A question for agencies and project managers: How easy is it to find good translators?
Thread poster: GudrunPancake
GudrunPancake
United Kingdom
English to Finnish
May 8, 2015

Let me start off by saying that the vast majority of PMs I have worked with are extremely professional, flexible, capable and friendly. I have a great long-term relationship with many of them - they know I am reliable and will provide good-quality work. I know what they expect and do my best to give them a good service.

However, I have recently had the misfortune of working with a PM who (I felt) treated me with some distain. I went out of my way to help as much as I could with a super-urgent project (1000 words due within an hour?!), which was quite stressful for me. Apparently another translator had let her down at the last minute.
I did not ask for a surcharge. She did not say thank you and even forgot to send me a purchase order.

Then she sent another project in a horrible PDF format. I translated it using my CAT tool and the formatting was not great, to be honest, but the text was all correctly laid out in the target file and would have been absolutely fine to read, print out and compare with the original.
She was very cross about the fact it was not all typed out from scratch and demanded a discount because she 'had' to spend 1.5 hours reformatting the file.
Itold her my quite reasonable rate was for translating and basic formatting only.

Overall, it felt like I should be grateful to be given a job by her and that we were not equals.

It makes me wonder whether it's easy for her to jump from one translator to another. I am not particularly keen to accept any further jobs from her. Are good, reliable translators quite easy to find?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:42
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
How easy is it to find good translators? May 8, 2015

I can't speak about your particular situation, but I have noticed that some agencies (typically those that ask for "best rates") do seem to micro-manage a lot more. Perhaps this is the nature of working with less experienced translators. While they charge less, they may tend not to be as reliable.

If you give a professional translator a project and tell him/her that it's due in two weeks, you can rest assured that in two week's time, that project will be delivered to you. When you are dealing with people willing to work for cut-throat rates, perhaps it's necessary to have lengthy style sheets, checklists ('make sure you spell check'...) and make progress checks every two-three days. With a professional translator, you can go to bed each night, safe in the notion that your project will be completed on time (barring some catastrophic event - and maybe still even then). With an amateur working for pennies, you never know what's going to happen because your project is never as much of a priority (maybe they forgot, maybe they didn't feel like working that day, maybe they overslept, maybe they are translating on their cell phone and it got lost/broken, etc.).

When you add amateur part-time translators + rush deadlines = almost certain disaster.

[Edited at 2015-05-08 14:40 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
The brief should be dead clear before you start May 8, 2015

GudrunPancake wrote:

Then she sent another project in a horrible PDF format. I translated it using my CAT tool and the formatting was not great, to be honest, but the text was all correctly laid out in the target file and would have been absolutely fine to read, print out and compare with the original.
She was very cross about the fact it was not all typed out from scratch and demanded a discount because she 'had' to spend 1.5 hours reformatting the file.
Itold her my quite reasonable rate was for translating and basic formatting only.



I cannot answer your question relating to how easy it is to find a good translator (have not worked as a PM). I can only tell you that if I like a product, service, car model or a pat, I stick to it.

As of your pdf issue, I never start a project if I am not dead sure what the expected outcome is. Most of my customers state in the PO: "do not convert pdf". It only gives trouble. If I think I only have to translate and the customer will format, I do make sure I put it in writing before I start the project. If I happen to be doing formatting too, I have no problem with it, but I do charge for it as it is time spent (actually, not very nice work).

On the other hand, there are no cocky PMs, there are cocky people. Avoid them, if you can at all.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
GudrunPancake
United Kingdom
English to Finnish
TOPIC STARTER
Unforeseeable issue May 8, 2015

Thank you, Merab, this is of course good advice.

The problem is, my CAT tool usually handles PDF conversions very well. It was unclear that this was a particularly odd PDF file. I am not sure what they did to it, but there were odd spaces everywhere which are not visible in standard view.

I translated the file and was not aware of this until I had finished the work.

Sometimes a client specifies that they want the file typed out in Word, which is absolutely fine and the translator must abide by this. But there were no such instructions in this case and, as I said, the file was serviceable - the only issues were some odd line breaks and spacing between lines.

The PM acts like its easy to find another translator ... Maybe she thinks I am not worth trying to keep because I am not a perfectionist when it comes to formatting! I must admit it's not my forte - I did not go to university for seven years to format Word files though.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:42
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Outsourcing or a business partnership? May 10, 2015

There are many different outsourcing transactions in the translation marketplace.

One extreme case is: Outsourcer asks for "best rates", finds a patsy who will take them, and then will struggle to get the most bang for the buck. In many cases, the translator will be "talking to software" in the outsourcing client.

As long as there are plenty of desperados everywhere trying to eke a buck from their bilingual status, this is easy to find.

On the other end, a business partnership in translation is not so easy to build. It takes a professional attitude (and qualification, of course) on both sides. The result is a sustainable partnership where all issues and potential setbacks are shared and jointly overcome in the best way possible. The "best rate" is indeed the best... for both! It's a fair deal, no matter from which side you look at it.

In your specific case, I'll tell you one incident I had with a solid partner (an agency owner). She sent me a job, scanned PDFs, which involved some tricky formatting. I told her I could handle it well with PageMaker, a DTP app. Nope, the end-client wants a DOC file.

So what did we do? My OCR came out better than hers, so we decided to use it. Then she told me to get the translation on Word as close to it as I could without wasting too much time and effort. She self-claimed to be a "Word Wizard", so she'd have it neatly formatted in no time. I did my part, she did hers, and we quickly got what the client wanted. She paid me a fair translation rate two days later, both of us were happy and, most of all, the end-client was delighted!

This kind of relationship takes nurturing from both sides. I have a few partners like this, and do my best to keep them happy, about as much as I see them dooing on their side. This relationship, indeed, is not at all easy to find.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 00:12
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Reliable, experienced translators are certainly a rare commodity May 11, 2015

As in every profession, reliable, experienced, capable translators are a highly coveted commodity, and any PM or agency worth their salt should know the true value of this commodity.

PMs and agencies who don't understand this, rarely succeed in their business, especially in the upper end of the profession which is more quality-conscious than price-conscious.

PMs and agencies spent a lot of time and energy in hunting down talent, and once they have found one, the wiser of them, take every care to hold on to their finds. This is because, in our profession with no entry level barriers, there is no way to tell the difference between grain and chaff, unless you have put them in your mouth (!), and who would want to do this again and again, once you have found the grains between your teeth?

In fact, translator reliability is much like company brands - they gain in value as the time passes, and every translator should learn to value it and enhance it by consistently providing reliable, satisfactory output to his clients.


Direct link Reply with quote
 


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


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

A question for agencies and project managers: How easy is it to find good translators?

Advanced search







memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »



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