbitrary rubbish and the faster you can cut through it, the sooner you'll be doing good paid work.

I wish you every success!


[Edited at 2009-02-12 01:35 GMT]


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