Agency wants to send my anonymized CV to clients
Thread poster: Peter Shortall

Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:28
Member
French to English
+ ...
Jul 12, 2013

I've just received an unusual request from an agency and would appreciate the thoughts of fellow ProZians, as I'm not entirely sure how to respond to it.

An agency that I do small but regular jobs for has requested my permission to send my CV, minus my name and other personal/contact details, to potential clients when offering quotes. This, it says, is because potential clients sometimes want to see the CV of the translator who would be taking on the job, and taking this step would enable it to stand out in the market.

This is the first time I've come across this practice. Although I trust the agency itself, it would mean I have no control over what happens to my (anonymized) CV, so it could potentially end up being copied - and I know from other forum threads that CV plagiarism does happen. That's why I haven't published my CV on my ProZ profile. Even if my name and contact details are removed, my combination of working languages is unusual (and to my knowledge, unique), so if someone really wanted to work out the translator's identity and knew where to look, I don't think they'd have much difficulty. I can see how this might also lead to situations where clients try to contact me directly and bypass the agency, which I'm sure the agency wouldn't want.

It also surprises me a little that clients buying from an agency would find an anonymized CV useful, because I don't really understand what it proves. How does the client know that the CV really does belong to the translator who will take on the job? They will have to take it on trust. If I were an end client who wanted to see a translator's CV, I would simply contact a freelancer direct and ask them for it, but then that's just me!

So my initial feeling is that this isn't a good idea, and I may have to say a polite "no". What would you say, and why? And are there any other factors that should be considered?


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:28
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I often get that Jul 12, 2013

Peter Shortall wrote:
An agency that I do small but regular jobs for has requested my permission to send my CV, minus my name and other personal/contact details, to potential clients when offering quotes.


Yes. I see no problem with this.

Although I trust the agency itself, it would mean I have no control over what happens to my (anonymized) CV, so it could potentially end up being copied...


Is it impossible for anyone to copy your CV if your CV is not anonymised by you?


 

Sarai Pahla (MD) MBChB
Germany
Local time: 13:28
Member (2012)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Identity Theft Jul 12, 2013

Peter Shortall wrote:

This is the first time I've come across this practice. Although I trust the agency itself, it would mean I have no control over what happens to my (anonymized) CV, so it could potentially end up being copied - and I know from other forum threads that CV plagiarism does happen.


This is how my CV was stolen in the first place. I didn't agree to having my name removed or my CV sent out, but I agreed to allow the agency to "market" my CV to potential clients. The agency opened up an email account in my name and communicated with clients as me, and then got other translators to do the work as well as me.

There are potentially still agencies out there who think that I am a terrible translator, but I have also received business this way because people found me via my blog and asked if I was aware that my CV was being used in this way.

Further - I don't think there is any reason why a client would need to see my CV unless they are working with me directly. The agency is acting on the basis of its reputation, which is built up from far more than the translators who work from them.


 

KateKaminski
Local time: 12:28
German to English
Too risky Jul 12, 2013

[quote]Sarai Pahla wrote:

Peter Shortall wrote:

I don't think there is any reason why a client would need to see my CV unless they are working with me directly. The agency is acting on the basis of its reputation, which is built up from far more than the translators who work from them.


I agree - you work for the agency, not the client.

If the client is interested in the credentials of translators, they should contact and work with translators directly (I wonder how many of them know about Proz?).

If they would rather not have to worry about such things, they should simply hire an agency with a good reputation and trust them to find suitable translators. Surely that is why agencies exist in the first place.

Edited to add: Once exception is if you are aware of the identity of the client and you give your approval each time before your CV is sent out (e.g. to the EU to bid for jobs).

[Edited at 2013-07-12 16:57 GMT]


 

Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:28
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
I would politely decline Jul 13, 2013

The explosion of scams targeting translators in the last couple of years is reason enough, in my opinion, to tell the agency that you don't want to risk your CV being misused, no matter how trustworthy the agency or the client may be. There are numerous threads here on ProZ discussing identity theft, so you might want to link to one or two longer ones to make your point. If you are so inclined, a possible compromise could be to compose a brief synopsis of your qualifications in an informal, continuous text format to give to the agency if you think they might otherwise be put off by a flat refusal. That would be as far as I, personally, would be willing to go (depending on my relationship to the agency).

In addition, remember that you have your own business providing a service, and are not an employee. Do you ask for the plumber's CV before you give him a job? Or the auto mechanic? If the end client doesn't trust the agency enough to accept their judgment, then that is not your problem.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:28
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Kate Jul 13, 2013

KateKaminski wrote:
If the client is interested in the credentials of translators, they should contact and work with translators directly...


I think you'll find that in the world of translation agencies very few agencies would actually be willing to pass the names and contact details of their translators to the clients (and vice versa).

Yes, the client chooses the translation agency, but sometimes they want a little extra assurance about the service that the agency can provide, and since it is very difficult to fake dozens of résumés, the client is likely to accept anonymised translator résumés as being real translators' résumés.


 

KateKaminski
Local time: 12:28
German to English
Hi Samuel Jul 13, 2013

I was not suggesting the agencies should tell their clients about the translators on their books. This is a sure way to destroy your own business!

I meant that if clients want to know all about the translators working on their projects, they should contact and work with them directly, e.g. by looking for translators' own websites, searching on Proz etc.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:28
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Three points Jul 13, 2013

First, chances are that the agency will use your CV - if you are good - to sell the services of some cheaper translators who are not so good. This is otherwise known as window dressing.

