Recruitment of newly-qualified translators
Thread poster: J Crossfield

J Crossfield  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:19
French to English
+ ...
Oct 16, 2012

Now awaiting the results of my Masters in Translation Studies, I am beginning to contact agencies with a view to finding freelance translation work (French & Spanish - English). The list of such agencies in existence here in the UK and elsewhere is bewildering and I wondered if colleagues would recommend a scatter-gun approach or a more targeted approach, beginning with those geographically close and working out. Is it usually the case that locally-based agencies tend to be more receptive or is geographical location generally of no importance?

Any pointers would be very gratefully received.

[Edited at 2012-10-16 14:40 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:19
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I would recommend.... Oct 16, 2012

....beginning with UK-based agencies since you won't lose money on currency exchange and bank charges. And UK agencies tend to pay promptly, which cannot always be said for agencies in other countries.

[Edited at 2012-10-16 15:18 GMT]


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Jenae Spry  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:19
French to English
Start with agencies in your city Oct 16, 2012

Since you are new to the industry it would be hard for you to contact agencies about a specialization but by contacting agencies that are local, it gives you some common ground and something to say in your e-mail/cover letter that won't look like spam.

I'm not sure what distance you would exactly consider "local" in the UK but here in the US, I'd say about a 2-hour drive would still be considered local enough to mention it in an e-mail of this kind.

Welcome!


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:19
French to English
+ ...
Expand your ProZ profile too Oct 16, 2012

Hi Janice,

By all means start with local agencies and even local companies, but I'd advise expanding your Proz profile too. I notice that you don't have education listed amongst your specialist fields, although if you've taught for many years, you're probably perfectly equipped to do so! I don't know how long you've been registered on ProZ, but answering Kudoz questions in your fields and moving up the rankings means that when clients are looking for a translator in your fields, you'll come higher up the lists than people with fewer points. That way, clients are more likely to contact you directly. Adding more key words can also help, as again you come up in more searches - maybe translate the key words you have into your respective languages too as foreign agencies are likely to use their own languages to search.

Networking at local ITI events/ ProZ powwows is a great way of getting to know other translators and getting recommendations too - I'm far more likely to recommend someone I've met and got on with, than a complete stranger.

All the best and good luck - it can be a slow process at first, but just keep on trying!

Claire


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:19
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Target agencies Oct 16, 2012

Claire Cox wrote:
I notice that you don't have education listed amongst your specialist fields, although if you've taught for many years, you're probably perfectly equipped to do so!

Yes, I noticed that, too.

I don't know how long you've been registered on ProZ, but answering Kudoz questions in your fields and moving up the rankings means that when clients are looking for a translator in your fields, you'll come higher up the lists than people with fewer points. That way, clients are more likely to contact you directly.

I don't want to sound like a saleswoman (and I don't get commission, honest), but the most important way of getting some visibility would be to amass some KudoZ points in conjunction with paid membership. All paying members are listed first, sorted by KudoZ in the specified language pair/subject area. In your pairs, the highest non-paying member entry would be many pages down.

Also, if you want to contact agencies in any number, you would benefit from the free and unlimited access to the Blue Board that membership brings you. You shouldn't automatically trust a company with a good BB record, but at least it sets alarm bells ringing if there are more than one or two isolated negative comments.

I think Jenae's reason for contacting local agencies is valid - they should be a top target. But after that, you should consider carefully which agencies you contact. You already have an idea of how many there are. Don't start at "A", start by targeting the ones you get good vibes about. You can get a little information on an agency here on ProZ.com, and often a whole lot more from their website. If it's full of typos, quality isn't important to them; if they're offering clients translations at about the same rate as you want they're clearly not for you, etc.

Two other pieces of advice:
- Make sure the agency is happy to accept applications, otherwise you will technically be spamming (this was discussed a short while ago on these forums)
- Make sure you keep a detailed record of who you contacted, when, and what you said (in essence). I didn't when I first started, and I lived to regret it! They sometimes get in touch months or even years later, and it's very embarrassing not to have a clue who they are or what you quoted as a rate!


