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What can I do when the job isn't sent?
Thread poster: Michelle Plaistow

Michelle Plaistow  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:01
French to English
+ ...
Mar 28, 2009

I am a newbie and I am yet to actually get a translation job, although I have been bidding almost constantly on every job (on here and other sites) for which I am eligible since January. Last weekend I thought I had a job, but due to my lack of experience I didn't realise that the client expected me to confirm receipt of the email in which he confirmed receipt of my email confirming receipt of the documents. Unfortunately the job was just cancelled instead of trying to get hold of me to ask.

Then yesterday I received an email from Agency XXX asking if I could help with this huge project for early next week. I jumped at the chance and immediately sent my Skype details to them, as requested. We chatted about the job a little, I accepted (without seeing the document, I'm so desperate) and even gave a conservative estimate of how much I could do so that I wouldn't be too rushed. Again, the rate was lower than hoped for, but maybe my expectations are what need to be adjusted.

At 1.30 pm (CET) I was told that the documents would be with me within an hour. After one and a half hours I asked again, to be told that they would be with me as soon as possible, the agency didn't have them yet. After five and a half hours I had to go out so asked for them to be sent by email, the outsourcer said that was fine and they would be with me soon. When I got home at 1.30 am (12 hours after original agreement), still not there, and now 25 hours afterwards, yup, still not with me.

What can I do? This agency has 4.9 rating on the Blue Board, so they can't be all that bad. But since lack of communication on my part for several hours led to a job being cancelled last week, how can the outsourcer expect me to just hang on? I don't believe that I will get an extra day to complete the translation, so why should I wait so long to get the documents?


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Stuart Fehr  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:01
German to English
+ ...
Ideas Mar 28, 2009

Hi, Michelle!

Just a couple of ideas for you. I'm sort of new at this too, but I have managed to pick up a few things. First, you might try visiting into an employment agency in your area and applying with them. Try to narrow down a few areas of expertise before you go in. Second, you might want to consider doing some pro-bono translation work in your community just to get references and get your name out there. Hope this is helpful.

Stuart


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Lutz Molderings  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:01
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
not much you can do Mar 28, 2009

Hi Michelle. I don't think I'd worry too much about this. This happens quite frequently. Agencies often check the availability of translators before they actually know whether they have got the job. Just like us, agencies have to quote and wait for replies.
See what happens on Monday. If they haven't contacted you by, say, 4pm, send them a short email asking them whether/when you can expect the files.
Tell them you have another project in sight and therefore need to know.

[Edited at 2009-03-28 15:43 GMT]


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QUOI  Identity Verified

Chinese to English
+ ...
Don't be afraid to negotiate and re-negotiate before, during and after… Mar 28, 2009

Renegotiate a deadline with your client. Politely tell them why you think it is fair and in the best interest of all parties concerned. Be polite and firm and be prepared to walk away. In the meantime, get on with your life.

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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:01
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Very strange... Mar 28, 2009

Michelle Plaistow wrote:
Last weekend I thought I had a job, but due to my lack of experience I didn't realise that the client expected me to confirm receipt of the email in which he confirmed receipt of my email confirming receipt of the documents. Unfortunately the job was just cancelled instead of trying to get hold of me to ask.



No one has commented on this yet, so I will. I find the fact that you sent an e-mail confirming receipt of the documents, and then the client confirmed your e-mail, expecting you to confirm his/hers VERY WEIRD. In my experience of over a decade in the business, it has gone like this: When the client sends me an e-mail with the job attached, I reply saying that I received it, and that's that! Unless there are other questions, comments, etc. to be made about the job, there is no more communication until I send the job. I'm just telling you this because you didn't do anything wrong! The client may have canceled the job for some other reason and just used that as an excuse.

Good luck...sounds like you're on the right path!


