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Bilingual vs. Trilingual - difference in salary?
Thread poster: Crystal Samples

Crystal Samples  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:46
French to English
+ ...
Aug 27, 2004

Hello,

I'd like to ask you guys' opinion on a work related matter. I recently was hired as an administrative assistant for a shipbuilding company because they are starting a new branch in Mexico and need another Spanish speaker in the office. My official title is "Bilingual Administrative Assistant".

My problem is this. The company is aware that I also speak French (this is in fact my stronger language), so If I were ever called on to translate from French to English on a regular basis, I would think that my job title would need to be changed from "Bilingual" to "Trilingual Administrative Assistant", thus an increase in salary might be required.

My questions are 1.) how much of a salary increase should I ask for (I was thinking along the lines of 25-30%) and 2.) when should I ask for these amendments to my description and salary? after a few translations or after a few months?

The company has never said anything about using me for French. However, from what I know of the corporate world, I think this would be a definite possibility that I should be prepared for.

I'd appreciate you sharing your thoughts and opinions on this matter. ¿Qué opinan ustedes? Qu'en pensez-vous?



[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2004-08-27 11:48]

[Edited at 2004-08-27 17:00]


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xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 20:46
French to English
+ ...
markets differ Aug 27, 2004

If this were Europe, I would say that you had blown your chances. You would have been far better sorting all this out before you took the job and negotiating your salary accordingly. Employers tend to think they own you, once you've signed on the dotted line.
Good luck anyway but don't start mentally spending the money in advance.
Sorry to be negative - just realistic


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nothing
Local time: 19:46
English to Spanish
+ ...
- Aug 27, 2004

I am not sure if my advice will be any good for you, as I don't know much about working in America.
Here, when you apply for a job you get a job description. If this is the case and using French was not included in your job description, you can ask for separate payment for that type of work if is a one-off or for a new contract (obviously with a higher salary and a new job title) if you are going to use French regularly.

If this is not possible, look elsewhere! The days of sticking with the same job for years are over.


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:46
Check with the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City Aug 27, 2004

A long time ago, I worked for them. At that time, local employees got a 5% bonus on their salary if they spoke English, and a 10% bonus if they spoke English, and French. It is my understanding that this practice continues up to date. You could also try to find out what are the practices of the EU office in Mexico, and other similar international institutions. Regards.

[Edited at 2004-08-27 14:21]


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 19:46
See how it goes first Aug 27, 2004

You were hired for a specific set of skills, the company knows you offer another language skill, but there is (so far) no need for it. As you say your French is stronger, maybe you should use this opportunity to bring your Spanish up and beyond the same level.

If an opportunity for French were to arise, then you could make your mark then, and they would not need to hire a French speaker. In that case, you should be able to negotiate a compromise.

My 2 cents.

Orla


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:46
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Jumping the gun Aug 27, 2004

I think you are jumping the gun. Since you have not been asked to translate anything into or from French and you don't even know if you ever will, a salary increase would not be justified at this time. Wait till it happens and then bring up the matter of a salary increase with your company. I am just guessing but 25-30% seems way to much. A 5-10% increase would be more realistic.

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Crystal Samples  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:46
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
you're right Aug 27, 2004

I admit, Tina, that I am jumping the gun a bit. But I had no intention talking about a salary increase any time soon. I was just thinking ahead as to what COULD happen. I mean, it does happen fairly often in the corporate world for you to be asked to do things outside of your job description. I'm just trying to gather some opinions on what you think another language combination would be worth salary-wise.

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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:16
English to Tamil
+ ...
Keep ready a well thought out plan Aug 28, 2004

I was employed as an electrical engineer cum French translator for 12 years. My employer knew that I was proficient in German too. In fact my immediate superior once asked me to translate a piece of product literature from German into English. I politely told him that he would have to pay me separately on the basis of a word rate and that was that. I didn't do it.

At the first demand just say that you are not employed as French translator. You cannot be forced to do it. Then if the demand is a steady one, the employer will advertise the vacancy. Some salary will be offered. At that point of time, you can offer to take up the additional charge against a salary increase, which represents around 60% of the salary offered to new recruits. The employer may haggle and you can settle for 50%. Even then the employer saves a lot of money, because a full-time employee costs a company much more than his salary in the form of leave salary, medical reimbursements, holiday travel, provident fund contribution and so on. By roping you in for just 50% of the new proposed salary, he saves a lot of money. Hence never accept less than 50%.

