Working with colleagues
Thread poster: Mario Chavez (X)

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jan 2

We independent translators like to remain independent, do our thing. I had to learn that from scratch from my New York days decades ago. At the same time, I found myself in many situations that allowed and called for collaboration with colleagues near and far, from the incidental assignment to proofread a fellow translator's translation to check for typos alongside her to setting up a team of translators for a video patent (early 1990s).

Having developed as a translator in the Big Apple, calling on, or being called on by, colleagues was the most natural thing. The progression from proofreader to editor to translator was largely a straight line in those days. Being a member of the local chapter or association of translators was not just a psychological shot in the arm but a professional one as well as my circle of mutual influence kept growing into more colleagues I worked with or knew pretty well, as well as sharing clients.

Fast forward 20-something years, in Ohio, and the picture is quite different…and stark by comparison. There is no such collaboration or collegiality. And not for lack of trying. I was a NOTA member for years, and I let my membership lapse because I needed to refocus my priorities. I was looking at a 2012 or 2014 NOTA directory last night and saw many names, many specialists, and never once we had a chance to meet for a collaboration, to ask or be asked for it.

The one brilliant exception was a fellow Spanish translator who knew how to reach out to colleagues. She had met me in person in 2011 during a NOTA conference. The encounter seemed perfunctory, even trivial by appearance, but then at least three clients (two of which I still work with) were due to her recommending me to them. Her clients.

I've had opportunities to recommend colleagues to my clients as well. But these efforts have failed to multiply. It should be a virtuous circle: you recommend someone and they in turn recommend you to someone else. Networks grow, jobs appear, new clients are established. For whatever reasons, that circle has been broken in some areas of my country.

Have you experienced something similar?


 

Kristina Cosumano  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:11
Member (2015)
German to English
It still happens Jan 4

There is a lot of collaboration happening in various Facebook groups these days.

 

ahartje
Portugal
Local time: 17:11
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Of course it happens nowadays Jan 4

But the sticking point isn´t a certain membership or country. To recommend a colleague you have to know her/his proven abilities within the requested area, her/his reliabilty of keeping deadlines and observing all given instructions/TM´s/TB´s and finally you have to sympathize with her/him for quite some time.
By recommending a colleague to one of my clients I take the fall for this person, with all its risks.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
I don't do referrals Jan 4

How do you know whether someone is any good?

Soon after I turned freelance, I had a very technical job in from a customer that I couldn't do myself but didn't want to turn down. So I sent it to my old in-house boss, a greatly experienced, highly renowned, widely published and generally god-like technical translator. I had to pay three times what they used to pay me (!) but I thought it would be worth it.

Only he did me a really terrible job. Misunderstandings, typos, bad writing, the works. I had to completely redo what he'd done.

Which goes to show that even people you think will be good may not be. And my experience from employing and vetting numerous other translators since has taught me that HARDLY ANYONE OUT THERE IS ANY GOOD.

So I'm not recommending anyone to anybody.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:11
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
I don't agree Chris! Jan 4

I know the translators I recommend are good because they are mostly translators I used to work with in-house.

Of course anyone can have a bad day. I remember one translator's bad Christmas where she ended up in hospital and her daughter sent in a "rough" copy of a job I'd sent her, with a message to the effect that her mother would only bill 50% of her usual rate because she hadn't finished.

I checked everything much more carefully than usual but still only changed one term in about ten pages. So I called to say she should jolly well bill as usual. Even with the closer inspection, I still spent less time on proofreading her work than for other translators.

This translator later asked if I could write a recommendation, she was applying to a European institution for an in-house job. Of course I wrote a glowing recommendation, further to which the HR manager at the institution called me because it sounded too good to be true. No, she really is that good and you'd be a fool not to hire her, just as I'm a fool for telling you how good she is because once you've hired her I won't be able to send her work any more.

There really are some great translators out there. It's just that nobody ever asks us to proofread their work!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:11
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
All I'll do is suggest names of possible suppliers Jan 4

Chris S wrote:
How do you know whether someone is any good?