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 11:01
Turkish to English
+ ...
These things happen Mar 28, 2009

Lutz Molderings (MSc, BSc) wrote:

Hi Michelle. I don't think I'd worry too much about this. This happens quite frequently. Agencies often check the availability of translators before they actually know whether they have got the job. Just like us, agencies have to quote and wait for replies.
See what happens on Monday. If they haven't contacted you by, say, 4pm, send them a short email asking them whether/when you can expect the files.
Tell them you have another project in sight and therefore need to know.

[Edited at 2009-03-28 15:43 GMT]


I agree with Lutz; these things happen. It is even more frustrating when you accept an assignment from one client and are waiting for the documents to arrive when somebody else contacts you to ask about your availability. You tell this second potential client that you are busy, and then the first client comes back to you and says that the job has been cancelled!

Sometimes I make a point when replying to job inquiries of stating something like "this offer is valid until ...", which means that unless the client sends me the work or at least gets back in touch by this time, I am free to accept other offers that come along. Usually I foregt to add this kind of condition and have lived to regeret it on a number of occasions.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Been there, done that, and for me it was worse Mar 28, 2009

I checked the agency that did this to me once, and their LWA is 4.8 now, because of my entry a while ago, plus a recent one from another dissatisfied translator. Maybe it was still 4.9 when you checked.

They are indeed huge. One day a PM called me on the phone, international long distance. They had a 120K words urgent proofreading job. Would I be available full time and overtime next week? Yes! Making a long story short, they sent me a very detailed and formal PO with the source (but no translated) files, and then kept me standing by for four months (during which I turned down every single largish and urgent job) while that job was on hold by the end-client's request, until the whole thing was cancelled.

Next time there will be a rather hefty up-front standby fee, up to half of which may eventually deductible from the final payment. Otherwise they'll have to go back to the end of the queue.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:01
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Just normal business! Mar 28, 2009

Unfortunately this is normal business. Most agencies will tell you in case there is any change in the plans agreed, but some don't think it is important.

In this case, I would politely send ONE simple email to the agency asking whether the job is still on, just for your planning purposes. I have done it many times in the past just to plan my time properly. If they don't respond to the inquiry, you can safely assume that the job was cancelled or assigned to some other person they found after they had agreed to send you the job (also normal business with some people).

And don't worry! You will be working too many hours a day and neglecting your friends and relatives sooner than you expect. Just be sure you pay attention to all the little details, do your best to check your email often so that you don't miss opportunities, don't unnecessarily rush in the first jobs, and check many sources if you get work in a topic you don't know a lot about.

GOOD LUCK!


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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 10:01
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
Usual business Mar 28, 2009

Michelle Plaistow wrote:

I am a newbie and I am yet to actually get a translation job, although I have been bidding almost constantly on every job (on here and other sites) for which I am eligible since January. Last weekend I thought I had a job, but due to my lack of experience I didn't realise that the client expected me to confirm receipt of the email in which he confirmed receipt of my email confirming receipt of the documents. Unfortunately the job was just cancelled instead of trying to get hold of me to ask.

Then yesterday I received an email from Agency XXX asking if I could help with this huge project for early next week. I jumped at the chance and immediately sent my Skype details to them, as requested. We chatted about the job a little, I accepted (without seeing the document, I'm so desperate) and even gave a conservative estimate of how much I could do so that I wouldn't be too rushed. Again, the rate was lower than hoped for, but maybe my expectations are what need to be adjusted.

At 1.30 pm (CET) I was told that the documents would be with me within an hour. After one and a half hours I asked again, to be told that they would be with me as soon as possible, the agency didn't have them yet. After five and a half hours I had to go out so asked for them to be sent by email, the outsourcer said that was fine and they would be with me soon. When I got home at 1.30 am (12 hours after original agreement), still not there, and now 25 hours afterwards, yup, still not with me.

What can I do? This agency has 4.9 rating on the Blue Board, so they can't be all that bad. But since lack of communication on my part for several hours led to a job being cancelled last week, how can the outsourcer expect me to just hang on? I don't believe that I will get an extra day to complete the translation, so why should I wait so long to get the documents?


