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Thread poster: Sébastien Ricciardi

Sébastien Ricciardi  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:25
English to French
+ ...
Sep 10, 2008

Hi everyone,

I appeared in the translation business rather recently with strong language skills but very little knowledge about the world of translation itself. I have completed my profile trying to hide my lack of experience and promoting the skills. I have so far only gotten 2 contracts that I fulfilled with success (see the WWA entry) but I seem to have problems in catching client attention.

Here is my profile : http://www.proz.com/profile/887876

Please give me your comments about it and do not be afraid to be harsh.

Any comment is welcomed.

Sébastien


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Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:25
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
Hi Sébastien Sep 10, 2008

May I ask how you promote yourself other than your profile on proz? From your post, it sounds like you are not contacting any agencies or prospective clients. My point is that you do not get much work if you just wait to be contacted. You have to be out there, market yourself, and contact many agencies offering your services.

To me your profile looks fine. I am a bit confused about your text on Kudoz though - this info is not that interesting to prospective clients, it's mainly interesting for your peers. You should write more about what you can offer the client.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:25
Italian to English
+ ...
Errors in English Sep 10, 2008

1) Welcome to my profile (not "on")
2) English, Spanish etc. should always start with a capital letter (the French section also seems to be inconsistent here)


I'd also change the emphasis slightly - rather than saying "Before settling as translator, I studied engineering for many years including more than 3 years in an english environnment", why not say something like "my engineering experience in various countries and languages gives me a unique perspective and makes me the ideal choice for all your engineering translation needs" (I don't suggest you adopt this verbatim, by the way!) Your presence on Proz makes it obvious that you've become a translator - you don't need to spell it out or explain yourself.

Apart from that, I agree with Ivana - cut the bit about Kudoz, potential clients can look it up for themselves if they're interested. And make sure you're also marketing yourself elsewhere - send your resume out to potential clients, don't just wait for the work to roll in.


[Edited at 2008-09-10 15:26]


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Elena Robles Sanjuan  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:25
English to Spanish
Focus on the translation projects you´ve worked on Sep 10, 2008

Hi Sébastien,

I have just read your CV and looked at your profile. Since you asked for suggestions, I´d like to give you two:

+ You say that you have 1 year of experience in translation. If that is so, I think it´d be a good idea to explain to your customers what you´ve worked on, maybe offering a list of projects. In your cv, the gap between what you´ve worked on in the past and being a freelance translator is rather noticeable. The knowledge that you´ve acquired by studying and working in technical/scientific environments is fundamental, but you have to sell your translation abilities better. It´s just a case of telling others with more detail that some clients think you´re great. Customers don´t always read too deeply into CVs. They want the information fast.

+ I don´t want to doubt your abilities, but, how´s it possible to offer interpreting, subtitling and voiceover services with just one year of translation experience?. I think it´d be wiser if you acquired more experience in translation and then moved on to other services. Interpreting is a world apart from translation. I´d never try my hand at it if I wasn´t fully qualified.


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Sébastien Ricciardi  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:25
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Sep 10, 2008

Ivana Friis Wilson wrote:

From your post, it sounds like you are not contacting any agencies or prospective clients.

I am a bit confused about your text on Kudoz though - this info is not that interesting to prospective clients, it's mainly interesting for your peers. You should write more about what you can offer the client.


Hi Ivana, thank you for this insightful comment. You are absolutely right, I am not contacting any agency or so and to be perfectly honest this is because I dont know where to look for. From now I'll focus more on that aspect, I guess typing "translation agency" in Google would be a good start.

I see the KudoZ part as a way to say : "hi, I have no experience but I am able and here is the proof". You say those are more interesting for the peers, why is that ?

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:
....



Thank you for pointing out the few mistakes and suggesting a more marketing rephrasal. I am actually considering to write your sentence in the profile (or with slight changes) !


Elena Robles Sanjuan wrote:

+ You say that you have 1 year of experience in translation.



+ I don´t want to doubt your abilities, but, how´s it possible to offer interpreting, subtitling and voiceover services with just one year of translation experience?.


