What agency should I choose?
Thread poster: Ivano Conte

Ivano Conte  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:05
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
Apr 6, 2013

Hello!

I have a question/curiosity.

Generally, I "always" get my translation jobs with the job proposals posted on the Job posting part, but yesterday I clicked the Blue Board link and I was like "Wow! Look how many agencies! Let's send some CV for collaborations!" but then the problem came: "What agency should I pick?"

I mean, there are a lot (and "a lot" is an euphemism) of agencies... I have to choose the agency basing my decision just on the LWAs they have? Or I have to choose at random and hope to be lucky?

Do you have some better suggestions for me?

Thanks in advance!

Have a good day!
A smile for you all!
IC


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Kata Koncz  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:05
Member (2008)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
large and good ones Apr 6, 2013

Hello,

You might want to try the larger agencies (those having a lot of praise from translators obviously) who have an immense number of jobs to outsource. I'd look for the ones who have a translator registration/application part on their website, so you can easily register to their system. Or those that otherwise clearly say that you're welcome to send them your CV.


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Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2002)
Swedish
+ ...
Blue Board ratings Apr 6, 2013

Hello Ivano,

You might want to have a look at the Blue Board ratings and also check up if these agencies are looking for translators with your language pair.

It's also important to have a closer look at their websites and check up if they have any application forms (as already said above). It can be quite time-consuming and even annoying for an agency to get loads of application documents with ordinary mail (who should ever take their time and have a closer look at these documents?) if they prefer applications via their standardized form.

Best regards
Erik


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Ivano Conte  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:05
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Old or new ones? Apr 6, 2013

So the thing is: take a day (more or less) and choose according to these characteristics.

Another question: old or new ones? There are some of them registered in 2002 others in 2011...

Thanks for the answers!

IC


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:05
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Don't spam Apr 6, 2013

Kata Koncz wrote:
I'd look for the ones who have a translator registration/application part on their website, so you can easily register to their system. Or those that otherwise clearly say that you're welcome to send them your CV.

Those two are essential. You really shouldn't just fire off an email to all agencies that say they work in your pairs and subject areas, Ivano. That would be classed as spamming, and I believe would actually be illegal in some cases (see a discussion a while ago on ProZ.com, if you can find it).

Kata's advice to contact large agencies is totally logical. Personally, I'm rarely happy working for the large ones (with some very happy exceptions) as they often tend to treat you with less respect than a business ought to give its suppliers. I'd target the ones that actually specialised in my language pair(s) and/or subject areas, rather than providing anything and everything.

I'd regard the visit to their website as essential, not only for factual information about them, but also to get a feel for the company. And I'd do some Google research into the company. Don't rely too much on the BB, even if they have straight 5s.


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:05
German to English
+ ...
A good place to start Apr 6, 2013

Jobs & directories-->Blue Board-->Applications (one of several options listed on the right-hand side of the Blue Board page). Those are the agencies actively seeking translators, and should also list ones specifically looking for your language pairs. Here is a direct link, but I'm not sure if you will see it for my language preferences or yours:
http://www.proz.com/blueboard/?sp_mode=applications

That is the safest option, and not considered spamming, because you are responding to a call for applications. Some also announce their needs in translator groups on LinkedIn, but very few and usually only for certain language pairs. Still, it may be worth a try.

Edited for punctuation.

[Edited at 2013-04-06 11:53 GMT]


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Ivano Conte  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:05
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I did not see the Applications link Apr 6, 2013

Woodstock wrote:

Jobs & directories-->Blue Board-->Applications (one of several options listed on the right-hand side of the Blue Board page). Those are the agencies actively seeking translators, and should also list ones specifically looking for your language pair if there are any. Here is a direct link, but I'm not sure if you will see it for my language preferences or yours:
http://www.proz.com/blueboard/?sp_mode=applications


Thank you Woodstock! I did not see it!


Sheila Wilson wrote:
...the large ones (with some very happy exceptions) as they often tend to treat you with less respect than a business ought to give its suppliers. I'd target the ones that actually specialised in my language pair(s) and/or subject areas, rather than providing anything and everything.


Yes, I was thinking the same thing.

Thank to you all for these suggestions!


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:05
English to Portuguese
+ ...
At last I disagree with Sheila! Apr 6, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:
I'd regard the visit to their website as essential, not only for factual information about them, but also to get a feel for the company. And I'd do some Google research into the company. Don't rely too much on the BB, even if they have straight 5s.


I've been reading Sheila Wilson's posts on Proz forums (it feels like) for years, and I always got the feeling of 100% agreement with them. This time I disagree with the underscored statement above.

Watch out!

Too often you won't get a feel for a translation agency from their web site, but only a feel for their web designer and/or PR content developer.

I've been working for years with some agencies whose web sites are pretty dull in design and content. Conversely, I've had occasional gigs with rather unpleasant outcomes from agencies whose web sites will dazzle any visitor with brilliance.

Bear in mind that no translation agency web site is specifically intended to attract translators. Their goal is to attract translation clients, translators being no more than an essential prerequisite to serve the clients they attract.

Furthermore, a few agencies have an internal staff translating, and many of them will already have a selected team/database of translators capable of handling most of the usual requests.

I've put together a translation-customer-focused article on this page. However a few of the points, especially in the last section, should give you an idea on what may happen behind the web site.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:05
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Well, I don't disagree with you, José :) Apr 6, 2013

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Sheila Wilson wrote:
but also to get a feel for the company.

