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Ridiculous recruitment procedures for translators
Thread poster: Witold Chocholski

Witold Chocholski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:57
English to Polish
+ ...
Apr 18, 2011

Hi everybody

I was recently approached by a major (or is it?) translation agency which requested me to complete a questionnaire, then requested a tedious online training and again another questionnaire, after which I MAYBE will be considered as a right candidate.

All this without a word about payment terms for those successful candidates.

I find this kind of practice simply abusive and highly unprofessional. In business terms it's simply unacceptable. I wonder now how it is possible they have quite a good (but not spotless in fact) Blue Board record.

Is it possible that someone starts in such an awful manner but ends up as a great client? Anybody experienced anything similar?

I'll be glad to hear from you.

All the best
W


 

Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:57
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Lighten up Apr 19, 2011

Hi Witold,

Have you ever considered that this agency might have developed a perfect and cost-effective online tool to select (proven) best possible translators?

The 0,xx euro per source word question will come up sooner or later, but why should they talk business with people they haven't assessed? You surely have to rethink your business approach in these matters.

In my experience: the sleeker the selection process, the lesser the chance that I'll get selected, because, when the chips are down, the metrics will point to the 'cheapest best possible translators'.

But the same agency might turn the dials on their dashboard for another client and you'll be 'in' before you know it.

Cheers,
Gerard


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:57
English to German
+ ...
I find it annoying, too, but... Apr 19, 2011

Witold Chocholski wrote:

I was recently approached by a major (or is it?) translation agency which requested me to complete a questionnaire, then requested a tedious online training and again another questionnaire, after which I MAYBE will be considered as a right candidate.


If this is their approach to quality control and selecting the right candidates, so be it.


All this without a word about payment terms for those successful candidates.


It is always the translator who offers the price per translation. Most translators don't even have a standard rate for all the different kinds of texts they receive from one single agency.

I find this kind of practice simply abusive and highly unprofessional. In business terms it's simply unacceptable. I wonder now how it is possible they have quite a good (but not spotless in fact) Blue Board record.


You don't have to answer all of those questions to the last letter. Some translators will be happy to tell about all their previous employers or clients or projects, some don't. Some will happily list each and every machine they have sitting around in their office by first name, including hard-disk space and RAM, some don't.

When asked for references, I usually refer the prospective client to my BB entries, including a note that I give BB entries after one year/after 10k of revenues earliest. And that I will not provide contacts with my direct clients because of the NDAs that I signed with them. This will do it.

Recently I was even asked for the number of computers in my office. ("Excuse me??!?"). I replied that I will happily send a full inventory of my office if it REALLY necessary. Which of course turned out to be NOT necessary and I received the project anyway.

Is it possible that someone starts in such an awful manner but ends up as a great client? Anybody experienced anything similar?


Some direct clients, especially the ones that are ISO-certified, will bombard you will Supplier Evaluation forms, Financial Forms, contracts and NDAs beyond believe because they are required to so to keep their ISO certification.


 

Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:57
I hate paperwork Apr 19, 2011

Witold Chocholski wrote:

Hi everybody

I was recently approached by a major (or is it?) translation agency which requested me to complete a questionnaire, then requested a tedious online training and again another questionnaire, after which I MAYBE will be considered as a right candidate.

All this without a word about payment terms for those successful candidates.

I find this kind of practice simply abusive and highly unprofessional. In business terms it's simply unacceptable. I wonder now how it is possible they have quite a good (but not spotless in fact) Blue Board record.

Is it possible that someone starts in such an awful manner but ends up as a great client? Anybody experienced anything similar?

I'll be glad to hear from you.

All the best
W




Since I hate paperwork (I would consider this paperwork, even if completing these tasks are done online, these were existent even before computers ages), I would just give up and wouldn't apply for this agency, regardless of being big or small. And from my experience, more than 90% of these kind of companies which require to fill out this and that have hardly outsourced any jobs to me.