Hello Michelle,

You really shouldn't freak out that much !

The agencies (almost) always say they'll send it to you today and end up sending it next week...

You did one mistake and lesson learned I assume !

It's true that it's very important to confirm it when:

1°/You intend to accept a job.
2°/When you receive a file.
3°/When you send a file always ask for a confirmation.

And that's it there isn't that much you can do.

Best regards,

Moh


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:01
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My advice - think positive Mar 28, 2009

slfehr wrote:
Second, you might want to consider doing some pro-bono translation work in your community just to get references and get your name out there.


I'd second that way of getting both references and experience, hopefully with full feedback although that isn't always forthcoming.

I assume you are already actively canvassing the agencies rather than quoting for jobs on the ProZ site - it certainly doesn't pay to rely 100% on ProZ for finding a job. In fact, perhaps the best way to use ProZ, in my opinion, is as a showcase for your skills and professionalism. To this end, you need to do the things that will make you rise in the ratings eg a fully-completed profile and KudoZ points.

I was surprised to see that you haven't answered any questions on the site - obviously there's no requirement to do that but it might be a good use of your time, and will bump you up the list so you will be more visible to outsourcers. Also, if I might take the liberty, I think your "about me" text is a little negative in places. Where you say "Having only recently moved to Germany I do not yet speak German", you could in all honesty have said "Having recently moved to Germany I will soon be able to offer my services in the German to English pair".

Whatever you do or don't do, stay positive - you have every chance of success.


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trebla
Canada
Local time: 04:01
French to English
The usual Mar 28, 2009

This is one thing that really bugs me about this business. You are invited to bid on a job that MAY be awarded to you, and then you don't get a NO reply after the job is awarded to somebody else.

If an agency calls for bids, it should have the courtesy to advise EACH bidder about the non-awarding of a job.

As far as I'm concerned, a commitment has to be a two way thing, so unless and until I get a FIRM offer from an agency, neither they not I have made a commitment, and I just keep on bidding.


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Michelle Plaistow  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:01
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Mar 29, 2009

Thanks everyone. I'll consider the points you've all made. Just to reply to a few of the suggestions:

Doing more than just using Proz - I use several similar sites and I've lost count of the number of local agencies I've sent letters to by mail (more substantial than just an e-mail) and others by e-mail. I keep doing a few more every day.

Employment agency - I now live in Germany, but I'm just learning German and none of the agencies, not even the government job centre are willing to even speak to me until I reach a certain level of German. They gave me a list of (useless) websites to visit and sent me away.

Pro-bono work - I have applied to around 20 places asking about pro-bono work, they don't even want me for free.

I'll try some of the other suggestions anyway.

Thanks again for your help.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:01
English to German
+ ...
Improve your profile page Mar 29, 2009

By participating in KudoZ and - making your CV accessible and user friendly. I noticed that your CV is provided as .docx. Not everybody can open this relatively new format. I could not.

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Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:01
English to German
+ ...
A little help... Mar 29, 2009

Hi Michelle,

may I draw your attention to this thread?

http://www.proz.com/forum/getting_established/131164-starting_out_as_a_freelancer_necessities_and_assistance.html

Good luck!
Aniello

PS: Run your business like a freelancer (company).
Change from an employee mindset to a freelancer mindset.


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xxx1279
Local time: 04:01
Change the way you quote Mar 30, 2009

Hi Michelle,

As many others have mentioned, it is fairly common in the industry to have to wait longer than expected to receive files (from both end clients and agencies). It is also common to have the files but have to wait for confirmation that you can officially begin the project. One way to prevent these situations from causing overly tight deadlines is to always state your projected completion times relative to when you receive the entire document to be translated and/or the official "go-ahead" on the project. For example, you might say you can complete a job "within three business days after receipt of the files." Or you might say that you can complete the job by such-and-such a day, as long as the files are received by 5:00 p.m. today. This tactic typically works well for me.

Regards,
Clare


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