Since I had started at the proz.com, and sometimes the testing process takes more energy, as these are generally around 250 words and widely varying type and further there is no pay in them. At the proz.com there is a Portfolio, where one could upload sample translations, which I did for some time periodically, but the wide variety of texts and the concentration areas of various agencies, it is very difficult to give a universal sample that fits all. But initially till one has regular customers some amount of testing would be necessary. Additionally, I feel if you set your base price too low, the agencies get sceptical about your quality translation, further to the personnel shift in the agencies leads to another new get to know process. So either way doing the tests is inevitable. But one must know also how far one can go with the testing process. A polite no or polite quotation " every word beyond 50 words or 250 words will be set in invoice" also can help, or you can also offer a dozen various tests you have already done earlier, fitting the test area for sampling purpose. Many agencies do not accept it, but that is a good alternative. I had a few situations where the tests were longer than 1200 words, then I had to request the agency to compress the text in a manner, to reach around 250 words not losing the content. Naturally they never came back, and I knew they wouldn´t come back. This area has become more of a buyer´s market. Keep up your patience and stamina above all clear head.
Igor Sharshakov wrote:
Here are some opinions of prominent translators quoted by Pavel Protopopov,
Certified Russian translator:
" The whole situation is ludicrous. If you were going to contract a builder to build you a house would you ask them to build you a garage for free as a test of their competence? I think the answer you would receive would be far from pleasant."
Stephen Hernandez, UK
"One usually-effective response, when asked to do a "short and simple" test translation, is to offer, instead, to provide the names and contact data of satisfied previous clients and customers.
If that does not suffice for that interested agency, you're better off without their business."
Regards from Los Angeles,
Stephen H. Franke, Arabic, Kurdish and Persian-Farsi - languages
"I never EVER do freebies. In any case I resent the implication that my time is not worth money....! Any serious company should pay you for a test piece, however short. If you tell them this, and they still won't agree to pay you, don't do it, would be my advice..."
"In fact, any serious translation company would NOT ask for a sample piece. They prove absolutely nothing. We have had this discussion before but I venture to assert from my 40 years experience as a translator, 10 of them running my own company, that they are useless and they are only used by agencies that know very little about translation, though French agencies seem to use them as a matter of routine, probably the copycat syndrome."
American Pie/ Pholiota Translations
"I must say that I have spent a lot of time doing translation tests for mainly French agencies, but I have received only one answer (positive) to them; from that one (positive, I insist!) answerer, I have never received a translation request. My test seems to have been forgotten in the bottom of some drawer. All the clients I have found in France were sent by a fellow translator to me, or found me on the Internet or elsewhere when they desperately needed someone to do an urgent translation and came back to me as they were happy with the first job I delivered them. So now, I doubt a lot of the efficiency of translation tests as a way to attract new clients, and free tests are not my priority since they yielded so little for me..."
Xavier PITEL, EGUILLES - France
Translations from GB and IT into FR
"I have to agree that in my 25 years at this [and I am still a translator as well as an agency owner] I also cannot remember having obtained new clients by means of tests, with the exception of literary/publication type texts in a competition situation [best of 3]."
Advanced Linguistic Services - France
"I, too, have never gotten work through tests, and I refuse to do tests. If an agency is still not quite sure about me, I invite them to give me a small job (paid, of course) to see for themselves. There are many short texts to go around, and agencies should be smart enough to use them to "test" potential translators (and they should pay them!). There is simply way too much abuse out there: one agency once tried to distribute a whole document among several translators, masking the whole thing as a "test", just to get a free translation - and there are plenty more examples like that."
"Our less experienced colleagues will have noticed recent postings from experienced translators who have agreed to take tests only to find that they are never given the results of these tests and never hear from the agency again. I had made it my rule never to take tests and I foolishly broke it recently during a quiet period. I never heard from the two agencies again, not even regarding the test results. There is one large agency that routinely makes people do tests because they want to use very young, badly-paid project managers and think that making everyone do a test is a guarantee that they will not have any problems with their translations. That is rubbish, of course. I have twice refused to do a test for these people who were apparently desperate for Hebrew-English translators. There are a million reasons for not taking a test (subject matter usually outside one's field, badly designed test, one does not know who is doing the marking, etc.) but the best one of all is that it is a complete waste of the translator's time and there is no guarantee that however brilliant the result one will ever get used. In effect, it is slave labour."
American Pie/ Pholiota Translations
"As to translation tests, I did a few of them some years back and I did not get any jobs from the agencies I did these tests for, even though the ones that (much) later finally replied had said that the test was favourable.
I then decided that I would not ever again do any tests and I have only broken that rule twice since, and both were tests made for a specific large project with a sample text that actually matched the subject. In both those occasions I first had a discussion on the phone with the project manager. The difference here was that the project managers already promised me the job on the condition that I could demonstrate that I could handle the specific type of text and format.
I did get those two projects, and more later on."
From the article by Andrei Gerasimov:
"...in my humble opinion, this approach - I mean test translations - is intrinsically wrong for a number of reasons:
1) The word count of some test translations exceeds a reasonable figure, so such tests sometimes look like a lame attempt to get a free translation.
2) No reference material normally provided to ensure consistency of terminology is sent. A client considers the translation to be good when the translator uses terminology this client is used to. This is especially important when the target language is Russian since various companies/clients in this country use different terminology.
3) There is no context. When translating a highly technical document, in many cases it is impossible to ensure meaning-based translation when only a short excerpt, detached from a complete document, is available.
4) The translator is not told to what audience the text is addressed. This is a serious disadvantage since many technical terms are translated differently depending on who the end user is. A service technician in car shop uses special terminology different from the terminology used by a reporter of an automotive magazine or by a car owner. This difference should be taken into account by the translator, who should always know for whom the translation is intended.
5) A test translation tells nothing about the translator's actual qualifications because any rookie can hire a seasoned ace to do or edit the test translation.
6) And the most important reason is an ethical problem - I would call it "who are the judges"? Usually the evaluation is done by the unsuspecting applicant's direct competitor! This situation undoubtedly affects the evaluation process at a conscious or subconscious level."