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Seeking opinions on test translations
Thread poster: Ondira

Ondira  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:12
Member (2012)
English to German
Oct 24, 2012

I have searched the forum for this topic, and now I am more confused than ever That's why I decided to start my own thread. It's about the issue of test translations. My experience is that when I do the 300, 500 or sometimes even 1,000 words or more words in 80% of the cases I never hear back from the companies asking for the test. In the beginning I always checked via mail what was happening, and in most cases I got the answer they hadn't reviewed the test translations yet. I ask myself why would someone ask for a test translation if he doesn't intend to review it for months? And if a company expects applicants to invest time why don't they at least show the decency to send a form mail to say thanks, but no thanks? From the other 20% where I hear back it's only half that gets back positive, i.e. I get an assignment. That's ok, of course.

Yes, I know - a test translation is only half an hour's work, or sometimes a bit more, but in the end it adds up to quite a lot of time and I am coming to think that I am better off doing some real work during this time. I.e. I am considering not doing test translations any more. At least not the bigger ones with more than 200 words.

Since I am not certified and a career changer I thought those tests were the best way to proof that I can do the work, but looking back I see that for most of the assignments I found here (thanks very, very much, proz.com, BTW; this membership really paid off!!) I did not have to do a big test translation.

What are your experiences? Thanks for letting me know.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:12
Member (2008)
Italian to English
100% Oct 24, 2012

Ondira wrote:

..... in 80% of the cases I never hear back


In my case it's 100%. I don't do them any more.

If I were cynical I'd say they send a different piece of text to 100 different translators, then stitch all the pieces together to get a free translation of a whole document.

But of course I'm not cynical, so I wouldn't say that.



[Edited at 2012-10-24 09:06 GMT]


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Meta Arkadia
Local time: 13:12
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Half an hour? Oct 24, 2012

Ondira wrote:
when I do the 300, 500 or sometimes even 1,000 words or more words

Yes, I know - a test translation is only half an hour's work

If you translate (more than) 300 words in half hour, I'm not surprised you don't hear from the agency again.

I can only boast some 20 years of experience, but it takes me on average an hour to do 400 words, longer for a test translation because that's likely to be a new subject. Positive response: 100%. Almost.

Cheers,

Hans


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ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 09:12
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Paid Test Translations Oct 24, 2012

My own experience with test translations is very similar to yours. That is why I do not do them anymore, either. At least not the free test translations. A good compromise is PAID test translations. You can always ask the company that you will do the test translation provided they pay for it. If the company is legitimate and serious about you, they should accept it. If they do not accept paid test translation, it is definitely their loss, not yours. This is the way I look at it.

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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:12
French to German
+ ...
Investment... or charge? Oct 24, 2012

ATIL KAYHAN wrote:

My own experience with test translations is very similar to yours. That is why I do not do them anymore, either. At least not the free test translations. A good compromise is PAID test translations. You can always ask the company that you will do the test translation provided they pay for it. If the company is legitimate and serious about you, they should accept it. If they do not accept paid test translation, it is definitely their loss, not yours. This is the way I look at it.


Many agencies will tell you that the "client" asked for a free sample and that they cannot pay you when the client does not pay them for the test.

They see it as a charge and not as an investment, which from my point of view is a very bad start.

What I do in such cases is to link them to my Proz.com profile: samples are available there.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:12
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Generally speaking Oct 24, 2012

The more tests, questionnaires, forms and proof of identity/qualifications/experience... an agency requires, the less likely they are to give you any decently-paid work. Maybe there are exceptions, but that's my experience.

I don't have an absolute rule about free test translations - I do them occasionally if:-
- max. 250 words
- delivery date to be decided by me
- in one of my specialist areas
- my rate and payment terms have already been explicitly agreed to.

That last one is perhaps the most important. You can never be sure of getting work after a test, but doing a test then being presented with work at half your normal rate is not something you want to make a habit of. In fact, I make sure they are prepared to pay my rates early on in the process: no point filling out a registration form otherwise.


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 02:12
Member (2008)
French to English
Clientele Oct 24, 2012

I rarely do free tests any more, although I did more when starting my practise. I limit them to 200 words and tell those who request them that unpaid work has to be queued behind paid work. Strangely, I rarely get to the unpaid work.

My experience is that they have not been entirely useless. Some of my best customers have come from an unpaid test, however, it's true that probably 80% of them were a waste of time.

The key seems to be to develop a loyal clientele, then the need for things like free tests will fall away.


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Ondira  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:12
Member (2012)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Oct 24, 2012

Thank you very much - those opinions are of great help to me.

@ Hans: There are smaller test translations as well. Of course I didn't mean to say I do 1,000 words in half an hour. I wish I could It's good to hear that you have made positive experiences with test translations - although most people don't. So I will consider very carefully, in future, whether to do this unpaid work or not.

Thank you, everyone!


