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Long test translations
Thread poster: Milos Prudek

Milos Prudek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 13:06
English to Czech
+ ...
Jul 16, 2004

I receive maybe 1-3 new agency offers daily. Most of the time they require test translations, often quite lengthy - 300, 500 words. I would be employed full time and paid nothing if I did all these tests.

And I find it silly that I should do these tests after 15 years in translation business...

What stategy to choose?

- Should I offer to do only a part of the test (100 words?

- Should I offer to send a sample of my old translation?

- Should I send them my references instead?

The problem is when I select any of these alternatives I hardly ever hear from the agency again... is it because it's easier for them to move to another applicant and not waste their time with a "problematic" applicant that refuses to follow their standards? How do you deal with this situation?


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 07:06
German to English
Short test only Jul 16, 2004

This is another area where translators frequently disagree. Some claim they NEVER do tests.

A *short* test (1 page or less), when used intelligently, can be a useful screening device for an agency. I've seen tests which included false cognates, typical stylistic problems, etc. which showed that the agency put some thought into the selection of text.

I have two approaches to tests. (1) If I have initiated contact with the agency (which is rare), I complete the test immediately, since I am the one requesting consideration). (2) If the agency has initiated contact, I offer to send a representative sample of my work or indicate that I'll complete the test when I have time.
Kevin


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Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:06
German to English
+ ...
The customer wants to see for him/herself Jul 16, 2004

Milos Prudek wrote:

I receive maybe 1-3 new agency offers daily. Most of the time they require test translations, often quite lengthy - 300, 500 words. I would be employed full time and paid nothing if I did all these tests.

And I find it silly that I should do these tests after 15 years in translation business...

What stategy to choose?

- Should I offer to do only a part of the test (100 words?

- Should I offer to send a sample of my old translation?

- Should I send them my references instead?

The problem is when I select any of these alternatives I hardly ever hear from the agency again... is it because it's easier for them to move to another applicant and not waste their time with a "problematic" applicant that refuses to follow their standards? How do you deal with this situation?


Personally, I don't think 300 words is too much - I've done quite a few translations that were probably about that amount (but usually for existing customers for their end customers). At the end of the day, you have to weigh up whether it's worth it for you and whether you think the customer is reputable and makes a good impression (although this is sometimes hard to tell, lists like paymentpractices, etc. can help).

100 words is about a paragraph and you should take into account that the customer may need a bit more than that to see whether he likes your translation or not.

I don't see why they shouldn't accept a sample of your old translation, but sometimes they want tests for particular jobs on particular subjects and I guess if all other applicants agree to doing the test, they might not want to make an exception for you - it's not exactly fair.

I'm not sure references do the trick either - I think people tend to want to see for themselves and are sometimes reluctant to believe what others may think of your skills.

As for your 15 years - This may show that you have experience, but as I said the customer may want to see for themselves whether you have the right style for them, whether they like your translation and this is irrespective of the amount of years you've been on the scene. For example, if the text's target audience is young people, the customer may be better off choosing someone just starting out (who is more familiar with the target audience). Likewise, there are texts that may be better suited to older translators - I don't wish to generalise, but what I'm saying is that the number of years experience does not always play a role.

At the end of the day, you have to decide whether it's worth taking the time to do the text. I have done test translations before and they've resulted in a long-term cooperation, so that taking the time to do something for free really paid off.

All the best,

Sarah Downing




[Edited at 2004-07-16 12:34]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 14:06
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Don't bother! Jul 16, 2004

Most of these texts seem to be requests for free translations, and you never hear from these guys anymore. Agencies who really need you will phone and send real assignments.
Most of these outsourcers have not the slightest chance of verifying test-translations.


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Sormane Fitzgerald Gomes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:06
Member (2004)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
If you're not doing anything else, maybe. Jul 16, 2004

I'm sure you will hear different opinions on this.
I've done a few, received emails back telling me that I had passed the test with flying colors, etc, etc...but never heard from them again.
I'm sure there are exceptions. I've heard of translators developing great relationships because of a test (dealing directly with a client/company not an agency), but also have heard of translators having my kind of experience (most of them, I have to say).
I always offer samples and references. And in most cases, that seems to be enough.
If I have the time (which I usually don't) and feel that they are not abusive (more than a page long), I'll do them. But I wouldn't hold my breath.



[Edited at 2004-07-16 13:09]


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fsdfsdfsd sdfsdf
Luxembourg
Local time: 13:06
English to Latvian
+ ...
My opinion Jul 16, 2004

Hi Milos
as long as I have worked as freelacer I never make test translation, because it takes a lot of time and sometimes when I do theese tests offer never mail me again
Waste of time.
The offer needs to trust their freelancers

Aija




Milos Prudek wrote:

I receive maybe 1-3 new agency offers daily. Most of the time they require test translations, often quite lengthy - 300, 500 words. I would be employed full time and paid nothing if I did all these tests.

And I find it silly that I should do these tests after 15 years in translation business...

What stategy to choose?

- Should I offer to do only a part of the test (100 words?

- Should I offer to send a sample of my old translation?

