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600 words as a test - too many?
Thread poster: Minoru Kuwahara
Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 07:35
English to Japanese
+ ...
Feb 2, 2006

Hello fellow ProZians at Japanese forum,

I have recently been contacted by an agency in North America. As a convention, they asked me to forward them my most recent resume to clarify my past experiences and working environment along with rate information. But I was also asked to complete a "600-word test with the time line of 24 hours", which they say is required according to their vendor screening process.

Instanly I just wondered if 600 words within 24 hours are a little more than I would expect to complete as a test translation. This is no doubt a count which may possibly disturb my routine job hours (OK, if I don't have a job, I might accept, of course). What I'm concerned here is that I can show them ample examples of past experiences in the target fileds (as they request that information) but they still need this level of sample translation as a test.

Do you have simlar occasions at times? Do you usually accept such tests to complete, then? Don't you think it might be a little more than you regard it as a test translation for free? I'm curious about views and experiences possibly posted by any ones of you.

Best regards,
Minoru Kuwahara
mulberryfield


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 14:35
English to French
+ ...
Strange... Feb 2, 2006

Hi Minoru

I think 600 words is too much, and the deadline is unusual too.
150 words is usually more than enough to judge the quality of a translator's work, unless you have 4 files in 4 different fields, of course.

Also, they seldom give deadlines for tests. You shouldn't take too long, of course, but deadlines are unheard of.

Be careful, they may be trying to get a translation for free!

Sarah


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Kazumichi Sato  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 07:35
Time consuming trial forced by Japanese agency Feb 2, 2006

I think 600words/24hours is too large because I know you have a lot of experience as a translator. But this is based on ProZ providing information.

I think there are a lot of issue about trials or tests forced by agencies. I feel your situation is better than ours... at least than mine. Some agencies in Japan has their tranlstion training course. They force novice translators to perform hard trial. Even if the result is a little bit less than their expected, they recommend translators to purchase thier course to improve their translation.

Another medical-dedicated agency made a selection trial choosing 30 translators from 200 applicants for a famous medical dictinary revision taking almost one month. I can't remember how many words I've translated for it.

I believe ProZ can be utilized to save such a time-consuming, mind-irritating trial process. New function "Project History" will work for us as proof of experiences combined with conventional "Portfolio". Histories can be also proven and supported by agencies' comments... if I made good job for them.

Now one and only problem is that Japanese agencies don't use ProZ.

Kazumichi Sato


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sumc
United States
Local time: 17:35
English to Japanese
+ ...
Agree with Sarah Feb 2, 2006

I kind of get the same feeling as Sarah does. For me, not only 600 words too many, but such an urgent (24 hours!) DEADLINE suggests that this agent is carrying an actual job. FYI: I rarely take a test translation. As far as I have been contacted in the past, most, if not all, agents usually offer one week for a test translation (300 to 350 words at most).

Good luck!


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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 07:35
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
it's lengthy, yes, but seems to be a good agency... Feb 2, 2006

Hi Sarah-san, Sato-san, sumc-san,

Thank you for your quick notices and posts. I'm sort of assured that 600 words are certainly much more than the amount of words they need from us for evaluation purpose. Just reviewing thier initial contact mail, I assume it seems to be the client end that requires such a lengthy test. I don't know if it's something like specifcally designed only for this occasion, but they also remark the deadline of 24 hours is stated in their company policy. (I thought it's unusual, too, hence a doubt.)

However, on the outlook, they may not be a "bad agency". I checked them in Blue Board to find that 12 translators put positive comments, rating them as 5(highest) for LWA(Likelihood of Working Again) over the period of the last 3 years. Obviously they may have certain reputation as an agency, never being fraudulent in their payment practice. According to some of them, they also seem to be organized in project management. If judging in a regular manner, I would think "why not accept?" With their reputatuion, then, I'm still not convinced why such a good agency practices a lengthy test translation in sreening translators in spite of our proving records of past translation. Besides it's just for one field (computer hardware and software). As Sarah-san says, I know a usual "test" involves only as many as about 200 words for one particular target field with a flexible deadline.