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 17:19
Chinese to English
Can use location, but it's not very relevant Oct 16, 2012

You need to start somewhere with your applications, so you might as well start local. But I just had a quick look through my records, and found that I've translated for over 30 agencies, and I've met two of them. Most I've only ever had email contact with. So I don't think geographical location is a very relevant criterion.

It's difficult to think of other good criteria, but you could think about looking in your specialist areas. Any agency that makes a big thing of translating in a subject you know is worth a go.

My strategy was just apply for everything on Proz (that I was competent to do). Not a pretty approach, but it's worked for me.


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:19
French to English
+ ...
Paid membership Oct 16, 2012

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I don't want to sound like a saleswoman (and I don't get commission, honest), but the most important way of getting some visibility would be to amass some KudoZ points in conjunction with paid membership. All paying members are listed first, sorted by KudoZ in the specified language pair/subject area. In your pairs, the highest non-paying member entry would be many pages down.



Yes, I second that too, Sheila. I must admit that I didn't have paid membership for the first couple of years I used the site and was still contacted directly by a number of agencies who have gone on to become very good and regular customers, but I work in a very specialised field, so that probably helps. The increased visibility and Blue Board access are well worth having however and the minimal cost of membership is tax-deductible and has paid for itself many times over in my case. Looking at my client list now, I would say that at least a third of my clients contacted me via ProZ in the first instance. Others have come via word of mouth and a few via the ITI, so it definitely pays to network.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 14:49
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Geography is of the least importance Oct 17, 2012

I haven't met any of my clients and they are in every continent. The beauty of of being a freelance translator is that with a good internet connection you can sit anywhere in the world and work for clients located anywhere. Of course you must check their credentials and here the blue board entries come in very handy. You must always make it a point to refer to the BB before contacting any client.

The translation industry is getting diversified with the more price-sensitive components moving to low cost areas like Czechoslovakia, China, Thailand, etc. The higher end continues to be in the US. Japan, Australia, UK, Germany and Spain have some very good international agencies who work in most languages. You should aim at having a few good clients in all these geographies for an evenly distributed clientele (there is much sense in the old saying of not putting all eggs in one basket).

While you are making the initial forays and do not have your hands too full with work, make the best use of your time by polishing up your resume and getting familiar with cat tools, they are becoming indispensable now, not mainly because they are useful, but because clients demand them.

Choose one or two areas in which to specialize and acquire supporting reference material like glossaries, dictionaries, online resources etc. for these areas.

While you are at it you can even take up a bit of free translation work, just to gain experience, but don't spent too much time over this.

It usually takes six to twelve months of perseverance to be set up and going, so don't be discouraged by initial lack of work. Work will eventually start coming, and yours is a very active language pair.


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J Crossfield  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:19
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Oct 17, 2012

Thank you all for the very valuable advice. I have compiled a list of all those nuggets of information and will set about dealing with them asap.

It is comforting to know that everyone else appears to have been through this stage and finally made it.


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Gerard Moore  Identity Verified
French to English
First forays Oct 24, 2012

Hi,

I hope it is ok if I hi-jack this thread, but it seems relevant to my situation as well

I got some very useful advice from people on the UK forum, and one thing mentioned was applying for any small jobs you see arise. However, whenever I look at the jobs board on this site, the tasks are either members only or get snapped up extremely quickly... As i am only just starting out, would it really be worth applying for membership at this stage? Or should I just wait until suitable jobs come up? As I am new, I do not have an area of specialisation, so that limits the jobs more. Any pointers for this newbie would be very welcome Thank you!

Gerard


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Anne Greaves  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:19
French to English
Scatter gun approach Oct 27, 2012

I must admit I used the scatter gun approach both with UK and French agencies when I started out and ended up with a host of French clients and very little in the UK. Don't know whether this is because the UK agencies are already overloaded with translators or there is more work in France, but evidently proximity is not an issue.

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