how can I get more experience?
Thread poster: Melinda Jarai-Molnar

Melinda Jarai-Molnar  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:39
German to Hungarian
+ ...
Oct 1, 2009

I have a serious problem, but I think all of us had the same problem when they were beginners.
I translate since more than 3 years but got not enough references. A feel that agencies do not contact me beacause of my lack of experience. But tell me, how can I get more experienced without having jobs?

I translate from German to Hungarian and vica versa (I know, it is not the biggest market), my specialization field is market research (wich is really specialized, but hard to find an agency, who deals with this field).

Please give me some advice, how I should act to get more experienced and to get more jobs?

I would be very happy, if you would judge my CV wich can be found on my profile page

Thank you in advance for your help


Daniela de Oliveira  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:39
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Trust your skills and your own initiative Oct 1, 2009


There seems to be little guidance when it comes to establishing ourselves as translators. There seems to be a lot that networking and agencies can do for you as long as you have broad and proven experience, but other than that we beginners seem to be nearly ignored.
I have the same problem than yours and we see ourselves in that "catch-22" trap - in order to get work one needs to have experience but experience is only gained when we can get work. Tricky.
I guess the main thing to improve your portfolio is to try and do some voluntary translations to charities, organisations who would be interested in your language pair (even if not in your specialisation) that cannot normally pay for them. And also, approach your potential customers yourself - the ones who would be interested in your translations -, without counting on an agency. Agencies tend to be more interested in their clients than in their workers - it makes sense in the business-like logic of things, at the end of the day the clients are the ones who pay. But, of course, keep contacting them, one never knows when an opportunity might arise.
Other than that keep trusting your skills and the power of your own initiative.

All best,



Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:39
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
luck ? Oct 1, 2009

Hi Melinda,

I guess the big european markter research companies have all selected their own agencies to work with.. so contacting an end-user might be a waste of time.
You can however find out who is doing the translations of the market research questionnaires in your language and contact them - do not expect good payment though...

You can try to kust "be available" when others are not (evenings / holidays / X-mas and stuff - with less competition and a deadline on their hand, clients are more likely to forget about their hiring standards (All translators have to have at least 5 yeasrs of XP)this will get your foot in the door and if you provide good translations they will continue to contact you.

Also extend your profile, add details on what type of market research you have done....
Is the client looking for some experience in ketchup, patato chips, contact lenses, or medical you need to be found (Market reseach + )...

As the business of market research generally creates lots of small additions and changes you may just say " I'll send and invoice once a month and include the wordcount of all the projects" - and not charge a minimum fee for each individual job)...

You may also want to differentiate a bit, add tourism, general business communications, or other related fields - you probabaly cannot make a living on just one subject matter...



Alice Crisan  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:39
English to Romanian
+ ...
more ideas Oct 1, 2009

Whenever you finish a job, ask your client for a reference.Also, one reference could be a personal one, I mean from your mentor,whose helping you with advice and the other one from a previous client.(A teacher from a course or somebody from your professional body).


John Fossey  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:39
Member (2008)
French to English
List the type of work done and for what type of client Oct 1, 2009

Another thing you can do is list the type of work you have done and the type of end user it was for. You don't name names or identify clients in this case, but if you go over the jobs you have done you might be able to list on your CV that you did, for example, a xxx word market study document for a xxx type of company, etc. You might be able to put together a listing that is more impressive than you realize, enough to persuade clients to give you a try.

[Edited at 2009-10-01 19:28 GMT]


Local time: 22:39
German to Dutch
+ ...
A little mental support Oct 1, 2009

Hi Melinda and active members,

I recognise this problem. I have the same.

Thanks to your contribution I can learn too. So you don't only help Melinda but also me!!

Antoinette Tromper


Darlene Penner  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:39
Spanish to English
Volunteering to translate is great for your CV Oct 1, 2009

I agree with Daniela that volunteering to translate for NGO's and not-for-profit agencies is a good way to get more experience translating. It does not pay, but it will look great on the CV. I have only done volunteer translating so far as I too am a beginner translator. I choose to work a different job for now and translate for free while I continue my translating courses and one day hopefully my CV with all the experience gained from volunteer translating will sell me to the client.


Eva Stoppa  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:39
English to German
+ ...
client "stealing"? Oct 2, 2009

[quote]Alice Crisan wrote:

Whenever you finish a job, ask your client for a reference.


the idea is very good. But I see a problem in giving my client`s names to a translation agency. Whenever I`m being asked for references, I can`t but ask myself why the asker wants to know who I translated for. Do they want my customer to become their customer by making them an offer which might be below my prices?

Maybe some of you have an idea why translation agencies want the names of customers.

Enjoy your day.



Local time: 22:39
French to Dutch
+ ...
Some ideas Oct 5, 2009

- become member of the German translator's association
- focus on German export products and have a look at the German export statistics or the Hungarian import statistics in order to know in which fields the goods are exported, and specialize in those fields.
- contact German companies in your country and Hungarian companies in Germany (again, in which field do the work?)
- if you are specialized in legal and economical translations, contact the German embassy in your country. Most of them have translators' lists.

Hope this helps.


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