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About references requested by agencies
Thread poster: Donatella Semproni

Donatella Semproni  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:50
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
Oct 5

Hello everyone,

I am trying to expand my base of clients and when filling the online forms of most translation agencies, I am often requested to give references. Since all my clients are translation agencies, I was wondering if it is a good idea to give the names of other agencies (their competitors) for whom I work.

Thank you in advance for your opinions!


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
No Oct 5

No, that's not a good idea.

Who your clients are is confidential information belonging to you and you only. References are for employees. Freelancers are not employees.

I would be sceptical of any outsourcer asking for such confidential information, and under no circumstances would I provide it. If they insist, the only answer is to walk away.

Some outsourcers could even use this as a test: if you are willing to give your confidential information away at the drop of a hat, would you also give their clients’ confidential information away just like that?

You can refer them to feedback in your Proz profile and on your own website if you have one. Of course they may find some client names there, but that’s as far as it goes.

When I have received positive feedback in relation to a translation, I sometimes ask the client if I may use it in public, but I would never ask them to write up employee-style references.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:50
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The short answer is no Oct 5

I normally refuse to give references.

The exceptions were when I applied for membership of the (now Chartered) Institute of Linguists, and when I applied to become a Chartered Linguist.

Here I was asking for references to be given to a professional association, not to potential competitors of the clients who would give the references.

Never give the name of a client without asking their consent; some ask you to sign NDAs stating that you will not mention to others that you work for them. Others do not mind if you mention them generally, but I would still not ask them to give references.

My answer is that as a Member of the CIoL and Chartered Linguist I have proved that I have worked as a professional translator for a number of years, and that I have signed the code of conduct. I am willing to do a small test translation if the client is interested, but references should not be necessary.

(They do sometimes accept the offer of a test, to check my style etc. and along with all the other negotiations about rates and terms, the way they handle it gives me an idea of what the client is like and whether I really want to work with them...)


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Joohee Kim  Identity Verified
South Korea
Local time: 15:20
Member (Mar 2017)
English to Korean
+ ...
That's what I thought, too Oct 5

Sorry, it's not an answer for the question. I just want to say thanks to Donatella, Christine and Thomas.
I thought the same thing with Donatella. This topic saved my career...


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Maria Conrrero  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 03:50
Member (Sep 2017)
English to Spanish


Posted via
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References Oct 6

Hi !
I usually give references if asked. Do you think its a bad idea ?
My references are willing if that helps me.
I am just starting and thought it would help...


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:50
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
No Oct 6

You are not applying for an in-house position. You fill in the agency's on-line forms because... well, surely not because they've contacted you because they already have a job waiting for you, instead you're only hoping to find work with them.

The main reason to refuse such a request is, unless one of your clients agrees to be mentioned as a reference, giving out your client's name to anybody is a breach of confidentiality, especially when you've signed an NDA. Therefore, passing on confidential information is a crime.

As Christine stated, when you're a member of a translator association, then this is all the reference you need; it's all that any potential customer needs.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:50
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Freelancers have many clients during their careers Oct 6

Another point is that freelancers have many clients - I make out a dozen invoices a month, usually with a couple of new clients among them.

Nobody has time to write two references each time a freelancer finds a new client, even if most have fewer than I do! (I do mostly small jobs, so they are spread between many different clients.)

It simply takes up too much of everybody's time.


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Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:50
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
References Oct 6

I quite agree with the others. What is particularly galling is agencies who require references for a 500-word document.

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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:50
Member (2014)
English to German
No Oct 6

As previously said, I don't find it appropriate, because I am not an employee and my clients are confidential. I have asked some clients to provide references for the ITI etc., but if someone contacted them every time I fill in an online form for an agency, and imagine all their regular translators did that?! I think they would probably very soon get annoyed.

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:50
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Exactly Oct 6

Gabriele Demuth wrote:

....but if someone contacted them every time I fill in an online form for an agency, and imagine all their regular translators did that?! I think they would probably very soon get annoyed.


They would soon find a less stressful translator.


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Jan Truper
Germany
Local time: 07:50
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
No Oct 6

Donatella Semproni wrote:
Since all my clients are translation agencies, I was wondering if it is a good idea to give the names of other agencies (their competitors) for whom I work.


Here's my standard reply to such requests:

"While I am aware that you need to assess the abilities of translators, I generally do not give out references. I value the privacy of my clients, and I don't see the point of clients communicating about valuable assets in a competitive marketplace. If you want to background-check me, try ... (insert Proz profile, LinkedIn page, your website, etc.)"

Funny story:
I only once gave out a reference, because I really wanted a specific job (it was for a guitar manufacturer that I loved), and the lady I was dealing with was very persistent. So I asked one of my favorite PMs, with whom I had a long-standing business relationship, if he would be willing to do a little sweet-talking on my behalf. He did, and I got the job.

I completed the job -- with much love -- and...
got stiffed (for 1500 EUR).


I am often under the impression that the amount of hoops you have to jump through for a company is inversely proportional to the quality of the company that requires it


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JaredK
Australia
Local time: 17:50
Chinese to English
I never give out client information Oct 6

Jan Truper wrote:

Donatella Semproni wrote:
Since all my clients are translation agencies, I was wondering if it is a good idea to give the names of other agencies (their competitors) for whom I work.


Here's my standard reply to such requests:

"While I am aware that you need to assess the abilities of translators, I generally do not give out references. I value the privacy of my clients, and I don't see the point of clients communicating about valuable assets in a competitive marketplace. If you want to background-check me, try ... (insert Proz profile, LinkedIn page, your website, etc.)"

Funny story:
I only once gave out a reference, because I really wanted a specific job (it was for a guitar manufacturer that I loved), and the lady I was dealing with was very persistent. So I asked one of my favorite PMs, with whom I had a long-standing business relationship, if he would be willing to do a little sweet-talking on my behalf. He did, and I got the job.

I completed the job -- with much love -- and...
got stiffed (for 1500 EUR).


I am often under the impression that the amount of hoops you have to jump through for a company is inversely proportional to the quality of the company that requires it


As translators we are entrusted with confidential documents that are nobody else's business. I only ever use client info for testimonials if I have the consent from the client. It's a tough one though as it is hard to sell yourself and the quality of your service when dealing with sensitive information.


Jared Kirkwood
NAATI 90003
Translation Bound
www.translationbound.com.au


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J KIM
South Korea
Local time: 15:20
Member (Sep 2017)
Korean to English
+ ...
! Oct 6

I'm not the one who asked this question tho, definitely facing similar situation to Donatella.
Many thanks for Dona, Thomas and all other translators who answered this question.
In fact, one thing still bothers me. There are some sites we can enroll as a translator automatically, then do you just close the site without finishing the process?
That sort of homepage does not progress if we leave a necessarily required blank.


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Donatella Semproni  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:50
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks ! Oct 7

Hi everybody,

Thank you all for your considerations.

I should add that in the past I have asked some of my clients if they accepted to serve as a reference for me, and after receiving their agreement I only used their names as references.

My concern is that some of them are well-known LSP and so I fear that the possible new clients could simply delete my application since I work for their competitors.

So, from now on, I will follow the suggestion of those among you who stated that my CV, qualifications etc. should be enough.

Donatella


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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:50
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Required blank Oct 7

H Moon wrote:


There are some sites we can enroll as a translator automatically, then do you just close the site without finishing the process?
That sort of homepage does not progress if we leave a necessarily required blank.


Try entering N/A (not applicable).


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