I disagree with the underscored statement above.

Watch out!

Too often you won't get a feel for a translation agency from their web site, but only a feel for their web designer and/or PR content developer.

I've been working for years with some agencies whose web sites are pretty dull in design and content. Conversely, I've had occasional gigs with rather unpleasant outcomes from agencies whose web sites will dazzle any visitor with brilliance.

Yes, that certainly needs to be said. I suppose even the smaller specialised agencies can have their websites professionally designed, and lose their identity. Mind you, I don't mind a "pretty dull in design and content" website: I don't find that particularly off-putting, although I imagine some of their potential clients do. What I really avoid are those agencies that promise their own clients the earth, yesterday, for really low prices. Who's going to be bullied into trying to keep those particular customers satisfied? Not me!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Don't use the BB yet, start with the company register Apr 6, 2013

Ivano Conte wrote:
Let's send some CV for collaborations!" but then the problem came: "What agency should I pick?"


The problem with using the BB for this is that you can't easily filter companies based on whether they have a need for you. I suggest you start by using the company directory, which you can filter by e.g. language combination:

http://www.proz.com/translation-companies/

Also, you're going to have to visit the web site of every company to find out how each of them prefer to be contacted. Many of them will want you to fill in a form online. Some might want you to send them your CV but will request additional information in the mail (if you don't include that information, they will delete your CV without looking at it).


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:05
German to English
+ ...
Applications feature is just that - a filter of sorts Apr 6, 2013

Samuel Murray wrote:

Ivano Conte wrote:
Let's send some CV for collaborations!" but then the problem came: "What agency should I pick?"


The problem with using the BB for this is that you can't easily filter companies based on whether they have a need for you.



@Samuel - The "Applications" tab that I have pointed OP to is precisely a list of ProZ-registered agencies looking for translators, some for specific language pairs and subject specialties, and you can apply directly from that page. These are all filtered according to your languages and have 5 or 4.9 ratings at worst, so they have good track records here. I have found it to be very helpful when looking for new clients in the past, and it saves a lot of potentially wasted time looking laboriously for agencies who are in turn looking for your particular language pairs. All the information you need at one click, then another to apply and that's it. It can't get any easier than that. Many may not know about it, and I don't remember how I found it, but it's a terrific feature.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
A little pair of scripts Apr 6, 2013

Samuel Murray wrote:
The problem with using the BB for this is that you can't easily filter companies based on whether they have a need for you.


Another problem with the BB is that you can't specify number of entries. You can ask to sort by score, but an average score of "5" is worth less if it is based on only 1 or 2 entries. On the other hand, a "4" or even a "3" score may be more useful if it is based on 20 entries or more.

If you want to sort by number of entries, you have to download a couple of results pages, merge them, fiddle with them, and then sort them by column. If you have a bit of skill with computers, you can use my pair of scripts that was designed for just that.


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 09:05
Danish to English
+ ...
Prepare for a lot of footwork Apr 7, 2013

Just a word of caution: your idea of setting aside a day to contact agencies is great, but that just won't be enough, in my experience. It takes ages to look through websites to make sure you only contact those that are likely to be interested in hearing from you AND with whom you would actually like to collaborate.

And I don't want to discourage you, but be prepared for a lot of silence when you send off your contact messages; even when you sign up via on-line registration forms, don't expect to hear anything back. Consider it a nice surprise if you DO hear back from any agency. My impression is that the majority just leave applications in their system and they don't look at them until they actually have a need for your particular language combination.

It is a long, hard job to get your foot in with just a handful of good agencies. My personal view is that it is much more profitable to spend time searching for end clients of your own, especially because you can then target clients who you KNOW work within your chosen specialist fields. But that is outside the scope of your question here.


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NataliaAnne  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:05
Portuguese to English
Be prepared to do the hard yards Apr 7, 2013

Gitte Hovedskov Hansen wrote:

Just a word of caution: your idea of setting aside a day to contact agencies is great, but that just won't be enough, in my experience. It takes ages to look through websites to make sure you only contact those that are likely to be interested in hearing from you AND with whom you would actually like to collaborate.


It’s a good point. I’m really not sure how much time I put into marketing, but it’s not inconsiderable. Whenever I’m not actively working on a project (and I’m within what I consider to be my normal working hours), I’m either dealing with my accounts or similar, doing some kind of professional development or marketing my services. So it’s kind of my fourth priority, if you like.

I have used the Proz applications feature and the companies register mentioned by others, but I often just stumble across clients who I would like to work for (both end clients and agencies). Maybe a colleague mentions them to me, I read an interesting article, I see a business opportunity, whatever. Whenever this happens, I make a quick note of these leads in my marketing spreadsheet and then come back to it when I have time.

Actually, my marketing spreadsheet may be worth mentioning too. I just have a simple Excel spreadsheet with columns labelled: name, contact details, website, location, requirements, blue board check (for agencies), preferred contact method, how I found them, rate (so I don’t forget what I’ve told them!), contact date, update, other info. The main reason I do this is to track who I’ve contacted so I can make sure I did it (rather than just intended to) and also that I don’t annoy people by accidentally contacting them multiple times. I also refer to it when I get contacted by a client to see whether I contacted them first or whether we’ve had any previous dealings.

Good luck!


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