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Off topic: Do you ever have to to reject a client's job offer because you are already working on a project?
Thread poster: AntaresTrans

AntaresTrans
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:34
English to German
+ ...
Oct 5

Dear ProZ-Community,

I was wondering if any of you ever have too much translation work and have to reject a client's job offer?

If yes, what do you think of the idea of giving these jobs to translators with less experience that want to gain first work experience?
Maybe you could pay them only a fraction of what you get from the client and in return give them valuable feedback (kind of like a mentor for them).
Of course, you would have to proofread their work thoroughly but this way you wouldn't have to reject the client's job offer.

What do you think of this idea? Would you generally be interested in this kind of collaboration? Do you have any tips on how to improve this idea?


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
Many potential problems involved in this Oct 5

I sometimes outsourced translations in the past, but I encountered many quality problems, and also late delivery of an important translation needed for a court case, even though the translator had had 3-4 weeks to translate a relatively short document. Many translators simply did not deliver a quality that corresponded to their diplomas and statuses as sworn translators, and I never tried to push their rates down.

I concluded that just as it is difficult for translators to find good outsourcers, it is difficult for outsourcers to find good translators, and then I stopped it completely. Too much hassle for too little gain.

If furthermore you outsource to translators with little experience, you risk having to spend almost as much time on reviewing the translation as if you'd translated it yourself, and it may still not end up having the style and tone it would have had if you had done it yourself. Don’t forget that it’s your reputation that is on the line even if you have outsourced a translation.

Then there are the legal and financial aspects.

You would need your client's permission to outsource it in many cases.

In Germany, it can be expensive for a freelance translator to outsource translations, as these guys found out: https://slator.com/industry-news/german-court-bars-translators-from-outsourcing-if-they-run-a-freelance-business/ . You may end up losing your fiscal and financial advantages of being a Freiberufler if you outsource in Germany. I’m not interested in experimenting with the limits.

In France, the autoentrepreneur status, or whatever they presently call it (they keep changing the rules for freelancers in France), does not allow the translator to deduct expenses, so they would have to pay taxes and social charges on the gross revenue from such translations, even if they pay for outsourcing it. To be able to deduct expenses, they need to set up a normal business, but then the administration of almost ten different social charges calculated in different ways makes the whole thing immensely more complicated.

This is too much of a minefield for my taste. I leave outsourcing to real outsourcers and let them handle all the problems.


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Artem Vakhitov  Identity Verified
Estonia
English to Russian
+ ...
Not a good idea Oct 5

It may take essentially the same time to proofread and edit the work of an inexperienced translator. I'm not saying it can't ever work, but I have to be pretty confident in the newbie, which is unlikely in the scenario you're describing. And mentoring is additional work which should be paid for.

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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:34
German to English
Outsourcing to strangers is risky Oct 5

AntaresTrans wrote:

If yes, what do you think of the idea of giving these jobs to translators with less experience that want to gain first work experience?



There are a number of issues to consider. You have to take into account whether the client would allow you to outsource work. In many cases, if not most, confidentiality agreements restrict sharing work.

You have a reputation to consider. Are you really willing to risk losing a client if the work you outsource needs to be redone and you have to deliver the job late?

I've outsourced work to inexperienced translators, but only short documents that might take less than an hour to redo if necessary. Anything longer goes to experienced colleagues whose work I've edited for agencies we've worked for. I've built up a small network of colleagues and from time-to-time we outsource to one another.

I'm speaking from personal experience, as someone who decades ago caused problems for a colleague. Although I had years of translating experience, I was totally unfamiliar with CAT tools and learned the meaning of GIGO first hand. I wound up offering a steep discount on my rate, and although he had outsourced a few jobs to me before, that was the end of our collaboration.


[Edited at 2017-10-05 15:48 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 09:34
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It all depends.... Oct 5

Personally, I normally only work for agencies, and I cannot pass on work. I do frequently tell clients I am not available - I have other work to do. It is not always translation, but there is no need to tell the agency that. My private life is none of their business, although I do let them know if I am at a conference or training day!

I do occasionally recommend a colleague, especially to smaller agencies, but normally, if I am not available, it is the client's business to find another translator.

Others do outsource work to colleagues. If they do, then there are various conditions which must be met: confidentiality first and foremost. Some translations are posted on the Internet as soon as they are delivered - marketing and press releases - but others are highly sensitive and should not be passed on without the client's consent. The outsourcer must be able to ensure that the client's privacy is protected.

The outsourcer also needs to be certain of the quality of the translation, and that it will be delivered in time for the necessary checking and editing etc.

The way to convince outsourcers that you are capable of taking on jobs like that is to make personal contacts, for instance at Powwows or networking events, anywhere you can meet other translators - and potential clients! In the long run, it is best to find your own clients.

However, I have worked very happily with colleagues who translate 'the other way round' - in my case Danish translators whose clients want translations into English.

If you can, take your breaks outside the main holiday periods, and market yourself when others are on holiday. Clients often need to look for new translators when their regulars are not available.

I always try to discourage beginners from working for low rates! It may be necessary, if you are working with an experienced colleague who is checking your work, but the end client should always pay the full price.

Either you deliver a fully professional translation that is fit for its purpose, or it is useless to the client. If it is fit for purpose, the value to the client is the same, regardless of who produced it. An inexperienced translator has to spend at least as much time on the translation as a more experienced colleague, and it can be hard enough to earn a living as a beginner.

Clients try to press prices as it is, for all sorts of reasons, so translators have to resist the pressure and insist on realisitc rates.

That is my usual answer to questions like yours.
Keep trying, and best of luck!


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Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:34
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
via the client Oct 5

I would not do this without asking the client's permission - in most cases, they specifically state I cannot outsource my jobs, and in all other cases they have still asked me to do this, presumably because they like my translations.
If I knew a new colleague struggling to get (enough) work, and I knew the quality of his/her work to be good, then I could suggest to the client that this particular colleague might be available, and that I would be happy to check/proofread the translation afterward. I would charge my usual rate for checking/proofreading and could either act as an intermediate or forward the details of this translator to the client.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:34
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Don't do it Oct 5

AntaresTrans wrote:
.....what do you think of the idea of giving these jobs to translators with less experience that want to gain first work experience?


You've just reminded me of the time I did a favour for a friend by getting him a job with the same small company for which I was working.

Within a few months he had ousted me and taken my job, and I became unemployed.

Moral: never help anybody by letting them compete with you.


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 16:34
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Can't imagine it working out Oct 5

If I have to turn down a job because I'm busy, the deadline is almost certainly a fairly tight one, because I would be able to fit it in otherwise.
If the deadline is tight, I certainly won't have the time to arrange a sub, wait for an email response, come to an agreement, wait for delivery, etc.
If I had that kind of time, I could just do the job myself.

This is even setting aside the issue that I rarely if ever trust anyone to respond to messages in a timely manner or take care of their responsibilities properly.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:34
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
I would not do that Oct 5

First, I would not pass work on to another translator without asking the outsourcer's permission.
Second, I would then become an outsourcer myself. Apart from potential fiscal problems, I would have to set the other translator up, answer any questions, proofread etc., in short it would take time away from the job I was doing originally.

When an outsourcer approaches me about a job and I'm already working on another job, I say so and recommend a colleague whom I trust and I know has the knowledge and experience to do the new job. If I passed on work to a less experienced translator, that could give me a bad name.

My suggestion is to get your own clients. Practice, attend webinars, spruce up your resumé and profile, find a proofreader native in your target language (it doesn't have to be a translator), and work yourself up just like we all had to do. I wish you all the best.


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inesec  Identity Verified
Latvia
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Or Oct 5

Tom in London wrote:

AntaresTrans wrote:
.....what do you think of the idea of giving these jobs to translators with less experience that want to gain first work experience?


You've just reminded me of the time I did a favour for a friend by getting him a job with the same small company for which I was working.

Within a few months he had ousted me and taken my job, and I became unemployed.

Moral: never help anybody by letting them compete with you.


Voltaire: 'Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies.'


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:34
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Same here Oct 5

Lincoln Hui wrote:
If I have to turn down a job because I'm busy, the deadline is almost certainly a fairly tight one, because I would be able to fit it in otherwise.
...
If I had that kind of time, I could just do the job myself.

These are my sentiments exactly. Then what others said about confidentiality, trust and so on.

The result is that yes, I do have to turn down work, typically once or twice a week. I don't see any easy way round this that would not, in some way, come back to damage my reputation or my business.

Regards,
Dan

[Edited at 2017-10-05 16:42 GMT]


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Ynes Mouche  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:34
Member (Oct 2017)
English to French
It is always a good idea Oct 5

AntaresTrans wrote:

Dear ProZ-Community,

I was wondering if any of you ever have too much translation work and have to reject a client's job offer?

If yes, what do you think of the idea of giving these jobs to translators with less experience that want to gain first work experience?
Maybe you could pay them only a fraction of what you get from the client and in return give them valuable feedback (kind of like a mentor for them).
Of course, you would have to proofread their work thoroughly but this way you wouldn't have to reject the client's job offer.

What do you think of this idea? Would you generally be interested in this kind of collaboration? Do you have any tips on how to improve this idea?


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Ynes Mouche  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:34
Member (Oct 2017)
English to French
I think it is always a good idea, especially when it is not a huge project Oct 5

AntaresTrans wrote:

Dear ProZ-Community,

I was wondering if any of you ever have too much translation work and have to reject a client's job offer?

If yes, what do you think of the idea of giving these jobs to translators with less experience that want to gain first work experience?
Maybe you could pay them only a fraction of what you get from the client and in return give them valuable feedback (kind of like a mentor for them).
Of course, you would have to proofread their work thoroughly but this way you wouldn't have to reject the client's job offer.

What do you think of this idea? Would you generally be interested in this kind of collaboration? Do you have any tips on how to improve this idea?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:34
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Far better alternatives exist Oct 5

AntaresTrans wrote:
kind of like a mentor for them

Mentoring is a great service to provide, but it needs to be set up properly, and structured as a programme. There's a programme available here on ProZ.com, so that's where inexperienced translators should go if they'd like a mentor.

The other way to help inexperienced translators is to accept proofreading jobs from them to check their work, and maybe give a few words of explanation at the same time. But that's when the translators find their own clients and pay for proofreading themselves, so it's slightly different.

I'm sure every one of us has to turn down work on a fairly regular basis simply because we aren't available. I try to say yes 99% of the time to my very best clients, but no successful freelancer sits around waiting for work very often. Unfortunately, very few clients offer jobs on a "do it when you have time" basis . But once I accept a job, my client expects me to do it, not someone else. Proofreading someone else's work is never going to give 100% the same result.


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:34
Member (2008)
French to English
Often happens Oct 5

AntaresTrans wrote:

I was wondering if any of you ever have too much translation work and have to reject a client's job offer?


It happens all the time.

If yes, what do you think of the idea of giving these jobs to translators with less experience that want to gain first work experience?


Not much. I have built a clientele on the basis of my unique experience. I have never been satisfied with the work I have outsourced to other translators - their background and experience just hasn't been a match.

...you wouldn't have to reject the client's job offer.



I haven't found this to be a problem when the client is an agency. They are used to translators becoming too busy to take on a job.

On the other hand, I do my best to accommodate the needs of my direct clients, because they are not as flexible as an agency - they expect you to be available. On the other hand, they can often be more flexible on deadlines.


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