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Justifying Years of Experience for Online Freelance Translators
Thread poster: JEFHTRA
JEFHTRA  Identity Verified
Cameroon
Local time: 18:41
English to French
+ ...
Feb 25, 2016

Hi everybody,

How can online freelance translators working from home for foreign outsourcers justify their experience? Given that they usually spend a few days or weeks without getting any translation project, how can they assess the number of years they have been working as a full-time translator and prove it, especially in countries where there is no legal framework that regulates their activity? Also, many outsourcers use CAT tools and indicate wordcounts as: new words, low fuzzies and high fuzzies. How can a freelance translator assess the total wordcount covered over the years?

Thanks for your answers.

Regards,

Jean

[Edited at 2016-02-25 01:00 GMT]


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JL01  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:41
English to French
+ ...
invoices Feb 25, 2016

by showing invoices

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JEFHTRA  Identity Verified
Cameroon
Local time: 18:41
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Invoices become bulky over the years Feb 25, 2016

It's an idea, but invoices covering 9 years are bulky. How to convert them into years of full-time work as a translator?

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:41
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Assess or prove? Feb 25, 2016

To assess the time you've spent, you need to have access to some statistics. They can either be in the form of the number of words translated or the amount of money invoiced. Hopefully, there's a correlation between the two that will enable you to derive the other figure, and in the best case scenario you will already have both figures available. If you have neither, it wil be tricky to assess, much less prove.

This is precisely why I have a neat little spreadsheet that I populate with information about each and every job. This isn't an overhead - most of the information is needed for the invoice, my accountant, and/or my work process (so I don't forget to do the work on time!). Each line has at least the wordcount, unit rate and total price. If I'm charging by the hour, the wordcount may be real or estimated. Various running totals plus averages and ratios are produced automatically. It then takes me just a few minutes to find the answers to all sorts of questions. I don't offer Trados-style discounts but I can see that would call for some slight tweaks to the spreadsheet.

Proof of time and wordcount is more difficult to come by. I suppose you'd need to send a file containing several years worth of invoices and/or tax returns. But that information is highly confidential.


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:41
Member
English to Italian
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Fuzzy matches Feb 25, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:

This is precisely why I have a neat little spreadsheet that I populate with information about each and every job.


This is exactly what I do as well.

However, if you need to really prove this to someone, then I guess it's not nearly as sufficient. Invoices would be a better proof, but, as Sheila was saying, they are confidential, and not just from your point of view, but also your clients' (e.g. the name of your client combined with the project name and rate).

One thing you could do, especially if you have some "big" clients you regularly work for, is calculate how many words you translated for them (or ask them if they have such figure ready), and then ask them to "certify" you translated X words over the course of Y years for them.

As for fuzzy matches, in my experience, in addition to the detailed breakdown you also usually get a "weighted" word count, but even if you don't have that, you can easily calculate/approximate it yourself by dividing the invoiced amount by the full per word rate for that project/client.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:41
English to Portuguese
+ ...
What's the point? Feb 25, 2016

A friend of mine was my classmate from kindergarten through senior high, we even changed schools together in the junior/senior high school shift. Both of us moved on to study Engineering, however at different universities.

His mother passed away at old age a couple of weeks ago. I'm mentioning this because I recall her as an unusually bad driver.

Once she drove us to some out-of-town venue. As I learned, she had just changed cars, moving from a 3-speed Chevrolet Bel Air to a 4-speed VW Beetle. As she took the car on the highway with the engine roaring at full blast on third, I was the first one ever to advise her that the VW had a fourth gear!

I was told that once her foot slipped on the brake, and she smashed her car into someone else's. Trying to evade blame, she immediately stepped out and addressed the other vehicle's driver, "Sir, I have been driving for 22 years..." to which he immediately rebutted "And you haven't learned it yet!"

All this is to say that there MIGHT be someone willing to state "I have been translating for XX years..." and deserving exactly the same rebuttal. I see them come and go all the time.

Last time I moved home I found my very first professional translation, dated 1973. Have I improved ever since? I hope so, however I've definitely widened my coverage area immensely. Nevertheless, right now, I still wouldn't change anything in that very first pro gig of mine. If I were to redo it right now, I'd do exactly the same. It was a technical manual. In retrospective, I only began translating anything other than technical manuals almost ten years later.


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JEFHTRA  Identity Verified
Cameroon
Local time: 18:41
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Have a "big" client certify Feb 25, 2016

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

Sheila Wilson wrote:

This is precisely why I have a neat little spreadsheet that I populate with information about each and every job.


This is exactly what I do as well.

However, if you need to really prove this to someone, then I guess it's not nearly as sufficient. Invoices would be a better proof, but, as Sheila was saying, they are confidential, and not just from your point of view, but also your clients' (e.g. the name of your client combined with the project name and rate).

One thing you could do, especially if you have some "big" clients you regularly work for, is calculate how many words you translated for them (or ask them if they have such figure ready), and then ask them to "certify" you translated X words over the course of Y years for them.

As for fuzzy matches, in my experience, in addition to the detailed breakdown you also usually get a "weighted" word count, but even if you don't have that, you can easily calculate/approximate it yourself by dividing the invoiced amount by the full per word rate for that project/client.


Having main clients certify how many words have been translated for them over a specified period of time is a possible solution I will try. However, some clients might be reluctant for confidentiality reasons. For example, I have recently contacted two former "big" clients who had a mutually satisfactory collaboration with me and asked them for reference letters. None of them replied! The fact that our cooperation ended a few years ago, without any conflict, did not seem to be an excuse...

