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How long did it take you to get your first job here?
Thread poster: Christopher Shepherd

Christopher Shepherd  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:09
French to English
Sep 21, 2011

I've been here about two or three weeks, and have yet to get one. I'm starting to believe that not having a degree or certificate in translating and the fact that I've only done translating for friends, outside of a business setting is going to make it impossible to find work. I really am starting to lose hope.

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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 22:09
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Your qualifications and your presentation Sep 21, 2011

Hi Christopher,

I think the qualifications you have listed so far in your profile may not impress most customers. The bulk of the work passing through the site is related to business in some way or another, and your profile does scream "outside of a business setting" just like you said.

I would recommend reviewing the profiles of other members and updating yours like so:

- list your experience with your source language, i.e. your level of proficiency and how you came to acquire it;
- list the translation projects you've done; whether you mention that they were done free of charge is up to you, but don't stretch the truth too much - it could come back to bite you later when you take on a project you are not prepared to handle;
- try to give customers what they're looking for - a professional translation provider.

Best of luck!

[Edited at 2011-09-21 06:36 GMT]


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:09
German to English
+ ...
Patience is definitely a virtue Sep 21, 2011

Christopher Shepherd wrote:

I've been here about two or three weeks, and have yet to get one. I'm starting to believe that not having a degree or certificate in translating and the fact that I've only done translating for friends, outside of a business setting is going to make it impossible to find work. I really am starting to lose hope.


What Mikhail wrote is very sound, and I would like to add a couple of things. A degree in translation is a good thing, but not a requirement. Many professional translators don't have a degree in translation but in another field, and have settled into specializing in translation in the field they know, like law, medicine, engineering, etc. Not just a degree, but also practical experience in a field is valuable as a basis for expertise. Different fields have very specialized terminology that someone who hasn't worked in it wouldn't know and could have problems with.

In my case, I have a degree in Comp Lit, worked in the theatre and after a few years there did a lot of work in marketing and human resources, so those are the subjects I specialize in ... and role-playing games, because I know what good dialog is from my theatre background. I'm sure there are as many tips as there are translators on this board, and I am but one of them. Read the forums, pick your specializations wisely and be patient. It takes time to build up a client base, and there are a lot of translators around these days. I also would suggest familiarizing yourself with all the features of this site in between jobs. You can learn an awful lot about the business side of things - something I don't think you can learn in college or at a university.

Good luck and beware of scams!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:09
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Why choose you? Sep 21, 2011

Hello Christopher,

Welcome to ProZ.com! You've taken a first step on the route to becoming a professional translator by registering here and I'm sure you'll learn a lot from browsing through the enormous store of information that's here.

I'd like to advise you to look first at this recent thread: http://www.proz.com/forum/getting_established/207814-getting_started:_will_i_ever_be_given_a_chance.html
Tania has done just about everything she possibly could to be accepted as a professional translator, yet she was despairing of being able to break into the profession.

To be brutally honest, I have to ask myself what you have done to earn your place, and I really can't find any reason why a client would choose you for their translation - except perhaps on the basis of your tariff. Our clients aren't requesting a translation out of interest, for their own use. They're trying to grow their businesses on the international stage, and they demand very high quality and lots of assurances to limit their business risk.

Now, perhaps I'm being unfair to you. Perhaps the standard of translating that you have been providing is second-to-none. Certainly, being rewarded financially doesn't in itself add any worth to a translation - I like to think that my pro-bono translations for Translators Without Borders are extremely worthwhile. So, one thing you can do straight away is prove that you can produce good quality. Ask friends if you can publish an excerpt or two in your profile here. Then list all projects so clients can tell what sort of topics you have handled: scientific, medical, CVs, websites, contracts, blogs, personal letters - they all call for different terminology and different skills.

Then, as Mikhail has already said, give clients reasons to believe you can deal with specific projects. Justify your level of French, justify your ability to write correctly in English, justify your suitability to translate in your specialisation areas, particularly in medicine. Are you sure you can accurately translate a patient's medical record or a transcript of a patient/doctor consultation, bearing in mind the importance of such information to the patient?

There is also a complete lack of qualifications in your profile. I would advise you to follow some sort of course to show you the basics of translation techniques - those things that truly bilingual people can't necessarily handle: what to do about abbreviations and proper names, how closely to stick to the source text in advertising and in contracts, questions of register and use of colloquialisms, etc.

Frankly, I think your clients have a duty to themselves to demand some assurance of quality. If you can provide that quality, I advise you to attend the regular free webinar "Meeting Clients at ProZ.com". You will get a lot of advice on improving your profile.

Sheila


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Holly Nathan  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:09
Italian to English
profile Sep 21, 2011

Hi Christopher

Yes, it's true that your profile is important. I registered with proz at the start of this year and have had only two quotes accepted in that time. However, people regularly contact me directly via my proz profile and ask me if I am available and I have managed to build up some great contacts that way. I would say that a large chunk of all the work I do comes from these contacts. I remember that before I registered I asked a friend of mine (who was already a member) if she got much work from the jobs board and whether she thought I should bother becoming a member or not. She said that proz was good for building up contacts and I have come to see exactly what she meant by that (although at the time it sounded a bit vague).

Anyway, keep at it! Two weeks is nothing. I was on a beach two weeks ago and it only seems like yesterday!

Oh and another thing. A few months back I got turned down for a job on the jobs board but then yesterday the client got in touch with me and sent me some work. So if you receive an email saying "We have found somebody else for this particular job but will keep your details on record for future projects" consider it to be a good thing (sort of)!