Well, the first translation I did was for a friend promoting her family business. This was in 2007, so it is actually 1 year from the start, not 1 year experience in translation: maybe I should change that. This is actually when I started to think about coming to the business. However I really started this seriously this July.

About interpreting : I see your point. I know I can do it from English to French and vice-versa in my field of expertise so I consider it is do-able with some field-specific preparation, what are your views on that ?
For the other pair, you are right and I will delete it

Voiceover : you're totally right, I'll delete it

Subtitling : I can do those.


More comments are still welcomed


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 10:25
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
My two cents Sep 10, 2008

Nice pic for the purpose, though you might want to straighten your tie

You claim some pretty good technical specialties. You might want to post more samples of your translations in those areas. Although I am also a martial arts enthusiast, I'm not sure that most of your potential customers will connect well with a translation sample about nunchaku. Add examples for materials, engineering and chemistry. If you can do these areas well, you should be able to get decent rates.

Speaking of rates, yours seem awfully low. Yes, I know your experience is limited, but if I see someone who doesn't know enough to set a reasonable rate, I question his or her competence and potential clients may do so too. Find out what the average rates are in your pairs and charge at least that if not MORE. Your technical disciplines are not run-of-the-mill, cheap translation subjects. Use this to your financial advantage. Try doubling your rates for a start and then work your tail off to earn those rates, hiring an experienced translator to review your work if you have to. Including professional review is a selling point.

Under software you don't list anything suitable for software localization. Put Wordfast in a more prominent position; as a CAT tool, it is more relevant to your profession. In fact, you might think about ordering that software list in some way that emphasizes function of software suites (all the MS Office apps together, for instance - BTW, PowerPoint is written with mixed case).

You might want to consider emphasizing the language pairs in which you translate into your native language. I don't want to ignite the age-old debate about "native speakers" by saying this, but I think if you focus on fewer combinations and what you do best you might get farther faster.


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Elena Robles Sanjuan  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:25
English to Spanish
An interpreter´s opinion would be best, but... Sep 11, 2008

Sébastien Ricciardi wrote:

However I really started this seriously this July.

About interpreting : I see your point. I know I can do it from English to French and vice-versa in my field of expertise so I consider it is do-able with some field-specific preparation, what are your views on that ?
More comments are still welcomed


Let´s see if I can make my point clear. I have randomly taken some examples of tasks that are typically required when interpreting:

+ assimilating speakers' words quickly, including jargon and acronyms;
+ analysing sentences expressed in one language and explaining them using another language;
+ using technology to extract specialist vocabulary and build up specialist vocabulary banks;
+ writing notes to aid memory;
+ using microphones and headsets;
+ preparing paperwork - considering agendas before meetings, or lectures/speeches when received in advance;
+ organising workload and liaising with internal departments, agencies and/or employers.

In order to do all that and more, I don´t think the "I know I can do it" statement is enough. For years, I have been "interpreting" for my English in-laws whenever they came to Spain. Does that qualify me as an interpreter?. I don´t think so.

Think as a client: what would you expect from a professional if you were to give them an assignment?. They know they can do what you ask, but, is that enough to convince you?

I don´t want to be so negative, but I believe you´re being overoptimistic about your abilities. Stick with what you have already done and can prove and make the best of it.


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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:25
Member
French to English
+ ...
Rates Sep 11, 2008

Dear Sébastien,

Like Kevin, I find your rates quite low for EN-FR. Although not familiar with Swedish to French, I imagine that there are even fewer translators in this pair and so rates may be even higher than average EN-FR rates.

Your target of 15€ per hour will barely earn you minimum wage once you have paid taxes in France. Do not forget about taxes and also business investments, marketing, etc. when establishing your rates. You may find the Proz Rate Calculator to be a useful tool.

If you are confident in your translation abilities, don't undersell yourself - you won't do yourself or the profession any favours.

Good luck,
Jocelyne


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:25
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Use ProZ to find agencies Sep 11, 2008

Sébastien Ricciardi wrote:

I am not contacting any agency or so and to be perfectly honest this is because I dont know where to look for. From now I'll focus more on that aspect, I guess typing "translation agency" in Google would be a good start.