Second, the clients will be hiring the agency - not you. If that agency uses some editor, reviewer, or proofreader who botches up your pristine work, and we see it happening here and there, what is the point of exhibiting your impressive CV?

Finally, if the agency doesn't add any value to the entire process, what is the point for the end-client to have these middlemen on the way? This end-client should be searching for freelancer translators like you, not an agency like this one.

I've covered some aspects on the need - or lack thereof - to hire a translation agency vs. a freelancer on this page. If you look at it as a whole, you'll realize that an agency's purpose in the process is all about adding value; otherwise they'll only add to overall costs. If they add value, part of it is in selecting adequate translation providers; the agency is accountable for adequate translators' qualifications, the end-client is not expected to know about them.

Have you ever seen a restaurant menu with pictures of their suppliers' facilities?

[Edited at 2013-07-13 11:50 GMT]


 

Shai Navé  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 14:28
Member
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Agree with José Henrique Jul 13, 2013

This request seems to becoming trendier, but I would not recommend collaborating with it.
Peter Shortall wrote:
This, it says, is because potential clients sometimes want to see the CV of the translator who would be taking on the job, and taking this step would enable it to stand out in the market.

These clients are most likely other, larger, translation agencies and not direct clients. This agencies might require the CVs to satisfy some 'standard' or just as a mean to harvest CVs. Also, that agency you work with or the larger one(s) might be applying to some governmental or EU tender, in which often time the participants are asked to submit the CVs of the people who will actually do the work. However, since it is a tender, the cheapest offer usually wins, hence the use of the bait and switch tactic. Use the CVs (and an independent translator should not have a CV to begin with. It is a term borrowed from the corporate world of employment, while in fact independent translators are business owners offering a service and not seeking employment - this misplaced terminology should be dropped, first and foremost by the translators themselves) of the best translators, only to give the actual work to the cheapest translators should the tender be awarded because they are usually the ones who fit the low bid that was submitted and allow the agency to maintain its profit margins.

There is always the possibility that this agency is honest and trustworthy, and that they will not abuse your information. But because you cannot be sure and/or control what their clients will do with your CV, and in light of the business risks that José Henrique summed up very well, as well as the growing trend of identity theft in the marketplace, I consider this to be an unnecessary risk and therefore recommend to avoid it.


 

Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:28
Member
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks everyone Jul 15, 2013

Thank you all for your replies. On further reflection, I agree with Sarai and Kate that there is simply no need for an end client to see a translator's CV when dealing with an agency. The client's contract is with the agency. And José Henrique makes a very good point about added value. I know that this agency has its translations proofread, so the finished product will not necessarily be 100% my work anway. I'm not worried about the agency behaving in a dishonest way, though; in several years of cooperation, all I've seen from it so far is professionalism, otherwise I wouldn't have stuck with it.

One other point that occurs to me: if a client trusts an agency to provide a genuine CV that really does belong to the translator who will do the work, why not trust it to work only with appropriately skilled translators, as agencies generally claim to do? If a CV really matters that much to an end client, then giving the client a redacted CV with the personal details removed seems like a curious and rather pointless half-measure to me as it offers no additional assurances that can be verified independently. So I can see no real benefits to be gained from this.

And as I've pointed out to the agency, if its aim in removing my name and contact details is to prevent me from being identified (and perhaps contacted directly) by clients, then this is by no means a foolproof measure as I could easily be identified from my language pairs alone, if someone knows which directories to look in. And it would be just as easy for a CV thief to do that and then pass themselves off as me, so relinquishing some of my control over who gets to see my CV just doesn't seem like a very wise move.

Thanks again for helping me to come to a decision!


 

xxxnrichy
France
Local time: 13:28
French to Dutch
+ ...
Don't see the need to anonymize Jul 15, 2013

I agree with the risk of identity theft. On two occasions, however, I sent my full cv to the agency. In both cases they were long and outstanding clients.
In both cases, the clients had to know where I came from.
Anonymizing would make my cv worthless.
They can use my cv as they want, even as an advertisement if they want do do so, they know I won't steal their clients and they know their clients won't make a deal with me.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 13:28
English to Polish
+ ...
See below Jul 19, 2013

Peter, I sympathise with José's comments: you're basically giving the agency the right to use your CV as a marketing tool to get jobs. To complicate the matter, though, I agree with nrichy too: might as well put the name and surname on it (although the agency might not like that solution for fear of being bypassed by its clients going directly to you).

I'm of a mixed mind on that issue, as anybody familar with Poland-based legal PLEN, and quite a lot of Poland-based PLEN anyway (or even international), would probably recognise my CV without a name on it. How many people have gone to the exact same schools? And graduated all of them in the exact same years? What about publications? If your CV is more of a mainstream kind: language or translation degree, some language or translation exams and certificates, n years of experience, a couple of well-manned fields of specialisation, then you can only gain from the added opportunity to reassure the agency's potential clients. On the other hand, if your CV is markedly different from everybody else's, then you risk the agency's becoming associated with the selling of your service, which might undermine your position as the primary provider of them, especially if you seel them at lower rates to agencies than to direct clients. You don't want to be competing with an agency as the seller of your own clearly identified services.

This said, short translator biograms with photos are probably better than CVs for service offers, which is how lawyers do it. They don't submit a plaintive CV, they sell the story of a (presumably somewhat) successful lawyer. Or at least one that has a face. Such a bio would contain the most vital information anyway, such as your degrees, experience profile etc.


 


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