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Big jobs that never come your way...
Thread poster: Heinrich Pesch

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 04:13
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Aug 28, 2006

Dear fellow translators!

Do you have experienced the following scenario?

An agency tells you about an important job for a famous corporation. The end-customer wants to make sure the translations will be done by a professional, native and qualified translator. So they require you to do a test translation, which will be paid according to your normal rates.

You accept the test, deliver it in time and send your invoice. The agency is pleased with your work, so is the end-customer. They have sent your text to their local branch and the people there value your translation highly. The agency pays your invoice.

That is the last you hear about it. Perhaps the same agency gives you more minor jobs, but the big one you are waiting for never comes your way. Upon your enquiries you get the answer: The customer is still finalizing the text, or: We haven’t got the order yet. Later you forget about it.

So what do you thing has happened?

Alternative 1: The job went to some other agency, which has a better translator.
Alternative 2: The customer did not need the translation after all.
Alternative 3: The agency got the big job, but gave it to a freelancer with lower rates, perhaps a non-native one. Using a native for editing the final result was acceptable, but of lower quality than your work would have been, but they saved money.

Does it sound familiar? Has it happened to you?

I appreciate you feedback.

Regards

Heinrich


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Yolande Haneder  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:13
German to French
+ ...
Alternative 4 Aug 28, 2006

The end client decided it is costing them too much and rather took a trainee from abroad in their own office to do the translation (easy for big corporations).

Some clients have no idea how much a big translation could cost.
They request for a quote and once they got the end price, get schocked and try to do it themselves.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:13
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Don't worry about it Aug 28, 2006

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
That is the last you hear about it. Perhaps the same agency gives you more minor jobs, but the big one you are waiting for never comes your way. Upon your enquiries you get the answer: The customer is still finalizing the text, or: We haven’t got the order yet. Later you forget about it.


Sometimes the agency is negotiating with the client to let them have the job. They need to know that when the client finally says "YES", they will have a translator who is able to do the job, and that's why they contacted you in the first place. But sometimes it takes the client a long, long time to "finalise" the job and give the go-ahead for the translation. Don't worry about it.


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Angela&Claudio
Italy
Local time: 03:13
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
It happened to me recently Aug 28, 2006

A couple weeks after having received positive feedback after the test, and been told to wait for the client to confirm the order... I was asked to reduce my rates in order to be given this important assignment.
I told the agency that I didn't think that was right since they had approved my rates before asking me to do the test ... and never heard from them again.


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Teresa Bento  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:13
Member
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It rings a bell Aug 28, 2006

Once, when I had very little experience, I got contacted by a national translation agency. After reading my CV, they e-mailed me with a suggestion: I would do a translation work for them and it would also serve as a test. They would pay me for it and after a week (which was, in their own words, the time that the evaluation usually took) they would tell me the results. Obviously, if it was positive, they would contact me for an interview to fill a job vacancy.

The thing is, I did the so-called test and I got paid for it. Other than that, I had no more "feedback" from them. They didn't care to tell me the test result (and I had the right to know, even if it wasn't positive. At least, for respect!), they just sent me an e-mail after I asked them several times what was happening, telling me it would take several more days to know the result. In other words, I had to force them to answer me, and they didn't even answer my question.

I don't think my test was of poor quality. However, I would have accepted if they just bothered to tell me the truth: that they had found someone else (probably with more experience) to fill the job vacancy. It was perfectly reasonable. It's the lack of respect that makes me angry.

Until today, I have never heard a single word from them.

Sometimes freelancers (and specially young people in this area) are treated like this.

Regards,

Teresa



[Edited at 2006-08-28 10:52]


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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:13
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Always look at the bright side.... Aug 28, 2006

I was asked to do a test translation for a good customer. They were bidding for a contract with a big multi-national. I was promised, that if they get the contract, they would use my services and bla....blaaa......
I did the test (250 words) and voila, about 3 month later I got an email, "Congratulations, we have been choosen by this large company.......bla, bla, bla....and expect huge amounts of work from next month on. We will only have to settle some final finacial negotiations, but the deal is signed".

I never heard again from this customer.

BUT

about 2 month later I got the first batch of documents from this huge client via another one of the agencies I work for, and they are paying a higher rate.

So for me, the big job disappeared and reappeared with better conditions somewhere else.

So, "always look at the bright side....".

Siegfried

@Jo
no test was required, but I had translated many projects for them already and I was tested when I started working for them. Tests are IMO okay, by the way, the other company paid me for the test piece, which is also okay.

IMO testing should be done more seriously. I am regularly confronted, with proofreading jobs, where it is obvious that the testing (if it was performed) did not work. Not even the basics (like" do not translate the titles of published references, check if your sentences make any sense, differnces between "power" and "voltage" or "average values" and "median values" etc.) are there.

For me it is clear that some companies only have a test process to comply with ISO 9000 or whatever quality management system, but it never works in reality. And it is also getting clearer, that I'll stop proofreading for these companies.





[Edited at 2006-08-28 13:13]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:13
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Alternative 5 Aug 28, 2006

They get, say a 30,000-word job, chop it into 100 300-word test pieces, send it to as many translators as necessary until they get 100 test pieces done, then just pay one translator to proofread the lot. I wonder if that ever happens.

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Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:13
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Tests or work Aug 28, 2006

Siegfried did you get the job with the other agency at higher rates after doing a test or with no test?

Heinrich, I know for a big job with a paid test it’s hard to say no, but personally I reckon tests don’t get you jobs.

Why not try running a poll, see what other people think?

How often does a test get you a job?
Every time
Often
Occasionally
Almost never
Never


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Ana Naglić  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 03:13
Member (2005)
English to Croatian
+ ...
Yes, it does. Aug 28, 2006

Jack Doughty wrote:

They get, say a 30,000-word job, chop it into 100 300-word test pieces, send it to as many translators as necessary until they get 100 test pieces done, then just pay one translator to proofread the lot. I wonder if that ever happens.


It does. At least that happened some 4-5 years ago, when I was fresh into this business, and the local (Croatian) "agency" sent me a part of a book. The book was one of those 100-pages-self-help-business-growth nonsense, so if they devided it into 10-15-20 test files, they could have got their translation for free. I would't talk much about its quality, though.
Whenever the agencies have "strict" test deadlines/treat them as "rush jobs", it's a bit fishy, IMHO. If they are expecting a large client, they would give a reasonable deadline with up to 200 words (from my experience).


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 12:13
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
What makes me laugh is when....... Aug 28, 2006

an agency sends you a test for a large project and then says that due to the huge response and the more qualified and experienced translators blah blah and then.....a few days later other agencies contact you for the exact same project!

Why can't they just bite the bullet and say "your test was great but unfortunately our agency marked up the rate so much that we didn't get it and therefore can't offer it to you."....and then they go on to say..."but we'll keep your details on record for any future projects."

I'd love to know the average percentage mark up agencies add on to what they pay freelancers:)

Best wishes,
Mark


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 20:13
English to Russian
+ ...
Hi Heinrich Aug 28, 2006

There is a similar thread where, I believe, the right answer has been given already.

I agree that any of your options could be valid but this is what, I think, is the deal in most cases, particulary when "famous corporations" are invloved:

These agencies are wild hunters, normally low on the market, and they do not have anything at hand. The jobs are marked as "potential" and they collect superb resumes to put together a bid package in hope to grab on to the project that will place them on the road to higher grounds. It's no big deal to prepare a test on a subject that may not belong to the actual project. They never get it after all.

I would never consider any "potential jobs" with the unknown agency. At least, "updating the database" sounds more honest to me. Established agencies bid and lose too, but they already have their own team to show off, and later the newcomers are invited for the overflow. In these cases the actual project and the fact that the agency indeed ownes it is well-known on the market, again, if the global monsters are the paying customers.