Exactly. You can't know that until after the fact.

If I can't do a particular job and the client asks if I can help, I'll come up with a few names. But I make it clear that I'm just saying that they appear to me to be serious, educated people - not spammers or scammers, at any rate icon_wink.gif. But I don't know whether they're available, whether they'll do a good and timely job, or what their terms are, so it isn't a recommendation or a referral; it's just a suggestion.


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
One bad apple? Jan 4

Chris S wrote:

How do you know whether someone is any good?

Soon after I turned freelance, I had a very technical job in from a customer that I couldn't do myself but didn't want to turn down. So I sent it to my old in-house boss, a greatly experienced, highly renowned, widely published and generally god-like technical translator. I had to pay three times what they used to pay me (!) but I thought it would be worth it.

Only he did me a really terrible job. Misunderstandings, typos, bad writing, the works. I had to completely redo what he'd done.

Which goes to show that even people you think will be good may not be. And my experience from employing and vetting numerous other translators since has taught me that HARDLY ANYONE OUT THERE IS ANY GOOD.

So I'm not recommending anyone to anybody.


I'd like to think that your decision not to recommend anyone is based on a number of bad cases, not just this one.


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Referrals vs. recommendations Jan 4

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Chris S wrote:
How do you know whether someone is any good?

Exactly. You can't know that until after the fact.

If I can't do a particular job and the client asks if I can help, I'll come up with a few names. But I make it clear that I'm just saying that they appear to me to be serious, educated people - not spammers or scammers, at any rate icon_wink.gif. But I don't know whether they're available, whether they'll do a good and timely job, or what their terms are, so it isn't a recommendation or a referral; it's just a suggestion.


Referrals are a different matter in my view. A recommendation has a more personal touch because we are more invested in that person, whether he or she is a friend who happens to be a competent colleague, or vice versa.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
confused.com Jan 4

Mario Chavez wrote:
I'd like to think that your decision not to recommend anyone is based on a number of bad cases, not just this one.


That'll be why I said "And my experience from employing and vetting numerous other translators since has taught me that HARDLY ANYONE OUT THERE IS ANY GOOD."

But what interests me here is how this collaborative love-in is supposed to work.

To know whether another translator is any good, they need to be working in the same languages and field as you. Which makes them a competitor. Why would you refer people to a competitor?

And how often do you actually get to assess the work of your peers anyway? Never, in my case.


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, confused.com it is Jan 4

I suppose it depends on how you were raised, the place you started working as a translator, proofreader or reviewer, and with whom you started working as such. Maybe it was part luck, part attitude in my case. My first client was the product of a Russian translator recommending me as a proofreader to that client.

Did this Russian translator know my Spanish writing or proofreading skills? No. He recommended me because he took a leap of faith and knew my name from other people in our local translators chapter. That was the luck part.

The attitude part: I honored his recommendation by working diligently at this first assignment, which brought more assignments and my first lengthy specialized job in translation: food additives, 9,000 words. But this first translation job didn't come from the Russian translator's client but from the latter's competitor in the same building (they were typesetting houses in midtown Manhattan).

To say that “hardly anyone out there is any good” is a jaded, almost cynical statement in my view. But we are mostly the result of our own experiences, aren't we?


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Facebook groups Jan 4

Kristina Cosumano wrote:

There is a lot of collaboration happening in various Facebook groups these days.


I'm happy to hear that some translators find good collaboration experiences through Facebook groups. I left Facebook two years ago because that social medium is not for me.


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:11
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Maybe cynical and ungenerous, but... Jan 4

Though such a view might strike many as cynical and ungenerous, I can see Chris’ point here. The only real basis for making a referral would be your direct experience of working with someone, and such experience should be clearly stated. The more such direct experience, the better the grounds for the referral.

This is why, when Facebook introduced its “endorsements,” I did not give out too many (even if this meant not reciprocating those I had received).