 

scriptrans (X)

Local time: 03:57
English to German
+ ...
Ridiculous indeed Apr 19, 2011

Experience has shown that those agencies with the most complicated paper work were not worth the hassle.

Even if I fill in endless amounts of forms that does not tell them anything about my abilities as a translator. It simply tells them that I have too much time on my hands and can fill in forms.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I am happy to do a small test translation or - better still - a short paid translation so they can actually assess my skills. They do not need an exhaustive list of previous jobs with word count and delivery date, the names of my former colleagues or my shoe size.

I have made the mistake once for an agencies. Provided all the paperwork, even asked my former boss for a reference... and all I ever got was a mass e-mail once or twice a year somewhere along the lines of "We need a legal translation of 10000 words, deadline last week". If they had actually had a look at their wonderful forms, they would have noticed that I do not do legal translations...

And I think it is fair enought to talk money right at the beginning. It would be rather annoying to find out that they are only prepared to pay half of your "best rate" after spending hours on filling in their forms...


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:57
English to German
+ ...
I agree Apr 19, 2011

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:

Since I hate paperwork (I would consider this paperwork, even if completing these tasks are done online, these were existent even before computers ages), I would just give up and wouldn't apply for this agency, regardless of being big or small. And from my experience, more than 90% of these kind of companies which require to fill out this and that have hardly outsourced any jobs to me.


I have become extremely selective, and I will only give in to this ordeal if the company has contacted me
1.) by personal email
2.) with a description of the project

Like many colleagues I neither have the time nor the energy to play around with forms. I hate paperwork. Should I ever be overwhelmed by the urge to fill out forms, I do my taxes.


 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Unable to consider applications Apr 19, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:

I have become extremely selective, and I will only give in to this ordeal if the company has contacted me
1.) by personal email
2.) with a description of the project



Quite right Nicole.

When I am approached in a clumsy way by yet another agency I simply write back to say that I am 'unable to consider applications from any new clients at the moment'.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:57
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not without discussing rates first Apr 19, 2011

Gerard de Noord wrote:
The 0,xx euro per source word question will come up sooner or later, but why should they talk business with people they haven't assessed? You surely have to rethink your business approach in these matters.

But this raises another question: why should we translators spend any time being assessed before a conversation is held about potential rates?

Or would it be reasonable if a lawyer spent the whole morning discussing your case, to find out later that you only want to pay 1/3 of his usual fees? A quick discussion about rates early in the process is a must in every healthy service business.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:57
English to German
+ ...
Which raises another question Apr 19, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Gerard de Noord wrote:
The 0,xx euro per source word question will come up sooner or later, but why should they talk business with people they haven't assessed? You surely have to rethink your business approach in these matters.

But this raises another question: why should we translators spend any time being assessed before a conversation is held about potential rates?

Or would it be reasonable if a lawyer spent the whole morning discussing your case, to find out later that you only want to pay 1/3 of his usual fees? A quick discussion about rates early in the process is a must in every healthy service business.



What precisely hinders the translator to reply to such a request stating his/her minimum rates?

"Dear (XXX),

It will be my pleasure to provide the information requested. My rates start at.. (XXX)..."

It will save a lot of time on both sides. Translators wish and need to be respected as business partners, so why not set the standard and the rules from your side? Mutual respect is the key.


 

IPtranslate (X)
Brazil
English to Dutch
+ ...
Very much so Apr 19, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:


What precisely hinders the translator to reply to such a request stating his/her minimum rates?

"Dear (XXX),

It will be my pleasure to provide the information requested. My rates start at.. (XXX)..."

It will save a lot of time on both sides. Translators wish and need to be respected as business partners, so why not set the standard and the rules from your side? Mutual respect is the key.


Exactly; that is what I usually do. In view of the more than frequently abonimable rates on offer, this is MY way of being efficient. I sift through the potential clients to remove those that aren't so potential after all.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:57
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Some telltale signs Apr 19, 2011

Some of my best clients indeed asked me to print and sign a lot of papers. Yet this was after we had negotiated everything on a specific project they had, and were willing to assign to me. Their stance was that We need this paperwork behind before we can get you started. All right, the paperwork was done once for life, and never mentioned again in the ensuing years.

