Any suggestions as to how I might make others feel more confident in my translation abilities?
Thread poster: AllenFreese

United States
Local time: 15:57
Chinese to English
+ ...
Apr 8, 2009

I'm just getting started as a translator, and my lack of experience is a definite drawback to just about everyone who might potentially want to work with me, even if I have communicated extensively with them in their language [the target language, & e.g., my most recent failure was with a potential Chinese client]
Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I might make others feel more confident in my abilities?

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-04-08 14:27 GMT]


Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:57
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Why should anybody give you a job? Apr 8, 2009

My headline might be blunt, but it is key to answering your question.
What do you offer? In which area(s) do you feel confident enough to handle a translation job - medical, technical, tourism? "Linguistics" as specialty and "Also works in Telecom". Might not be enough.
Looking at you profile I found no information that would convince me to give you a job. You have to promote the points that make it attractive to clients to give you even a small job. I might be wrong, but you look very young on your picture, some might get the message "very inexperienced". I would recommend to use a logo instead.

- Improve your profil (what are your unique selling points)
- Start contributing to the community (Kudoz/Forums - people will start regognizing you)
- Work hard to get some knowledge in a specialty
- Be patient

[Edited at 2009-04-08 14:36 GMT]


Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:57
French to English
+ ...
Attempt at a response Apr 8, 2009

AllenFreese wrote:

I'm just getting started as a translator, and my lack of experience is a definite drawback to just about everyone who might potentially want to work with me, even if I have communicated extensively with them in their language [the *target* language, & e.g., my most recent failure was with a potential Chinese client]

I assume that English is your target language (with Chinese as one of your source languages). It's good that you can communicate with potential clients in your source language but that is not all there is to it.

I had a look at your profile and some things are not clear to me. I do not know what the Middlebury-Monterey Language Program is, or what kind of level one attains by taking it. I doubt many of your potential clients will have heard of it.

I mean the following in the spirit of constructive criticism, and I apologise if it comes across as overly harsh: if you are studying translation, I strongly suggest you ask a tutor to take a look at the samples you have posted in your profile. I am not proficient in either of your source languages but I can see some very obvious problems with both of them.

I'd advise you to consider getting rid of the negative comments in your profile ("although I may lack experience...") and replace them with a positive demonstration of what you can do, including good clear English in your profile and error-free sample translations. It is also useful, as Siegfried says, to demonstrate that you have sufficient knowledge to be able to translate in a particular subject area.

(deleted the first half of my original answer as I had misunderstood your problem).

[Edited at 2009-04-08 15:39 GMT]


Maureen Wilkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:57
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Suggest very careful proofreading Apr 8, 2009

Hello Allen
I took a quick look at your profile to see if there was anything I could help you with.

I noticed several spelling errors on your profile (avantage, my self, oppurtunity). Maybe you need to reread and reread anything you send to potential clients in case this is one of the things letting you down. You are writing to a customer as a language professional, and therefore any customer who finds several spelling errors will throw your letter straight in the bin.

Kind Regards


United States
Local time: 15:57
Chinese to English
+ ...
thankyou, all Apr 8, 2009

Thankyou, all for your criticisms. It's wonderful to be able to glean advice from those who have been in this field for a long time.
Honestly I am not necessarily ready (in the sense of my lack of prior accomplishments and experience in this area) to tackle large jobs. Mainly i was hoping for smaller jobs which might begin to give me this kind of experience.
What I meant in my original post was that even though I was able to communicate successfully with the client in Chinese, ultimately it was my lack of experience which caused him to choose a different route when it came to the translator ( or in this case, proofreader) of his document.
Thanks so much for your time and advice.


Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:57
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Act professional Apr 8, 2009

AllenFreese wrote: lack of experience is a definite drawback to just about everyone who might potentially want to work with me...

If you have very little experience, then make up for it by acting very professional. If people won't be impressed by your experience, perhaps you can impress them with first impressions, with prompt responsiveness and with a generally business-like attitude.


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Some Suggestions Apr 8, 2009

In the first place you are a bit too honest about your lack of experience and put yourself down too much. If you want to sell yourself, you emphasize your strengths, not your weaknesses, but without false claims. I suspect that the Monterey-Middlebury program is a good one, I have heard of it, so that may be a plus.

But also take into account this saying in Spanish: "El que mucho abarca poco aprieta". If you want to do Spanish, Turkish, Chinese and others, that's fine, but remember, they are all difficult languages. You can never be the master of all. In fact you can start with your own native language and never stop. People who claim any number of languages do not impress me in the least. It's quality and depth that count, not quantity.

In fact, working with Spanish and improving there would probably be your best bet, the demand is right in front of you and constantly increasing. There is also a lot of competition so you will have to work hard to distinguish yourself from the herd. So what's new...


