Off topic: To test or not to test? That is the question!
Thread poster: Maria Luisa Duarte

Maria Luisa Duarte  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:56
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Dec 29, 2003

The questions on people's minds appear to be:

Question 1: Are agencies giving out parts of a large job disguised as a test to many different translators in the hope of getting it translated for free?

Short answer 1: Not unless they're stupid AND crazy.

Question 2: Why haven't I had any work yet - I sent the test back 3 months ago?

Short answer 2: Because either they haven't had anything in your subject and language combination yet or maybe you're not their first choice translator.

Every summer (as a freelancer) I pick up a few new clients when other translators are on holiday - they usually tell you "the person we usually use is on holiday are you available?" This is a fantastic opportunity! I make a point of giving them extra special attention and they nearly always use my services again because I keep them happy.

My opinion on tests is that some agencies really do need them to avoid giving work to translators who simply aren't good enough. I suggest that you adopt some or all of the following which will give you some protection:

a) Don't do more than you feel comfortable with. A lot of people have suggested a limit of 200 or 300 words. I think you have to be a bit flexible rather than set a specific limit. 2000 words is definitely excessive. If it "feels" right and you really think there might be a large job in the pipeline, and you're not busy at the moment, what have you got to lose if you do 500 or 700 words? We're all in business and business involves balancing risk against reward. But do trust your instinctive "gut feeling". When I go against my instincts I usually regret it. If you don't like the people you're dealing with or it doesn't "feel" right it's your instincts telling you to beware. Ignore them at your peril!

b) Don't prioritise a test above paid work even if the customer is saying it could lead to a huge job - I'm sure we've all heard that one a hundred times! Service your existing customers first - then you're more likely to keep them!

c) Try to avoid doing a test if it is required by a certain deadline, or at least tell them that you can't guarantee it by a certain deadline because you've got a lot of work on at the moment. This will flush out those who are trying to get a small job done for free. If the agency needs to test you under pressure and you are busy you could always arrange a date in the near future for them to send you a short test at a more convenient time.

d) Some people advocate ending a test mid-sentence and this would be OK as long as you explain in a non-accusing way - before you do the test.

e) A general translation test that an agency might send you when you first apply is usually not needed back by a certain time. Tests for particular jobs are obviously required fairly quickly but you can ask to have the evaluation back equally quickly. You are also more likely to be given these kinds of tests by clients you already know and trust.

f) You could always offer to send the names of a few client references or samples of previously completed work instead of a test. A lot of good agencies will like this approach because it may mean they can call someone they have heard of and find out you are a good translator in this subject and language combination - without having to spend money on testing you!

Best regards and happy translating, also all the best for 2004.

MLD


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 01:56
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Never got any client through a test Dec 29, 2003

I sometimes do tests when I have nothing else to do and the subject seems interesting. But all my clients have come without tests, some put forward small paid jobs first, but when they're in need they have no time for real testing. One should avoid agencies who want unpaid test-translations.

Direct link Reply with quote
 
Karin Adamczyk  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:56
Member
French to English
Does not apply to all Dec 29, 2003

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

I sometimes do tests when I have nothing else to do and the subject seems interesting. But all my clients have come without tests, some put forward small paid jobs first, but when they're in need they have no time for real testing. One should avoid agencies who want unpaid test-translations.


Two of my largest (and I mean large) agency customers gave me tests before they accepted me as a regular translator. One only has one location, but has some very well-known clients in my field; the other is international and I receive inquiries from many of their offices.

FWIW,
Karin Adamczyk


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Basic Instinct Dec 29, 2003

Maria Luisa Duarte wrote:
... But do trust your instinctive "gut feeling". When I go against my instincts I usually regret it. If you don't like the people you're dealing with or it doesn't "feel" right it's your instincts telling you to beware. Ignore them at your peril! ...

I would include the emotionally "acquired preferences" in here, but as long as you don't have to handle extreme circumstances they are feeling nearly the same

Anyway, I would like to confirm your point with three reasons:

1) Instincts are right in most cases
(i.e., a little bit better than 50%; the remaining percentage being the only reason why we need our brains)

2) Your will is your heaven
It is a self-fullfilling prophecy (-> very reliable) that you will enjoy what you want.

3) personal experience

And thank you for your concise, mind refreshing essay


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Сергей Лузан
Russian Federation
Local time: 01:56
German to Russian
+ ...
Tests ( To test or not to test? That is the question!) Dec 31, 2003

Maria Luisa Duarte wrote:

The questions on people's minds appear to be:

Question 1: Are agencies giving out parts of a large job disguised as a test to many different translators in the hope of getting it translated for free?
You could always offer to send the names of a few client references or samples of previously completed work instead of a test. A lot of good agencies will like this approach MLD

Tests longer than a paragraph are just suspicious.
We've got proz profiles to present ourselves.
Samples can be easily sent.
Happy New Year!


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Fernanda Rocha[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

To test or not to test? That is the question!

Advanced search






Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »
Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums