Looking for guidance on how I can best approach translation agencies to solicit employment
Thread poster: Adam-MSCR

Adam-MSCR  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:55
French to English
+ ...
Oct 6, 2016

Hello everybody,

I have been busy translating sports-themed texts for a charity this past month. I am thoroughly enjoying the work and I'm very proud of the translations I've completed so far.

I feel very confident now about working as a professional with a translation agency. However, I realise it is not easy to get your foot in the door.

As such, can anybody please give me some advice I can use when I email them? I want to be able to showcase my previous translations to them, is it OK to include them as an attachment or is that too pushy? I would really appreciate any help.

Wishing you all the best, and happy translating.
Adam


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Paul Malone  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:55
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Add sample translations to your profile Oct 6, 2016

Hi Adam,

I would suggest you see if you can improve your profile a bit. Your profile is your "shop window", so you want it to look as professional as possible.

You could, for example, add some sample translations to your profile, then send a link to your profile in your e-mail messages. That might come across as a bit less "pushy". And remember, you're not "looking for employment", you are offering your services as a professional translator.

Good luck!


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:55
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Exactly what I was going to say Oct 6, 2016

Paul Malone wrote:
And remember, you're not "looking for employment", you are offering your services as a professional translator.

The point Paul makes may seem like a minor one, but it's a crucial part of the mindset. I am not a supplicant or in any way inferior to the companies to which I offer services with pride and confidence. Not all potential clients wish to deal with me; I accept that and I don't spend time agonising over it. I treat my customers with the polite deference due to any client, but I am my own man. Stand tall!

[Edit] And make sure you have permission from previous clients to use any translations you created - you care about confidentiality, right?

Regards
Dan

[Edited at 2016-10-07 08:19 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:55
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Address them to your portfolio Oct 6, 2016

I can only agree wholeheartedly with the other replies. You should direct potential clients to your professional portfolio. This could be on your own website, but it could just as well be here.

"Solicit employment"??? Oh no, that's totally off course! The email you send should be as short as possible and, above all, businesslike. It isn't a "cover letter" any more than your CV is a job-seeker's CV (in fact, CV is a name we tend to use for convenience but really it could be called something else (e.g. brochure)). But you do outline your most important (i.e. relevant to them) skills and experience, so there are similarities.

Don't ask about their terms (rates, payment methods, credit periods...); state yours. That's most important. They'll probably want to negotiate, so don't give them what they'd call your "best rate" - give them the rate you really want to get, and be prepared to give a bit in terms of rate OR something else, but don't give them everything on a plate. Honestly, it's better to walk away than to sell yourself short.


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MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:55
Member (Jun 2017)
French to English
+ ...
It doesn't really matter what you call it Oct 6, 2016

The point is you're looking for translation work and trying to build new professional relationships. Most translation agencies claim on their websites that they're always looking for new freelancers and they offer a way to get in touch. It's usually "send cover letter + CV to careers@agency dot com" or it's an online form that can go into quite a lot of detail about fields of expertise, software, education and more.

I say research agencies, try to find those who work in your preferred fields, and then start shooting off emails on a daily basis. And don't forget to also try to identify and target direct clients. Good luck.


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Phyllis Elago  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:55
French to English
+ ...
Make yourself visible and easy to find Oct 7, 2016

Hello Adam,

Contacting agencies directly is one way to go about it, as the others have said. However, in my experience, it's much better to be found by an agency rather than spending lots of time trying to find them. I agree with Paul that you need to put more detail in your profile so that the search bots can find you when agencies do a search. I find it is also really worth it to have your own website to refer people to from your ProZ profile so that you can make a more emotional impact and pleasant user experience than the ProZ profile can offer. Your ProZ profile is more about getting found in searches. If you don't have the resources or time to build your own website, you can use a free profile site such as about.me. Agencies don't need a fancy branded website because they know what information they are looking for, but you need to make that information easy to find.

You asked "I want to be able to showcase my previous translations to them, is it OK to include them as an attachment or is that too pushy?"

My view is you shouldn't do this. You would already be sending a cold email and it is too much to expect them to stop what they're doing and evaluate a random text which may not have anything to do with the sorts of texts they work with. It would better to put that sort of thing in your profile or website.


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Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:55
Member (2004)
German to English
As others have said ... Oct 7, 2016

... you could polish your profile a bit. For example, I suggest changing your profile picture - ditch the one that suggests you are young/inexperienced and/or on holiday and replace it with one that is either entirely businesslike (see Paul, Dan, Sheila on this page) or that is a good reflection of your sporting interests.

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Adam-MSCR  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:55
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for all of your extremely useful replies Oct 7, 2016

I am so glad I asked for advice before going ahead with emails. The feedback on this thread has given me a lot of food for thought.

I think the mindset of "seeking employment" definitely needs to be changed and reflected in future correspondence with agencies. Thank you for highlighting that, it has really changed the way I see myself as a freelance translator.

I have done some work on my profile, including uploading two translation samples which are sports texts, from Spanish and French into English. Is there an optimum amount of samples? Is 10 for example too much? I have sought permission before uploading them.

Regarding my CV/"brochure" and "about me" page on my proz profile. These are the next two things I need to address. I'm going to try that now. Is it OK to talk about hobbies and interests when discussing my specialisation. If we take sport for example, I play a lot of sports and follow them intently, is this worth mentioning? The problem being that I do not have qualifications in those sports!

