Gaining experience
Thread poster: Joost Elshoff

Joost Elshoff  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:43
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Sep 6, 2006

There's a lot of starting freelancers around, even here on Little over 2 months ago I decided I'd aim everything on getting established as a freelance translator. I have a MA in Linguistics and Spanish, but lack the experience to be able to offer services to agencies. Most agencies in Holland have a very strict policy about using freelance services, in that they only want to work with people with 3 years or more experience in the trade.

How do I go about gaining experience? I try to translate press articles from Spanish newssites to Dutch to have some practice, but without experience I can't seem to find suitable translation jobs that pay.

I started on learning about Wordfast, which is cheaper then Trados, so hopefully I'll be able to add that to my software list soon, but still... any advice is welcome.


United Kingdom
Local time: 10:43
English to Italian
+ ...
Article Knowledgebase Sep 6, 2006

Have you read the articles under Getting Established?

This is a frequent topic and you should be able to find a lot of info in old threads.

My own advice is to find, whenever possible, a full-time job as a translator in a company or agency, in your own country or abroad. In this way you gain the experience and your first client and you will be ready to go freelance within a couple of years. Alternatively, a non-translating job will help you gain a specialization, which is an increasingly important requisite nowadays.


Joost Elshoff  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:43
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Thanks Sep 6, 2006

Well, some good advice, but still... Spanish-Dutch in house translation jobs aren't really widely available in Holland. Don't know about any other countries, but as far as that is concerned, I'm not in a position to move to any other country, since my my marriage (and my wife's job and training) ties me to this country.

I have some wroking experience already in mobile telecommunications and auto-motive, both as multilingual customer support agent, so there is some experience already.

I am just wondering if anyone else has run in to the same kind of problems I have, receiving rejection after rejection for not having enough experience yet.

Last rejection I received was for an in house position English-Dutch, for which I had to do 3 (!!) test translations free of charge. All they could say, was that my tests weren't sufficient. Couldn't give me feedback or anything.


Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:43
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
"Go abroad" Sep 6, 2006

Hi Joost,

I'm also relatively new to this business; I have been working as a freelancer for about a year now (this year practically full time). It naturally takes a little time and patience to get started.

Have you tried to contact agencies abroad? I got my first client contacts through Proz and other similar sites and the agencies were all from other countries. I noticed you have a website, that's great! Maybe you should consider getting it translated into English, too, to attract foreign agencies who don't necessarily know your source/target language.

Also, some agencies say on their website that they only use freelancers with X years of experience etc., but that is not exactly true in all cases. So don't be intimidated by that, you can still send them your application/CV. They might contact you even if you haven't got the necessary experience.

Good luck!


Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:43
My 2 cents :) Sep 7, 2006

Don't just look at Dutch & Spanish-speaking agencies. Check out agencies in other countries. For example, I translate German & Irish Gaelic > English but my main client is based in the Netherlands. I agree with what Nina says - don't let geography be a barrier.

I wouldn't worry too much about the test translations, they don't seem to be an effective way of getting clients anyway (which is why a lot of translators don't bother with them).


[Edited at 2006-09-07 08:57]


Joost Elshoff  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:43
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
So I've been sending quite e few e-mails... Oct 23, 2006

over the last few weeks, and have just recently filled out the application for the dutch translators' and interpreters' association, but still it's really difficult to find jobs (big or small).

Most agencies have guidelines that they only work with well established and experienced translators (>3 years of working experience). They tell me to find my working experience elsewhere, but how?

So I thought I'd apply for an inhouse translator position. Turns out they liked my resumé and thought I'd fit in well with the company, but instead they hired an eastern european applicant for whom they still had to get a workers permit and other official documents...

so what am I doing wrong here?


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