Responding to Sato-san's comment, I'm surprised to hear about an agency in Japan, requiring you to take a course! (Does that happen to be related to Trados?) Actually I myself once had a few occasions in which I thought some translation agencies in Japan may not have an established manner of evaluating translators, but just requesting a lengthy (sometimes even messy) test, test, test...

Up until now, I wasn't aware of new ProZ.com features, ie. Project History. I took a brief look at it, not yet convinced how to use. Maybe if we're given positive feedback from agencies we work for, it will be certainly a good reference for potential new agencies who contact us and request a sample translation. Looks like an enhancing implementation. I'd hope it would be sure to back us up to evade time-comsuimg, mind-irritating process, as Sato-san points out.

In any case, trapped between their reputation and unreasonable "600 words within 24 hours" test, I wonder if I should really go over taking it up to be registered.

Thank you for all of your insights anyway.

Regards,
Minoru Kuwahara


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 14:35
English to French
+ ...
Project history vs tests Feb 2, 2006

Well... Some agencies like to see your style because they know what a specific client wants, and they may want to see how you solve some specific problems. If they know what they are doing, their test will involve a number of problems for you to solve.

So I think tests are good, if they are well prepared and well analyzed. As we are professionals too, we can also test the agency ourselves, see if the tests are good, how they handle them, so forth. And we can also have a first contact with the agency at the same time.

Good luck, Kuwahara sensei!


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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 07:35
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
true Feb 3, 2006

sarahl wrote:

Well... Some agencies like to see your style because they know what a specific client wants, and they may want to see how you solve some specific problems. If they know what they are doing, their test will involve a number of problems for you to solve.

So I think tests are good, if they are well prepared and well analyzed. As we are professionals too, we can also test the agency ourselves, see if the tests are good, how they handle them, so forth. And we can also have a first contact with the agency at the same time.

Good luck, Kuwahara sensei!


Hi Sarah,

Yes, I agree with you absolutely. That's a real ideal style of dealing with tests presented by agencies if we could be so tactic. We naturally expect them to be organized as well as 'fair' in their screening process. From my experiences, some agencies seemed not to be on that standard, though rare, using unprofessional people as reviewers, totally neglecting afterwards, etc., which left nothing fruitful, at least, in view of a translator. We could be truly more cooperative in that respect on condition that agencies have a good mechanism to prepare and analyse test translation translators dare spare time for besides real works.

Also, I think if an agency is matured in industry, they naturally have established certain style guides to keep consistency among different translators. They know what they do and what could be problematic in translation processes.

Regards,
Minoru

[Edited at 2006-02-03 06:32]


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Marc Adler  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:35
Japanese to English
Jumping in late here... Mar 1, 2006

This thread's a month old now, so I don't know if my response will be of any use, but my opinion is - NO! Do not accept that kind of ridiculous trial, on principle. If we as translators give in to that kind of treatment, agencies will come to expect it. Unpaid trials must be short and have a long deadline. Period. If they can't offer those conditions, then you can take your skills elsewhere, and there are plenty of agencies out there.

Just my two cents.

Marc


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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 07:35
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for a reply. Mar 21, 2006

Marc Adler wrote:

This thread's a month old now, so I don't know if my response will be of any use, but my opinion is - NO! Do not accept that kind of ridiculous trial, on principle. If we as translators give in to that kind of treatment, agencies will come to expect it. Unpaid trials must be short and have a long deadline. Period. If they can't offer those conditions, then you can take your skills elsewhere, and there are plenty of agencies out there.

Just my two cents.