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:09
Hebrew to English
A few more things... Sep 21, 2011

A lot has already been said, but given an absence of qualifications to list, I would suggest demonstrating your abilities, by posting a few sample translations on your profile.

In addition, and most importantly try to get active on KudoZ. Not only will this illustrate your talents but it will boost your ranking in the directories.

As much as I hate this (ridiculously corporate) phrase and mentality, you have to "sell yourself". Or at least distinguish yourself from the crowd, especially in more popular language pairs (if your language pair was Zulu>English you could afford to be more lax, as you'd be the only one on proz) but with the Romance languages, you have a lot of competition, and you have to devise ways to stand out (in a good way).

Also, if you have the time/will, think about doing some volunteer translation. A bit of philanthropy never hurt anybody, and sure looks good on a C.V. (and can help you build up a portfolio - doesn't matter that it isn't paid).

I haven't been on here long either, and I too am learning that patience is a virtue.


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Rebelo Júnior  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:09
Member (2011)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Don't give up!!!! Sep 21, 2011

But I do have to agree with the other fellow translators. You have to stand out among the others, and best way to do it is through your profile and KudoZ points.

Think seriously about attending one of the introductory (free) Proz webinars (see training section). I do not remember the exact training name (introduction to ProZ, getting started in translation, something like that) but thay make a difference.

Best wishes and good luck!


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Christopher Shepherd  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:09
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
I don't like spam! Sep 21, 2011

Well, I got my first spam/scam offer!

[Edited at 2011-09-21 12:50 GMT]


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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:09
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
Since 2004 Sep 21, 2011

I've been here since 2004. To me, this place has been, and is, valuable for many reasons, especially for learning, but not for getting projects. I am a certified translator and interpreter, and a Proz PRO; I have 10+ years of experience; I translate every day, including many weekends (this is how I make my living); I've never had a dry spell... however, just a handful of clients have contacted me through Proz, and I have never, ever, won a bid on Proz because I do not give my work away for peanuts.

I agree with what all the colleagues have said about your profile: polish it, sell yourself, show proof of your capabilities. If I were you, I would make the availability calendar invisible to the public. Whether you are fully available, or fully booked, may put ideas in the client's head, and make them pass on you and keep on looking. You would not want a potential client making decisions for you.


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Christopher Shepherd  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:09
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Alternatives? Sep 21, 2011

From what I'm reading here, it seems as though this site seems to offer more of an opportunity to network than to get paid jobs. I'm curious as to where you established translators are going for freelance work online.

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Sonia Hill
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:09
Italian to English
Contact agencies directly Sep 21, 2011

Christopher Shepherd wrote:

From what I'm reading here, it seems as though this site seems to offer more of an opportunity to network than to get paid jobs. I'm curious as to where you established translators are going for freelance work online.


While I've won a few jobs by bidding on ProZ, most of my clients are agencies I contacted directly. Some agencies have also contacted me after seeing my profile on here (a good reason to make your profile as detailed as possible).
When I started out, I sent out a cover letter and my CV to as many agencies as possible and work soon started coming in thick and fast. Have you tried doing this?


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Christopher Shepherd  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:09
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Not yet. Sep 21, 2011

But I will. Do you have a list of agencies? Thanks in advance.

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Holly Nathan  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:09
Italian to English
. Sep 21, 2011

Christopher Shepherd wrote:

From what I'm reading here, it seems as though this site seems to offer more of an opportunity to network than to get paid jobs. I'm curious as to where you established translators are going for freelance work online.



Have you tried the proactive (cringe, sorry, don't like that word) approach and written off to agencies from the blueboard? Agencies don't post all their job opportunities on proz, they have databases with people they can email immediately, people they work regularly with and know and trust. Get yourself on some of those lists. Sell yourself (sorry Ty I hate that too).
I agree that you have to be patient but you also have to put in the hours doing all the boring stuff like emailing your CV off and writing to potential direct clients. Then, one day, out of the blue (and when you have completely forgotten about them) MR so-and-so from such-and-such a company will reply and say he DOES need your help actually ....... and then you might get another email four months later from that same Mr so-and-so and he says he has a friend who needs a translation and would it be ok if he passed on your email address.
But it takes a while.


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Holly Nathan  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:09
Italian to English
. Sep 21, 2011

Oh, we were writing the same thing at the same time Sonia.

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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:09
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
Education and Training Sep 21, 2011

Before you start indiscriminately mailing your CV to translation agencies, please understand the need to invest in some education about how to deal with them and other clients, and the freelancing business in general.

As I mentioned on my previous entry, Proz is a very valuable place because of the many resources found here, among them, a myriad of videos, online training, Webinars, one-on-one training sessiones, etc., all geared to further developing us as professional translators as well as business people.

Visit the Education tab and see what is available that would suit your need to market yourself to potential clients, and communicate with them in the right way. You may begin by considering at least the first two on this list:

Before Starting As A Freelance Translator
http://www.proz.com/translator-training/course/1822-before_starting_as_a_freelance_translator

The Art of Bidding for Fresh Freelancers
http://www.proz.com/translator-training/course/5287-fresh_freelancer_series_06:_the_art_of_bidding_for_fresh_freelancers

Quote to Win: How to Win Projects on the Freelance Marketplace
http://www.proz.com/translator-training/course/4096-quote_to_win_:_how_to_win_projects_on_the_freelance_marketplace

20 Tips and Templates to Write that Killer Marketing Email
http://www.proz.com/translator-training/course/3946-20_tips_and_templates_to_write_that_killer_marketing_email

Good luck!


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