I guess their agreement with lawyer stated that unless the agency had all that paperwork done, no assistance would be provided in case anything went wrong.

Whenever an agency required a lot of paperwork before discussing any specific project, it was always a waste of time. I used to do it long ago, some agencies - if they still exist - still have all my info, but I never received any assignment from them.

One such agency wanted me for allegedly a large volume of sworn translations, which are ruled by specific laws in Brazil. They sent me a long agreement, and I pointed out to them 19 unenforceable clauses there, conflicting with Brazilian law. These are being analyzed by their legal department... since Nov. 2008!

The worst case was one agency saying that, in order to keep their ISO-whatever certification, they must have at least three verified references from each translator they hired, no exceptions allowed, ever. So I got three loyal clients of mine who were willing to give them. As it happened, less than half an hour after I had given them these references' contact information, all three received: a) an abusively long questionnaire, and b) an e-mail to the tune of Whatever this jerk does for you, we can do it faster, better, and cheaper!" Though several years have passed ever since, I'm pretty sure my clients are still receiving regular spam from this agency. Yet I've never worked for this agency, and the three references given are still my loyal clients.


 

Witold Chocholski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:57
English to Polish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
These are good points Apr 19, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:

What precisely hinders the translator to reply to such a request stating his/her minimum rates?

"Dear (XXX),

It will be my pleasure to provide the information requested. My rates start at.. (XXX)..."

It will save a lot of time on both sides. Translators wish and need to be respected as business partners, so why not set the standard and the rules from your side? Mutual respect is the key.


Exactly, very much true. However, in my case the correspondence is probably automated. When I enquired some more information, I still got no response.

Well, I am not going to do anything more at this stage and doubt if I will at all taking into consideration the way they respond (or rather don't respond) to emails from potential contractors. Automated systems of this type are good for spamming, not for serious business correspondence.

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Some of my best clients indeed asked me to print and sign a lot of papers. Yet this was after we had negotiated everything on a specific project they had, and were willing to assign to me.


That's the way it should look like. I don't mind paperwork (it's not a pleasure, but I can accept it if it's worthwhile). The only thing is we have to have a deal sealed. In the case which I discuss here, nothing was agreed but I got tons of materials to read. It's a waste of time. Mine and theirs (if my rates are too high for them). Maybe they have resources to waste their time. I don't.

Yes (reluctantlyicon_smile.gif) for paperwork. But after negotiations. I don't see any point of paperwork and unpaid training before we have the price and terms agreed. It seems now they don't want to discuss it. Very strange business approach.


 

Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:57
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Thanks to Nicole Schnell . . Apr 19, 2011

. . . for talking so much sense today about our relationships with agencies. Keep it up!

 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
. Apr 19, 2011

I had an email this week from an agency wanting scanned copies of my degree certificate and "a reference or other letter of praise". I thought of getting my wife to tell them how good I am at loading the dishwasher, or the people next door to say that I never play loud music after midnight. Still, at least the email didn't go to waste - it went into the recycle bin.

 

Lany Chabot-Laroche  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:57
Member (2009)
English to French
I turned down a couple of tests that way Apr 19, 2011

I had some agencies asking to fill out paperwork AND do a test before even talking about rates, and since I know about half the agencies around here cannot afford my services, I turned the test down.

If the agency cannot take 2 minutes to tell me "Yes, your rates of 0.XX" are acceptable to us", why should I take 1-2 hours of my time to do a test to be told I'm too expensive.

The agency loses time correcting the test and I lose time doing it when we were not a match to begin with.

Same goes for paperwork, if it's extremely tedious, I usually make sure the agency is worth my time before going forward. If it's just name, pair, tools, fields... sure, why not, won't take more than 5 minutes.


 
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