In terms of rates, thank you for your advice Sheila. I have a best price figure now as well as a target rate which I am happy with. I've seen a lot of translators offering very low rates which I'm absolutely not going to do. I've keep mine in line with the average statistics listed on Proz.

Finally, regarding the photo. I actually had thought about changing that this morning. However, to use a sports photo is such a good idea, I didn't think to do that, but that's another thing on my list of changes to make.

Thank you all for your help,
Adam


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Paul Malone  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:55
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Yes, I think you can mention your hobbies and interests in this case Oct 8, 2016

Hello again Adam,

Yes, I think it would be fine to mention your hobbies and interests in this case as there is a direct link between those and one of the translation fields you are offering.

I wouldn't worry too much about not having qualifications in the sports you are interested in. I think that direct knowledge of the subject in question is probably far more important.

It's also worth remembering that, as professional translators, we don't necessarily always have specific qualifications that are directly related to our translation fields. For example, a technical translator often does not have qualifcations in engineering or a legal translator does not necessarily have any legal qualifications.

When I started translating full time, I didn't have any translation qualifications either. That said, I believe that it has become more difficult to start out as a freelance translator since I started, since many outsourcers now require either translation qualifications or 5 years' experience. The reason for this is compliance with the European Quality Standard for Translation Service Providers (BS EN-15038).

I wouldn't let that put you off, though. I still think that being very keen to become a translator is more important than anything. I would recommend a book that I read a few years ago called "Becoming a Translator: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Translation" by Douglas Robinson.

Best regards
Paul

[Edited at 2016-10-08 18:58 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-10-08 19:01 GMT]


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MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:55
Member (Jun 2017)
French to English
+ ...
A note on "waiting for jobs to come to you" Oct 10, 2016

Yes, of course, it's great when people come to you. It's happened to me 2-3 times in the last week alone. But here's the thing: as with most things in life, when you really, really want something, YOU have to go after it. You have to be proactive.

There are over *24,000* FR>ENG translators listed on this site. Do you want to just sit around and wait for someone to find you among that list? Or do you want to take charge of your own professional destiny?

To use myself as an example, I work in several fields but lately have been doing most of my work in one specific field. Once I built up enough experience through one client, I researched every single entity working in that field and I went after them --with some freaking stellar experience to show for. And now I'm working with several of them. Sure, I could have waited for them to come to me, but I didn't. I went after them. And it paid off. And guess what: my main client is thrilled, in their eyes it only increases my value to them. "Wow, you're working with so and so? That's awesome!!"

So my advice is to follow all the above advice, but also identify who you really, really want to work for / with, and go for it. Nobody will ever care about your dreams more than you do. You can wait for ESPN or the Football League or the Olympics to contact you --or you can contact them


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Adam-MSCR  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:55
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A lot of work ahead Oct 14, 2016

Thank you everybody again for all of your useful replies.

I certainly would prefer approaching agencies and clients myself, rather than waiting for them to come to me.

I'm going to edit my profile and create a translation CV in the form of a brochure which I will upload, as well as looking into the about.me website. In addition, I will change my photo to a sporty one so that I can really focus on my niche of sports, in order to stand out.

Some sample translations are included on my profile now as well. I will be re-reading all of your comments when moving forward with these ideas, because there is a lot of very useful information and advice for me to take in, I want to address each one carefully. Hopefully I will be in the strongest position possible, armed with good knowledge, when writing to agencies.....and a change of mindset too!

Paul, I will have a look at the book you recommended me.

Once again, thanks to everybody and all the best,
Adam


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:55
German to English
Radical suggestion Oct 14, 2016

20+ years ago when I returned to the greater Detroit area from living in Europe, I needed to restart my business in the US. The Internet was in its infancy, at least with respect to public use. My previous local US clients had either been sold, gone out of business or moved. I decided to pay a personal visit to the successors to my former local clients as well as other Detroit-area agencies (I'm an automotive translator/technical writer). Although this endeavor was time consuming, and only a third of the agencies agreed to see me, it paid handsome dividends over time, and soon I had plenty of work. When project managers I had worked with moved to different agencies over time, they contacted me from their new employers, and I was able to expand my customer base.

It might be worth your while to buy a train ticket to London (or some other large city in the south of England) and visit some of the larger translation agencies there. You would, of course, need to set up appointments in advance. A Google search should indicate which agencies might be fruitful to contact. Be prepared for rejection, but if you could make even one good contact, it could pay off in the long run. As with any enterprise, you will have to invest time as well as money.

You might also consider visiting trade shows in your area of interest. You could distribute your business card and brochure while picking up reference material from manufacturers/distributors of sporting goods.

As others have pointed out, you have to actively market yourself and pursue leads. Currently the Internet is a primary source of these, but it's not the only one. If a project manager or potential translation buyer can connect a face to a CV (or whatever), it could help immeasurably.


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Adam-MSCR  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:55
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Great idea Kevin Oct 20, 2016

Dear Kevin,

Thank you for taking the time to give me such an informative piece of advice.

I really think going to a translation convention in the U.K could be a great idea. At the very least I would be able to meet people, and like you say, someone could then attach a face to a CV.

Wishing you all the best,
Adam


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