You can do much better than that, Sébastien. You can search the outsourcers' directory here on the ProZ site, selecting those that work in the languages and areas you specialise in, and restricting your contacts to those with good Blue Board records.


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CFK TRAD  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:25
English to French
+ ...
Add samples in highly technical fields Sep 12, 2008

Kevin Lossner wrote:

You claim some pretty good technical specialties.
dd examples for materials, engineering and chemistry. If you can do these areas well, you should be able to get decent rates. [/quote]

Definitely !
Dear Sébastien, I have read through your profile both as a fellow, and as someone who has just started running a Translation Office of her own.

I would surely call you for a translation in sports, but as I don't have a sample as for technical translation, I'm afraid few translation agencies would call you for a technical EN-FR translation.

And, if you're not accredited to translate for the CIO, or the PSG/OM, you won't be called. There are too few requests as for sport-related translations.

On the other hand, apart from your dissertation (samples of which are translated into Swedish), you don't provide technical samples at all.

What I would do, if I were you, is to go to Wikipedia, take one paper on a technical topic (whatever it is: nuclear, chemistry, etc), written in English, and put the translation in French.
Then, do exactly the same from Swedish into French.

Consider adding your profile onto other websites (TranslatorsCafé, Language Team, etc). Most of them propose free membership (though the functionality are limited).

As for your rates : from a theoretical point of view, I would fully concur with other post-writters and say "wow, they're much too low !!". But, when I started creating my database, and started writing potential adds, I received numerous offers from translators with a PhD, including in Physics, quoting at 0.08 USD/source word. They're not in India, they're in the USA, the UK, Italy, France, etc.

And many direct clients are reluctant to pay more than 0.08 EUR per source word to the translation agency for EN-FR, enven technical (I missed a contract this morning when I made it clear that I would not have my translator work for less than 0.08 EUR, which means that I would be paid 0.09 EUR, and I'm proud to have missed the contract, instead of treating translators as slaves).

What I have done, when I started as a translator, was to quote at 0.08 (I have 2 PhDs); I started asking for more when I already had several Translation agencies which worked with me on a regular basis.

Be aware that you'll go through 2 or 3 hard years. It's difficult to get clients. But once you've got them, if you provide them with top quality translations, you just don't have to bid for any contract onto Proz, or onto whatever. You just have to open your mailbox or answer the phone... It takes 2 years and it really works.

But please, provide us with samples of technical translations, show what you can do, be more telling on your technical capacities.

"Optics" will mean "lunettes ou lentilles de contact" for many translation agencies. Explain what it is.
I have a doubt on the keywords on your profile... Maybe you should dwell on them...

Consider also having your own website, use Video, Facebook, etc.
Get a network ! (there's a Chambre de Commerce in Toulouse !!)

Bon week-end !

Coralie.


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Sébastien Ricciardi  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:25
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What I've done Sep 16, 2008

Thank you to all of you for those precious comments.

If I have been silent for a few days, it is because I have focused in doing drastic changes thanks to those.

I created a new thread for the new profile, take a look at

http://www.proz.com/forum/translation_theory_and_practice/115532-profile_feedback_after_massive_modifications.html

Many thanks once more.

On a side note and on the subject of interpretating, I would like to say that I disagree with Elena though :
- All the thing you note are completely relevant, they also appear quite natural to me
- I am in string disagreement with that quote :
"Stick with what you have already done and can prove and make the best of it".
If I had stick to what I could do, I wouldnt have left my country, wouldnt have learnt 4 languages, wouldnt have met the one that is my girlfriend today (and wouldn't "interpretating" for my in-laws, wouldnt be a translator today.

I believe it is by getting out of one's comfort zone that we can evolve and improve ourselves. And of course, in order to succeed that takes a lot of hard work, but I am not afraid by that :
if I need to spend 3 entire days before a conference where I am interpreter to learn the specific vocabulary on the X topic, I will do so, because I chose to go there, because the client chose me to be there and because I'll do everything in my power to make the client satisfied that he chose me for the simple reason that I don't want to disappoint people who give me an opportunity.


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