Once you keep the contingency plan ready, you will not have any unpleasant surprises. I only hope that you had not at anytime during your original recruitment mentioned in writing that you will offer your French proficiency free of cost, should the company ask for it in future.

And keep doing translations on the side during your free time to keep up your French skills. Take care to keep both the activities well separated and don't let even your best friend (especially the best friend) know what you are doing. I did that during my full-time employment using not only my French skill but also the German one. When after I took voluntary retirement and became a full-time freelancer, I was queried about getting the employer's permission for the side business during my employment with him, I replied firmly that I didn't ask for permission as it was certain that permission would be refused and further I felt strongly that it was none of my employer's business as to what I did in my leisure time.

Regards,
N.Raghavan


[Edited at 2004-08-28 08:59]


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:46
German to English
+ ...
Food for thought... :-) Sep 2, 2004

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
I politely told him that he would have to pay me separately on the basis of a word rate and that was that. I didn't do it.


I agree with Narasimhan that this is the way to go...

I don't work full time as a translator. My employers often think that they can get free translation services, though I was hired for a completely different line of work. Narasimhan's answer has alwasy been my answer too - but I did do it and got paid extra for it. You could, however, cut a deal with them and give them translation services for a bit less than you would charge otherwise.

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
At the first demand just say that you are not employed as French translator. You cannot be forced to do it.


True, true... but check your employment agreement to be sure - and read the fine print. Does it say "translation from LANGUAGE to LANGUAGE" or just "translation"? It could make a difference.

Your title usually has nothing to do with your pay. I find it surprising that your title even contains the word "bilingual". How about "multilingual" or just "cool"?

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
...he saves a lot of money. Hence never accept less than 50%.


I don't know about this one. Yes, the employer would obviously save a heap of money having you do both jobs. On the other hand, you'd have to be pretty darn valuable before any of the many employers that I know would give you a raise of 25-30%, let alone 50%. The raise of 5-10% is usually the most one can hope for. I have actually received higher raises, but I also knew that absolutely needed me and they knew they were not paying enough and that I was about to leave - which brings me to my last point: If I felt I were being taken advantage of, I would consider going - I see no reason why "trilinguals" should have any difficulties finding ways of occupying themselves.

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
Take care to keep both the activities well separated and don't let even your best friend (especially the best friend) know what you are doing. ...and further I felt strongly that it was none of my employer's business as to what I did in my leisure time.


...or you could be up front and honest about it (which is usually a good option): Tell your employer that you enjoy translating and would like to continue to hone your skills by translating in your free time. I've never once encountered an employer that even had the slightest problem with that - employers are "go-getters" too. They know what's up, that one should constantly improve one's own position... It's all a matter of how you package it for your future employer. And that way, you'll (probably) have less problems and more freedom in the long run.


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:16
English to Tamil
+ ...
Being upfront is not without risks Sep 4, 2004

Had I been upfront in my case, I would have been confronted with the following:
I was in a semi-government service. Service rules indicated that I am not supposed to take up extra work as I am considered to be on-duty all the 24 hours. Even if permission were granted, it was subject to my paying the government one third of my extra earnings. I was not enamored of that. At least in my case there was no other go but to do clandestine work. This led to an amusing situation. I was employed as electrical engineer cum French translator. After two years there were no longer any translation assignments but engineering work was there. At the end of my 9th year a Frenchman visited our factory and stayed for 21 days. I was his interpreter. The chief executive was pleasantly surprised to hear me speak fluent French with the visitor. He wondered how I maintained contact with French, given the fact that there were no French jobs worth the name for 7 years. I just made vague reference to being a voracious reader of French books. There the matter rested.

Regards,
N.Raghavan
Derek Gill wrote:

...or you could be up front and honest about it (which is usually a good option): Tell your employer that you enjoy translating and would like to continue to hone your skills by translating in your free time. I've never once encountered an employer that even had the slightest problem with that - employers are "go-getters" too. They know what's up, that one should constantly improve one's own position... It's all a matter of how you package it for your future employer. And that way, you'll (probably) have less problems and more freedom in the long run.


[Edited at 2004-09-04 09:01]


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