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:11
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
This is a sound aporoach Jan 4

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Chris S wrote:
How do you know whether someone is any good?

Exactly. You can't know that until after the fact.

If I can't do a particular job and the client asks if I can help, I'll come up with a few names. But I make it clear that I'm just saying that they appear to me to be serious, educated people - not spammers or scammers, at any rate icon_wink.gif. But I don't know whether they're available, whether they'll do a good and timely job, or what their terms are, so it isn't a recommendation or a referral; it's just a suggestion.


I also have done this, and it strikes me as a sound approach.


 

Romina Eva Pérez Escorihuela
Argentina
Local time: 13:11
Member (2010)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My experience in referrals as an interpreter... Jan 4

[quote]Mario Chavez wrote:

Did this Russian translator know my Spanish writing or proofreading skills? No. He recommended me because he took a leap of faith and knew my name from other people in our local translators chapter. That was the luck part.

The attitude part: I honored his recommendation by working diligently at this first assignment, which brought more assignments [quote]

As a conference interpreter, I work hand in hand with my booth colleague. Many times, he/she might be a "one time colleague", but many others, we become friends. After their very first interpreting turn (we take 30-minute turns) you already know if they are proficient, if they studied for that particular subject matter, their command in both languages, the commitment to the job and the client who hired us, etc.

This is how I know I can refer a colleague or not.

I also started to work as a freelance professional very young (at least for our market, in Argentina, a 27-year-old-freelancer is a "baby"), and so when I had the chance to refer someone for the first time, I recommended my University Professors (and I still do, we became part of a team), first, because I totally trust their capabilities - they know who they are- and, second, because referring them is my opportunity to thank and compensate them for having recommended me for my first jobs - it was thanks to their leap of faith that I started to work as a professional freelancer, otherwise, it would have been quite impossible to me.

Now I've been freelancing for 6 years, as an interpreter and a translator, and of course I refer other colleagues who I met in a booth, or who were recommended to me by other fellow colleagues who I trust. Only two or three times in six years did I need to revise and correct a translation (never "redo").


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:11
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Cause and effect Jan 5

Texte Style wrote:

I know the translators I recommend are good because they are mostly translators I used to work with in-house.

Of course anyone can have a bad day. I remember one translator's bad Christmas where she ended up in hospital and her daughter sent in a "rough" copy of a job I'd sent her, with a message to the effect that her mother would only bill 50% of her usual rate because she hadn't finished.

I checked everything much more carefully than usual but still only changed one term in about ten pages. So I called to say she should jolly well bill as usual. Even with the closer inspection, I still spent less time on proofreading her work than for other translators.

This translator later asked if I could write a recommendation, she was applying to a European institution for an in-house job. Of course I wrote a glowing recommendation, further to which the HR manager at the institution called me because it sounded too good to be true. No, she really is that good and you'd be a fool not to hire her, just as I'm a fool for telling you how good she is because once you've hired her I won't be able to send her work any more.

There really are some great translators out there. It's just that nobody ever asks us to proofread their work!


I sense a cause-and-effect process here. After the globalization wave that started to push translation rates down all around, many agencies stopped hiring independent proofreaders or paying for proofreading services. They decided to ask the translator to self-proof his/her own work. That's one cause.

The consequence or effect of this short-sighted approach has been that there aren't many proofreading jobs out there anymore, and the ones that remain seem to be translations so poorly or hastily executed that, overall, we don't want to proofread them.

Conclusion: we recommend fewer colleagues because we haven't had the chance to proof their work. Agencies and other translation consumers or buyers end up buying services from unknowns. A cascade of effects, I'd say.


 


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


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

Working with colleagues

Advanced search







SDL Trados Studio 2019 Freelance
The leading translation software used by over 250,000 translators.

SDL Trados Studio 2019 has evolved to bring translators a brand new experience. Designed with user experience at its core, Studio 2019 transforms how new users get up and running, helps experienced users make the most of the powerful features, ensures new

More info »
BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, ProZ.com integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »



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