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:12
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Irrelevant Oct 24, 2012

Meta Arkadia wrote:
Ondira wrote:
when I do the 300, 500 or sometimes even 1,000 words or more words

Yes, I know - a test translation is only half an hour's work

If you translate (more than) 300 words in half hour, I'm not surprised you don't hear from the agency again.

I think you are probably judging based upon your own experience and language pairs, while other people could have other experiences and still have a good success rate in their tests. This comment was a bit out of the way, in my opinion.


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Evy Ceustermans  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:12
English to Dutch
+ ...
Good one Oct 24, 2012

Tom in London wrote:

Ondira wrote:

..... in 80% of the cases I never hear back


In my case it's 100%. I don't do them any more.

If I were cynical I'd say they send a different piece of text to 100 different translators, then stitch all the pieces together to get a free translation of a whole document.

But of course I'm not cynical, so I wouldn't say that.



[Edited at 2012-10-24 09:06 GMT]




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Steven Segaert  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 09:12
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Knowing why Oct 24, 2012

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I don't have an absolute rule about free test translations - I do them occasionally if:-

(...)
- my rate and payment terms have already been explicitly agreed to.

That last one is perhaps the most important. You can never be sure of getting work after a test, but doing a test then being presented with work at half your normal rate is not something you want to make a habit of. In fact, I make sure they are prepared to pay my rates early on in the process: no point filling out a registration form otherwise.


That is probably the best advice that can be given here. Rather put some time in negotiating what might happen afterwards than be frustrated at the end...


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:12
Swedish to English
+ ...
Depends Oct 24, 2012

Can't help being surprised by the yes/no answers given by some in this and other threads.

Putting my end-client hat on, can I give you an example of how doing a test in the right circumstances can be profitable?

My company had a mini-site that needed to be outsourced due to lack of resources. Another person in my company tried to outsource using an agency and asked for 2 pages of approx. 300-400 words to be translated as a test.

The 1st test I received was bordering on the ridiculous, the 2nd one was barely better.

So I found my own freelancer and asked him for a test of only one of these pages. He replied that he would be happy to do the test as long as I assured him that he, if I was happy with the test, would get the job. I was and he did. That was a few 1000s of Euros for him for an investment of maximum an hour of his time.

Putting my freelance hat on, would I do a test for an unknown agency? Fat chance.


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Jacqueline Sieben  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:12
Dutch to English
+ ...
Yes, sample translations... Oct 24, 2012

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

ATIL KAYHAN wrote:

My own experience with test translations is very similar to yours. That is why I do not do them anymore, either. At least not the free test translations. A good compromise is PAID test translations. You can always ask the company that you will do the test translation provided they pay for it. If the company is legitimate and serious about you, they should accept it. If they do not accept paid test translation, it is definitely their loss, not yours. This is the way I look at it.


Many agencies will tell you that the "client" asked for a free sample and that they cannot pay you when the client does not pay them for the test.

They see it as a charge and not as an investment, which from my point of view is a very bad start.

What I do in such cases is to link them to my Proz.com profile: samples are available there.



... of specific topics requested by an agency's client. Happened to me several times. Did it once (no assignment after that). One Prozarian aptly remarked that these costs are marketing related and should be for the account of the agency. I've had several more requests from the same agency, sometimes for as much as 1,200 words! My reply is now that I charge a fixed fee of €100 for any sample translation.

[Edited at 2012-10-24 18:35 GMT]


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svenfrade  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:12
French to German
+ ...
Depends Oct 24, 2012

I rarely do test translations these days but would if:

a) The client appeared to be trustworthy (I would check the BB to start with)
b) The rate had been agreed on beforehand
c) The text was not longer than approx. 300 words


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Nicole Coesel  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:12
Member (2012)
Dutch to English
+ ...
I understand the issue ... but Oct 24, 2012

Besides language skills, one of the most valuable things freelance translators have to offer is their time. And I do not mind helping out a friend, a company I sympathise with, or performing a test translation for a company I do not know at all .... BUT

If the company is requiring a test translation of over 500 words and they are not registered on ProZ or don't have a company profile or Blue Board entries I feel comfortable with, I kindly refer to my PRO-status, my published projects, my WWA-enties and my resume. If the company is truly interested in hiring you as a person, that should really be enough information already.

As mentioned in this thread, you often do not hear back from companies which require an extremely high "free test translation" word count, or the ones asking you for your best rate since they have so much work coming up in your language pair that they are looking for a continuous working relationship while wanting you to perform a test translation AND maybe offer you a 300 word count job for peanuts.

Please just stick with your values, simply because you are worth it if you take yourself serious. I do understand the haggle with the bigger translation agencies trying to get you to work for a lower rate, but if you stick to your values, you will see .. they will respect you for it (that is if you try to keep things reasonable).

I hope this helps. Believe in yourself, in what you are, and in what YOU have to offer.

Best of luck,
Nicole.


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