- Should I send them my references instead?

The problem is when I select any of these alternatives I hardly ever hear from the agency again... is it because it's easier for them to move to another applicant and not waste their time with a "problematic" applicant that refuses to follow their standards? How do you deal with this situation?


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:06
German to English
+ ...
Long test translations Jul 16, 2004

Kfulton wrote:

(1) If I have initiated contact with the agency (which is rare), I complete the test immediately, since I am the one requesting consideration.


I think that's fair. I also think it's fair to do a shortish test in respect of a particular job that has to all intents and purposes been awarded, i.e. as a final check of the selected translator rather than as a means of selecting from a pool, or worse still, when there is no actual job on the table.

Marc


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xxxtazdog
Spain
Local time: 13:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
tests only in certain circumstances Jul 16, 2004

I'll only do a test translation if it's a) for a specific job, and b) no more than 300 words. If it's longer than 300 words, I tell the agency that I'll only translate part of it. I haven't had anyone object to that so far.

When I was starting out, I did just about every test translation I was asked to do. I can't remember a single one of the "generic" tests actually turning into work, so now I don't bother. If they want to see samples of my work, I can provide them, or they can look at the ones in my profile.


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Claudia Hill  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:06
English to German
+ ...
from the localisation company's point of view Jul 16, 2004

I can understand your concerns, however from the localisation company\\\'s point of view, even 15 years of freelance experience are not an indicator for good quality (no offence). Let me explain: Someone who has translated as a freelancer for a long time might have done most of the jobs for a client who didn\\\'t check the quality or who didn\\\'t give any feedback. That way you can\\\'t improve your quality at all. Also, bad habits might have formed over 15 years.

As an in-house translator with a lot of resourcing experience I can just say that I\\\'ll only trust people whose work has been evaluated by one of our in-house staff.
I would think that a localisation company that asks me to do a test has the right attitude towards quality, unlike an agency that just outsources without checking anything.
Any agency that uses freelance tests as a way to get free translations done is highly unprofessional in my view.


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:36
English to Tamil
+ ...
Do the test translation provided they pay you Jul 16, 2004

My regular client, who is an agency, asks me now and then to do tests, but right at the outset I made it clear to him that as far as he is concerned, he knows my capability and I need no longer prove anything to him. If his client doesn't want to pay him that is his problem. In fact he has to take the whole thing as an investment. And investment means spending some money. My client has agreed and there has been no problem since then on this account.

Regards,
N.Raghavan

[Edited at 2004-07-16 23:28]


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Jing Nie
China
Local time: 19:06
Member (2011)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I agree with Cindy Jul 17, 2004

I have had a very bad experience on PROZ.
I am a freelance in Shanghai,China. 3 months ago,I find on the PROZ that a company in US is searching for an English to Chinese translator for a medical project.The project is about 5,000 words.I send my CV to them and receive a test of about 1500 words!Although I hesitated for a moment , I completed the whole test on time.I get their reply a week later . They said that the translation had been assigned to another translator and I had passed the test and had been added into their database.

They never contact me again since then.


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Heidi Stone-Schaller  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:06
English to German
+ ...
Translations for free Jul 18, 2004

I totally believe that a lot of the time these really long test translations are just a sham. Like the one I did a little over a year ago for a publishing house, translating (silly me!) almost an entire chapter and not ever hearing from them again, even though I contacted them repeatedly and they had originally said they would definitely get back to me no matter if I got the job. Or the one that I'm supposed to do for an agency specializing in subtitles--this must be like 20 minutes of film and they didn't even bother to tell me what the film is about, so I have absolutely no clue what the people in the scene are talking about.

So, I surf the internet once in a while in search of past test translations of mine. I'm sure that with the novel I'll get lucky one day--a dime novel translated entirely by unsuspecting applicants for a job which, unwittingly, they were collectively getting done in the process!


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Heidi Stone-Schaller  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:06
English to German
+ ...
Compare to other professions Jul 18, 2004

By the way, it just occurred to me that this is another one of those cases where it's helpful to compare ourselves to other professions: Would you ask a lawyer to file the first suit for free before you decide to use him or her? Or a cleaning woman to clean your house free of charge the first time? Or even a babysitter? I think not.

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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:06
English to German
+ ...
Contact the Jobs moderators if you suspect fraudulent use of test translations Jul 18, 2004

Hi all,
I posted this in another thread, but I'll gladly repeat it here: should you suspect abuse of test translations regarding a job posted at ProZ.com, please don't hesitate to contact a Jobs moderator.

Best regards, Ralf


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:06
German to Italian
+ ...
Short test Jul 18, 2004

Kfulton wrote:

A *short* test (1 page or less), when used intelligently, can be a useful screening device for an agency. I've seen tests which included false cognates, typical stylistic problems, etc. which showed that the agency put some thought into the selection of text.



I couldn't agree more. I had to do a short test (max 100 words, I guess) before starting a long-term cooperation with a translation office, and although it was short it was perfect to evaluate the skills required for that kind of translation. Some other translators failed the test in spite of a long experience, probably in other fields.


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