[Edited at 2016-02-25 11:14 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:41
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
There are generalities, and specific cases Feb 25, 2016

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
All this is to say that there MIGHT be someone willing to state "I have been translating for XX years..." and deserving exactly the same rebuttal. I see them come and go all the time.

I certainly agree that a bland statement of words or years is far from useful on its own. But let's assume that quality can be demonstrated in other ways, maybe by samples of recent work. In that case I'm sure it would be useful to be able to say that this isn't the totality of your experience, in fact you've done over N (thousand) words in exactly the same subject area, and translated a total of N (million) words over the last N years as a pro. I think that's far stronger than your statement, and a useful thing to be able to say to a potential client.


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:41
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Just an example... Feb 25, 2016

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

What's the point?


... from ATA's eligibility requirements for certification:

"Translators and interpreters with a bachelor’s degree or higher:

Proof of a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree (in any field) and
Evidence of at least two years' work as a translator or interpreter, which may include either of the following:
- Letters of reference from clients or supervisors showing two years' work experience; or
- Copies of records of business activity such as Schedule C tax forms, corporate tax returns, 1099s, invoices, or work orders.

Translators or interpreters with less than a bachelor's degree:
Evidence of at least five years' work as a translator or interpreter, which may include either of the following:
- Letters of reference from clients or supervisors showing five years' work experience; or
- Copies of records of business activity such as Schedule C tax forms, corporate tax returns, 1099s, invoices, or work orders."
http://www.atanet.org/certification/eligibility_requirementsform.php


And I guess we all came across clients/agencies who specifically search for translators with X years of experience...


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JEFHTRA  Identity Verified
Cameroon
Local time: 18:41
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The point is: sharing experience with colleagues Feb 25, 2016

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:



I was told that once her foot slipped on the brake, and she smashed her car into someone else's. Trying to evade blame, she immediately stepped out and addressed the other vehicle's driver, "Sir, I have been driving for 22 years..." to which he immediately rebutted "And you haven't learned it yet!"


The aim of the question is to see how others handle such an issue. I considered most of their proposals before receiving their answers and I have never been confronted to the problem I'am trying to solve before. The proof I'am looking for is not to be shown to a linguist or translation company but to authorities out of the translation industry. It's therefore not a matter of "And you haven't learned it yet!". A reply straight to the point would have been more beneficial to all.


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Dani Karuniawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 03:41
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Translation sample Feb 25, 2016

jeanherv wrote:

Hi everybody,

How can online freelance translators working from home for foreign outsourcers justify their experience? Given that they usually spend a few days or weeks without getting any translation project, how can they assess the number of years they have been working as a full-time translator and prove it, especially in countries where there is no legal framework that regulates their activity? Also, many outsourcers use CAT tools and indicate wordcounts as: new words, low fuzzies and high fuzzies. How can a freelance translator assess the total wordcount covered over the years?

Thanks for your answers.

Regards,

Jean

[Edited at 2016-02-25 01:00 GMT]


Translation sample is a better assessment tool instead of CV.


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JEFHTRA  Identity Verified
Cameroon
Local time: 18:41
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Justifying the time spent not the quality Feb 25, 2016

Dani Karuniawan wrote:

jeanherv wrote:

Hi everybody,

How can online freelance translators working from home for foreign outsourcers justify their experience? Given that they usually spend a few days or weeks without getting any translation project, how can they assess the number of years they have been working as a full-time translator and prove it, especially in countries where there is no legal framework that regulates their activity? Also, many outsourcers use CAT tools and indicate wordcounts as: new words, low fuzzies and high fuzzies. How can a freelance translator assess the total wordcount covered over the years?

Thanks for your answers.

Regards,

Jean

[Edited at 2016-02-25 01:00 GMT]


Translation sample is a better assessment tool instead of CV.




Once again, I'am not trying to justify how good am I at translating but for how long I have been working as a full-time translator. This justification should be legally backed. It has nothing to do with applying for translation jobs.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:41
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Samples and NDAs Feb 25, 2016

Dani Karuniawan wrote:

Translation sample is a better assessment tool instead of CV.


It is often hard to provide "good" samples when we are under NDAs; only material that has been publicly released can be used, and yet not always.

As most of the content in my web site is available in BOTH my source and my target languages, I offer it as a sample of my writing and translation in them, stating that I have personally written each and every word there. If what a prospect finds there is not deemed good enough, it's very likely that my output won't be either.


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:41
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
If that's all there is to it... Feb 25, 2016

jeanherv wrote:

The point is: sharing experience with colleagues


... and, as you say, it's not about proving your experience to authorities or clients, then I actually don't see the problem... I'd simply say "I have been translating for X years and translated roughly Y million words". But I guess I'm missing something here...


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Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:41
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
NDAs Feb 25, 2016

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

It is often hard to provide "good" samples when we are under NDAs; only material that has been publicly released can be used, and yet not always.

As most of the content in my web site is available in BOTH my source and my target languages, I offer it as a sample of my writing and translation in them, stating that I have personally written each and every word there. If what a prospect finds there is not deemed good enough, it's very likely that my output won't be either.


Just out of curiosity, but is that really OK? I always thought that, even when both source and translation have been published, the "Confidential Information" provision still applies, linked to the identity of the individual who carried out the translation... (unless the client has expressly agreed otherwise)

[Edited at 2016-02-25 12:38 GMT]


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