Marc


Hello Marc, your post is never late in view of this topic. I agree, if we yield to this type of sample request, we may end up being expected by agencies just as if some of our colleagues try clinging to unreasonably lower rates as discussed somewhere else. That's certainly not our option to take. Besides, my concern goes to who could be the evaluators especially when (in my case) I think my target language is Japanese, which is my mother tongue, and the agency is oriented in foreign countries. What is that process of screening translators residing abroad? In whatever language you work from/into, how could your samples be actually looked at and who could be qualified people to do that behind agencies asking you to submit them? Just some of our colleagues in the translation sources? I have never heard of that. My biggest wonder is how agencies could establish such connections, maybe which is not always the case with in-country agencies.
Meanwhile, several new agencies are continuously asking me to complete test, test, test... yes, again... Probably better go with them when word counts are not beyond my own allowance.


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Katrin Hollberg  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:35
Japanese to German
+ ...
Tests are more or less a waste of time - from my point of view... Mar 31, 2006

Hello everybody,

also a very late comment to that topic...same opinion as most of you share.

I only did a test once and was asked to do a second one in order to qualify more properly for a next level. At that time I decided to drop that "potential job" and while still being annoyed I wrote a harsh comment to the agency's contact person about their wasting my precious time. This person only told me that she would send my comment to their HR team and guess what happened?...I never heard of them again...And this is what I learned from most of you in the proz-forum. A lot of translators are only exploited by certain agencies. However, sometimes I am just curious about the demandings and testing procedures agencies regard as being very skillfully arranged.

...so it might happen I will take part in another test again someday, BUT honestly my best experiences are doing small translation jobs as a good starting point for a long-term relationship between myself and agencies/other contractors.

Another interesting point is that this "testing" procedure only seems to be relevant for ENG-GER...for the language pair JAP-GER I was asked to do a translation without any distrust concerning my abilities (although I am still quite new as a freelancer). I had expected more distrust in advance! Maybe due to the fact that this is not such a common language pair ;- ))

So my resume is: Winning new customers by doing small jobs in a very high quality. The more you do the more frequent jobs you get after a while. And what's most important at the same time//YOU DON'T DO IT FOR FREE BUT GET PAID FOR IT!!!

Greetings

Katrin


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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 07:35
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
similar experience here Apr 6, 2006

Hello Katrin,

Your experience is certainly not a pleasant one with that agency. I would not regard it as so deceitful, but I once had a similar experience in which I sent out a regular-standard quality output never to be heard of afterwards. However, it may be also true that test would be one of the most effective methods of screening for agencies, especially in urgency.


So my resume is: Winning new customers by doing small jobs in a very high quality. The more you do the more frequent jobs you get after a while. And what's most important at the same time//YOU DON'T DO IT FOR FREE BUT GET PAID FOR IT!!!


Yes, truly I got my services familiarized gradually for a few years with some of the most trustful agencies I have worked with. In that sense, that would be a better option in translator's view, however, first of all, I may wonder if we would get such constant opportunities to be asked to do smaller jobs first which eventually lead to higher volume of works, or if new agencies themselves may allow us to accept only small ones besides medium-large ones. From my experience, a true "job" would be more or less 500-1000 words, which is already not necessarily so small, after all, which agencies may not favorably ask for new or untested translators. Of course, it may depend on agencies whether or not such methods are accepted or even preferable...

In short, we may need to have certain ethics regarding these tests, whether or not we accept or refuse them, and how we are to be evaluated or scored. That, I think, is, at least, fair and we learn something to proceed.

mulberryfield
Minoru Kuwahara


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Ben Dooley
Local time: 17:35
Japanese to English
2 page test Aug 3, 2006

I've translated professionally for about three years now, and although I've done a number of freelance projects, they've always been through introduction.

Now, that I'm trying to get started as a full-time freelancer, I've received my first "test". The company asked me translate two pages of text (they sent two files from different specialties for me to choose from), with no specific deadline. The two pages consisted of excerpts from several different sources, with zero context. Although I'm sure they weren't trying to get a free translation, I felt more than a little put upon. I have excellent references, and in the future, I think I will insist that potential clients contact me instead of submitting me to another test.

That's four hours of my life gone, and judging form what I've read here, I don't expect to hear back from them.

Oh well...

[Edited at 2006-08-03 04:22]


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