As an example - yesterday I received an email with the offer from the Proz colleague. Message entitled "Immediate job", existing project, very specific subjects and a 150-words test on it, project specs for me, rates, confirmation - all in 2 short messages clear as a spring water. This is the one to accept! I'm still debating "amongst myself":-) as he requires Wordfast... Hate it!!!!!!!!!!! If my test is OK and I take it this would be my 3rd project via Proz in 4+ years. I was too busy elsewhere and missed oil for a while, time to catch up and refresh my memory while I have a short window - Ernesto messed up my prime schedule:-)

One more thing - big corporations NEVER require any tests from individual translators. They are too big for that:-) Many of them have opened their own translation offices with translators and editors, and their PM subcontracts other agencies but they have other ways to check how solid the potential subcontractor is. Instead they verify the agency's portfolio. Sometimes a long-term contcart would be signed after the first delivered job. In case of occasional bad jobs after that a corporate PM calls the agency's PM and says - please do not use this translator any more.

And another thing - no decent agency in a right mind would put a project with "famous corporation" at risk by scraping the bottom after showing the initial quality.

Best,
Irene

[Edited at 2006-08-28 16:01]

[Edited at 2006-08-28 16:19]


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:13
German to English
Similar experience Aug 28, 2006

A number of years ago an agency I worked for approached me regarding a sizeable -- and in my mind very interesting -- job that would have kept a team of translators busy for two years or more. I prepared a sample (paid) translation which was approved by both the agency and potential end customer (who was up-front about taking bids from a number of agencies). The agency then asked me to give thought to assembling a team of academic translators and editors in the event the project got the final go-ahead from the end client. After I had made a few inquiries among my colleagues, I got the bad news: the potential client had awarded the contract to an overseas firm paying a rate that wouldn't have covered my electric bill for the job.

Just another unfortunate aspect of the words for money biz.



[Edited at 2006-08-28 18:18]


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Piotr Wargan  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:13
English to Polish
+ ...
Yes it has Aug 28, 2006

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

An agency tells you about an important job for a famous corporation. The end-customer wants to make sure the translations will be done by a professional, native and qualified translator. So they require you to do a test translation, which will be paid according to your normal rates.

You accept the test, deliver it in time and send your invoice. The agency pays your invoice.

That is the last you hear about it. Does it sound familiar? Has it happened to you?



Heinrich


A similar scenario in several varieties:
- a sample of a huge catalogue (ending in just a sample and a paid invoice)
- a free sample and the agency's client has decided that they need a real professional in the field (no invoice because it was a free work
- a free test for a big job, and when you ask the agency about the client's opinion they say that the client remains silent and they are confused too.



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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 03:13
French to Dutch
+ ...
Alternative 6 & 7 Aug 28, 2006

Alternative 6: there is no job, but the agency wants (even: needs!!) a "good cv" in order to make a good impression on a client or to submit a tender.

Alternative 7: the question comes from a colleague who wants to know how much you will be invoicing or how you answer those questions.

In each case, as says SARMB above, there is a clear relation with the ISO9001 procedures, because I never received such questions before, but since three or four months I had several, which were never followed by the job of course. I really had the impression that the agency didn't want my translations, but my cv and references. And the QA procedures imposed by the end client don't verify which translators are translating or have translated the job.

[Edited at 2006-08-28 20:55]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 04:13
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
@NMR Aug 29, 2006

NMR wrote:

Alternative 6: there is no job, but the agency wants (even: needs!!) a "good cv" in order to make a good impression on a client or to submit a tender.

Alternative 7: the question comes from a colleague who wants to know how much you will be invoicing or how you answer those questions.

In each case, as says SARMB above, there is a clear relation with the ISO9001 procedures, because I never received such questions before, but since three or four months I had several, which were never followed by the job of course. I really had the impression that the agency didn't want my translations, but my cv and references. And the QA procedures imposed by the end client don't verify which translators are translating or have translated the job.

[Edited at 2006-08-28 20:55]


You might be interested to read the thread of last week:
http://www.proz.com/topic/53788?pg=e

And my most recent reply.

Regards
Heinrich


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