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Why don't I get work?
Thread poster: Paul Dixon

Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:49
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Jun 26

I would like to know why I don't get work.
I haven't had a decent job for many months, yet a friend has jobs every day and often works 12 hours a day, even at weekends. The interesting thing is that we have the same experience and neither uses CAT tools. I am a native speaker and she is a native-like Brazilian. We live in different cities but both in Brazil's Southeast which is the wealthiest part of the country.
I do get work, but they are usually one-page documents.
So what am I doing wrong?


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:49
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
We'd need far more information to help Jun 26

Paul Dixon wrote:
I would like to know why I don't get work.
I haven't had a decent job for many months, yet a friend has jobs every day and often works 12 hours a day, even at weekends. The interesting thing is that we have the same experience and neither uses CAT tools. I am a native speaker and she is a native-like Brazilian.


The problem, Paul, is that we have no way of comparing like with like. It isn't even clear what work you're looking for and where you're looking for it. Is it specifically through the ProZ.com site that you're asking about? If so, have you attended the "Meeting Clients" free webinar? It could be really helpful and will certainly explain a lot about how to use the site to your best advantage. Don't forget that networking counts for a lot nowadays, and your friend may be ace at that.

One thing that occurs to me, looking at your profile and CV, is that you say you have a British passport but there isn't much at all to back up your claim to be an expert in the English language. I think that as you moved to Brazil so early in your life you really need to emphasise your ability to write well in English. After all, we don't start doing that before we're about 6 or so and we don't really polish our writing skills until our senior school exams. You also need to convince potential clients that your English is staying up to date, as that's a problem for us "expat oldies". But of course I'm only going by what you've made public about yourselficon_smile.gif .


IssacYou
Ricardo Suin
TOMBE Franklin
missdutch
Joana Cintra Araujo
 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
120GBP/hr Jun 26

your rate is a bit too heavy for Brazil. You can divide it by 10 (at least).

[Modifié le 2018-06-26 17:39 GMT]

[Modifié le 2018-06-26 17:40 GMT]


 

123Translations
Venezuela
Local time: 03:49
Member (2008)
Dutch to English
+ ...


Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile


Multiple problems Jun 26

First of all, you offer translations not into your native language, which most potential clients will probably frown upon. Then you should realise that many potential clients don't really understand the business of translation. They see an extremely excessive fee of 80 to 120 pounds per hour and move on. Your hourly rate is simply way too high to be taken seriously. You should really try to update your profile to more realistic standards.

 

Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:49
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Additional information Jun 26

Here is some more information in reply to points raised:

I was born in England and came to Brazil at an early age. My family was British on both sides (father Geordie, mother Welsh). I was able to study at the British School here in São Paulo, with tuition in both English and Portuguese, up to my 'O' levels at 16 (taken in Brazil). One translation lesson a week (within the five Portuguese classes/week) as from age 13. Then Brazilian system, and Brazilian universities. I returned to England 1992-1995 but due to the disastrous government at the time and job cuts I returned to Brazil.

I am talking about general jobseeking, not specifically through ProZ. It seems that you only have a realistic chance of getting jobs through ProZ if you pay for an expensive membership. I was a paying member for some years, but results were poor, so gave up.

I do networking but mostly at translator events. Some people have suggested attending trade fairs, but I know most of them are closed to non-professionals of the area (one example is FENIT, for domestic appliances - it's for professionals or shopkeepers only)

I have put British Passport as citizenship. Sadly, with Brexit, I am not European any more (not for common market purposes, anyway). I had 'European Passport Holder' too but removed it when Brexit was approved.

I hope this sheds light on the issues relating to my English Language skills.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:49
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Unfortunately, it isn't us you have to convince Jun 26

I think you could do a whole lot more to convince clients that you're worth that very high rate per hour, Paul. Your CV, for example, contains just three lines at the turn of the page glossing over 20 years of freelance translation experience. That's not a great selling job.

Paul Dixon wrote:
I have put British Passport as citizenship. Sadly, with Brexit, I am not European any more (not for common market purposes, anyway). I had 'European Passport Holder' too but removed it when Brexit was approved.

Oh dear, we haven't left yet, and you're still a European citizen. Don't give up yet! If I and several thousands of others (maybe millions?) have anything to do with it, you'll retain your European citizenship!


123Translations
Kay Denney
Alison Jenner
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Judith Zerdin
 

Sarah Lewis-Morgan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:49
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Expensive membership? Jun 26

Paul Dixon wrote:


I am talking about general jobseeking, not specifically through ProZ. It seems that you only have a realistic chance of getting jobs through ProZ if you pay for an expensive membership. I was a paying member for some years, but results were poor, so gave up.



Do you really think that membership of Proz is expensive? I don't get that many jobs through Proz relatively speaking, but those I have have made the cost of membership more than worthwhile. I get regular and semi-regular work from several sources that came directly through Proz and the work I get in one month from those is worth far more than a year's membership fee. Seems a good investment to me.