Kathryn Sanderson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:57
French to English
More suggestions /advice Apr 8, 2009

Hi, Allen,

I'm starting out as freelancer, too, but I have lots of experience writing resumes and cover letters. I know you can make yourself look much more professional in your profile. I looked at your profile, especially your "About Me" statement. I agree with what others have said. You need to answer the unspoken question "Why should I give my translation job to you?" and to make the statement "Look how good I am!"

You need to highlight your strengths and be specific about them...and definitely don't put yourself down or talk about your lack of experience. Of course you must be truthful, but you don't have to give details that emphasize your weaknesses.

Instead of putting "student" in your profile, list the post-secondary school(s) you attend or have attended, your major, and when you expect to graduate with which degree. You might want to add *brief* explanations of programs that might not be clear to people outside the US, such as "Middlebury/Monterrey." When discussing your job where you interact with the Hispanic community, say what it is, even if you just work in a convenience store: "I speak Spanish daily (or constantly) in my retail work in a heavily Hispanic community." Or: "Speaking Spanish is an integral part of my work....." If you've spent a significant amount of time in your target countries, specify how much.

As for actual translations, you have samples, which is a good thing, but the English versions can be improved and edited. I read Spanish, though not Chinese (I wish!), and I noticed some inaccuracies in your Spanish>English sample.

And finally, have you translated at all, even as a volunteer? There must be churches or community organizations where you live that would welcome someone who can translate their information into Spanish or Chinese. Volunteer work is a great way to get experience and "real" samples of your work.

There's lots and lots of info on line about writing CVs and cover letters, much of which is applicable to your profile statement. You might want to think of it as a brief cover letter.

Good luck!



Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:57
From the other side of the business Apr 8, 2009

Hi Allen,

I took a look at your profile and I would agree with the others that you should present yourself in a more confident and assertive manner. Right now, it is too grovelling. Don't begicon_smile.gif

On a practical level, I can't assign jobs to people with no experience, under our guidelines. It simply isn't worth it and my customers wouldn't stand for it either.

I would also recommend that you brush up on your English punctuation. Customers could well decide not to pay you or they might insist on a free revision or a discount for such errors. Would you be able to handle these kind of situations? It is no use saying then that you're only a newbie and can they please cut you some slack. Customers haven't got money to waste these days, as we all know.

I fully appreciate you want to get experience, but how about looking out for a (part-time?) job in a field that interests you and still allows you to use your linguistic skills? Then, you would have practical industry experience to complement your linguistic skillset. How about looking at multilingual websites and examining the translations therein? It is a worthwhile exercise, IMO.

Being fluent in a number of languages is not enough to be a successful translator, although you have a very interesting mix of languages.icon_smile.gif

Anyway - good luck!

[eta - afterthought] A translator has no way of knowing what's happening on the client's side. The selection criteria could be anything from prices, subject speciality and documented experience in such fields, TM leverage rates, previous working relationships with the project manager and so on.

[Edited at 2009-04-08 22:17 GMT]


Laura Tridico  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:57
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I agree with all of the above comments... Apr 8, 2009

At this moment, your profile doesn't do much to attract outsourcers. You need to carefully review your job experience to determine your strengths. Language skills aren't enough - you need to combine it with something practical, giving outsourcers a sense of your specialty areas. You are emphasizing your inexperience, which is a big mistake. You need to highlight your strengths in a confident, professional manner.

I reviewed your sample translations. Even though I don't speak your source languages, your translations seem to track the linguistic structure of the source text - in other words, they are somewhat awkward and unclear in places. After you complete a translation, you need to critically re-read it as if it were originally written in the target language to see if it passes muster. Better yet, read it out loud...then make the necessary changes to clarify ambiguities and honor the target language syntax. Translators are linguists, but the good ones are also excellent writers in their target language (and critical self-editors).

I certainly don't want to be harsh, but I think you need to address these issues to be successful in this field.



Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:57
German to English
+ ...
Agree with the above plus Apr 14, 2009

* Don't tell customers what you want out of an arrangement with them - they don't want to know. Tell them what you will offer them and how your service will benefit them. Imagine if you needed a filling and the dentist said he was interested in increasing his skills and abilities...

* If you are a Monterey graduate, definitely play this up. I think being one opened doors for me at first (this was back in 1997). Of course, not everyone knows Monterey, but it could work. There are many alumni out there in the translation world and MIIS has a great reputation.

* Use your Monterey connections! You paid for that education, now make it work for you. Network with co-students and former professors, get on the alumni lists, etc. That institution attracts fabulous people with great connections all over the world.

Good luck with your endeavors!

[Edited at 2009-04-14 12:36 GMT]


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

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

Any suggestions as to how I might make others feel more confident in my translation abilities?

Advanced search

PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

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 »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search