Philippe Etienne
Sabrina Bruna
Ester Vidal
Dan Lucas
Angie Garbarino
Christine Andersen
Andrejs Gorbunovs
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 09:49
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Why don't you use a CAT tool? Jun 27

You could at least give it a try.

While CATs don't save as much time as Trados used to claim, there are lots of advantages. One is that many outsourcers (agencies) use them, and will not consider working with translators who don't. A CAT would give you access to clients who are not interested in you at the moment.

Try two or three CATs and see which suits you best. I keep coming back to Trados Studio, but it is not everyone's favourite, and a 'lighter' one might suit you, at least at first while you learn the basics.
There are free demos available, so you don't need to spend a lot on licenses before you know what you want to buy. Do spend time, however, on really getting the feel of how each CAT works, so you find which you are most comfortable with.

There is no need to repeat Sheila's advice, but you do have to stand out one way or another. Put yourself in the client's shoes - what would you look for if you wanted a translator for the kind of work you like doing? That needs to be on your profile, or they will not find you.

Make yourself visible at trade fairs, powwows, anywhere you can showcase what you have to offer. Short brush-up courses on terminology, your special subject areas… anywhere you can be seen!
You do have to invest time and effort and some money, but in my case it all paid off. Above all, look and sound professional, and don't give up!


mareug
Peter Simon
Angus Stewart
Matheus Chaud
missdutch
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 09:49
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Proz is not that expensive for a professional translator Jun 27

I got my return on investment in Proz membership with my very first job, within a few weeks of joining, basically the time it took me to familiarise myself with how the system worked. It was about the third or fourth bid I made. So you were obviously not bidding as expected by the clients posting here.
And then in many countries you can deduct the expense when declaring your income too.

It sounds like you've been working as a translator for a while, do you not have any repeat customers?


Angie Garbarino
missdutch
 

Rosalind Haigh
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:49
German to English
+ ...
Sharpen up your profile Jun 27

Paul, if you want to be taken seriously as a professional, you need to present yourself as one.

I had a quick read through your cv and would suggest you take out the unnecessary details. We can all type - we do it every day - so no one is interested in your secretarial and typing skills. You must have passed the uni entrance exam because you went there, so take this out. Then rewrite the rest to portray yourself as a translator, and make the layout clear: bullet points would be helpful to avoid long paragraphs.

If you have really amassed 20 years' translation experience (or 15? Your cv states both) then at least indicate some of your customers, not by name, but as "major Brazilian refrigerator manufacturer" etc. Is your English really still up to speed? No one I know says "mobile telephone", and "freelance" looks odd written with a hyphen.

I don't think your sample translations are doing you any favours either. The first one contains a typo. The second one is somewhat stilted and I'd guess you stuck too closely to the Portuguese structure/syntax. And you simply cannot say "Blacks" in this day and age.

You also state that you "translate any subject". Nobody can do this and achieve professional quality in all areas. Select 2 or 3 specialist areas and beef those up.

Sorry to bombard you with criticism. Please take these comments in the spirit in which they are intended!


Jorge Payan
missdutch
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Ask Jun 27

Perhaps you should ask your previous customers why they haven't sent you more work.

Maybe they are not happy with your prices or your quality. Maybe they have just forgotten about you.

We, on the other hand, can only speculate!


missdutch
 

Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 17:49
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Contradicting and confusing Jun 27

Sorry, Paul, this is the impression I get. You claim that your hour should cost a client GBP 120 and at the same time you call the membership expensive? It just does not make sense.
Your CV is also a bit confusing. First of all, you do not stop being European just because of Brexit. Sheila is absolutely right that you should persuade your clients that your English skills are up to date.
You should probably work on your networking skills too - you have mentioned that your friend is busy but it does not look like she is sharing her work with you. Why? I have been receiving some of the best projects from my colleagues who know that I am a good, reliable translator.


Peter Simon
LINE NKENLA
Ricardo Suin
missdutch
 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:49
Member (2004)
English to Italian
maybe... Jun 27

she is a lot less expensive than you? I'm not saying you should drop your rate, but maybe that's the reason... icon_smile.gif Good luck!

Morano El-Kholy
ahartje
Peter Simon
missdutch
 

MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:49
French to English
+ ...
Change your hourly rate Jun 27

You're basically charging 3-4 times what most translators charge. I doubt that makes you very attractive to potential clients and it certainly doesn't make you competitive.

ahartje
Peter Simon
Sabine Braun
Jorge Payan
Matheus Chaud
Ricardo Suin
 

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:49
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
You are on the right site Jun 27

In my opinion, Proz is by far the best translation web site. It has everything you need to answer your question.

My advice: Spend some real time poring over the forums. Adjust your variables. Take care of your image. Be reasonable. Be motivated. Do a check on your attitude.

Getting work is an art.


Angie Garbarino
123Translations
LINE NKENLA
Evelio Clavel
Nathalie Bullen
 
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