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Requirements for translators and offers by outsourcers
Thread poster: Bernhard Sulzer

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:00
English to German
+ ...
Dec 12, 2013

I changed this up a bit but it is inspired by real job postings.

I am not trying to complain personally but I believe it's interesting to realize the "logic" behind such "offers." And, any time someone thinks they have to be impressed by an outsourcer and give in to its conditions, they better think twice before being disappointed. In the end, "money matters." If they give in to some substandard rate or condition, the project itself is taken out of the "professional" realm if you will, and all translators suffer, maybe not directly and not personally, but in the long run, these things do have an enormous impact on our industry, and eventually, on each and every translator (my opinion, granted).

Also my opinion: I want to express that a professional freelance translator is as independent as can be and has no obligation to "apply" for a "job." The translator is someone who "offers" a service for a fee and lays down his/her terms and conditions, he/she does not apply for employment, is not an "application candidate," and is not obligated to accept the job poster's "offers" whatsoever.

Your comments and/or musings are appreciated.

Here it goes:


Required from translator

Show us proof of your self-employment and required tax documentation, we prefer candidates who are available as of now and able to provide proof of self-employment and/or tax documentation within 2-3 days
Be able and willing to translate a minimum of 10000 words per week
Have internet access at all times and good computer skills
Native level of XXXX
High level of YYYY
Experienced with translating documents from YYYY into XXXXX
Basic experience using CAT tools
Willing to take unpaid translation test of around 300 words
Independent, reliable, professional, detail-oriented


Offered by us

Free translation system – don't have to buy additional software
A great many translation resources
Full administrative and technical support
Potential long-term cooperation
Compensation of EUR cent per word on a sliding scale depending on the percentage of the translation memory match. Please be advised that these rates are fixed and non-negotiable
Prompt payment and self-billing invoicing
Paid probationary period to coach you on our writing style and to evaluate your translation potential
Detailed feedback on the quality of your work
____________________________________

So, "apply" and see what rates they accept. Better, yet, make sure you check the outsourcer on blueboard first.

B

[Edited at 2013-12-12 16:04 GMT]


 

Paweł Hamerski
Poland
Local time: 15:00
English to Polish
+ ...
I have seen it before. Dec 12, 2013

It comes from some software system provider.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:00
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My thoughts on this type of job Dec 12, 2013

My thoughts are very similar to yours, Bernhard. These offers generally leave me with a very sour taste in the mouth. I like at least a minimum of detail about the job, "French to English translation" being about as much use as a chocolate teapot. We at least need a rough idea of volume, the subject area, maybe language variant(s), file formats, any tools/skills that are really required for the job... But I really don't need to know about all those tempting "goodies" they can offer me. I'm not buying something; I'm selling!

Here are my comments on some of the particular offers and requirements in this specimen job of yours:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
Required from translator

Show us proof of your self-employment and required tax documentation, we prefer candidates who are available as of now and able to provide proof of self-employment and/or tax documentation within 2-3 days

Why proof? Surely a statement to that effect would be sufficient. Are we going to have a business relationship based on good faith, or on mistrust? If it's mistrust, I want proof that you can (and will) pay! What if the translator's tax authorities simply don't provide a neat piece of paper to prove any such thing? Are they not to be trusted with the work?
Be able and willing to translate a minimum of 10000 words per week

I imagine most of us could say "Yes" to that; but would we be prepared to work all week for one single client? That's a different matter. I don't like to put all my eggs in one basket and I like to send invoices to several clients each month.

Offered by us

Free translation system – don't have to buy additional software

I should think not! But would I get any future leverage from all this work? Or would that benefit go to you? What benefit is this "translation system" to me?
Compensation of EUR cent per word on a sliding scale depending on the percentage of the translation memory match.

Whose memory? Why should I accept less for a match that had absolutely zero use in the current context and took just as long to translate as starting from scratch?
Please be advised that these rates are fixed and non-negotiable

Sorry, it's my right to fix my own rates. We can negotiate, I might even accept your rate without further comment if it's higher than my normal rateicon_wink.gif, but it's entirely at my discretion.
Paid probationary period to coach you on our writing style and to evaluate your translation potential

Is that a way of saying I won't get paid the full agreed rate from Day 1? After all those years of experience, I'm to be treated as a beginner? What cheek!


 

Tiffany Hardy  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:00
Spanish to English
Couldn't agree more Dec 12, 2013

But I believe that agencies take on this negotiating standpoint because they can. We as translators need to set standards for ourselves that we don't shift from. The bottom line is our services are in increasing demand and we are really the ones to decide our rates, not the agencies.

When an agency replies to my CV with "these are our rates" and pastes a very official looking table with their laughable rates in them, I reply with a very polite email with my own very official looking table. After all, I am the one offering the service here.

Just today I had to re-negotiate rates already negotiated. Basically, an agency responded to my CV expressing an interest and inquiring about my rates. They came back to me with a much lower number and I offered to come down slightly and they agreed. They then sent me a test translation which I completed, consisting of a variety of different texts from different fields.

A couple weeks later they responded saying they were happy with the results and were very eager to start me on a huge project they had on the table and asked me to fill out a very time-consuming amount of paperwork - Europass CV, confidentiality agreements, internal summary profile, in addition to sending my scanned degrees, downloading their CAT software, etc. etc. etc. I complied.

Then, they email me saying that my rates were too high and that they really can't offer me much work, especially not with this particular project they needed to cover, unless I lower my rates half a cent. I replied recalling the agreed upon rates and stating that I will not work for less than the rate already negotiated. Then they asked yet again, pressing that we won't be able to collaborate very often. I said I was willing to wait for the projects that reflected the agreed upon rates.

I do in fact work for less with another agency, but to me it's the principle of the matter. It's abusive and I draw the line and I hope others do the same with this sort of unacceptable business ethic.

I'm considering asking them to delete my file altogether because I don't imagine it will get much easier to work with them.


 

Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:00
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Independent? Dec 12, 2013

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:


Required from translator
...
Be able and willing to translate a minimum of 10000 words per week
...
Independent, ...


B

[Edited at 2013-12-12 16:04 GMT]


That's a bit of a contradiction, isn't it? Make yourself dependent on us, but be independent. Nice one.

I had a very similar thing in my inbox today, but their rates were stated. I felt compelled to reply: "Unfortunately, I do not take on assignments or enter into collaborations that pay less than the unemployment benefits in this country."


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:00
French to English
+ ...
Agency confusion... Dec 12, 2013

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
Also my opinion: I want to express that a professional freelance translator is as independent as can be and has no obligation to "apply" for a "job."


I think this is the crux of it and it's something that I often see in postings from large agencies: they confuse requests for collaboration from service providers as a being a "job advertisement" in the sense of an offer of full-time employment. Possibly this occurs in part because their personnel departments do actually recruit employed translators and hence deal with both types of "job".


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:00
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
The details Dec 13, 2013

And this would be my business proposal:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

Required from translator


Required from agency

Kindly present me with proof of your tax documentation within 2-3 days

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

Basic experience using CAT tools
Willing to take unpaid translation test of around 300 words
Independent, reliable, professional, detail-oriented



Please note that I have I working experience in translations of XXX years.
Please express your willingness to pay me my full rate for any test translations you might require.
(Sample translations are available on my profile.)
As an independent translator, reliability, professionalism and detail-orientation are essential.

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

Offered by us

Free translation system – don't have to buy additional software

Full administrative and technical support
Potential long-term cooperation


Thank you for your offer. All of my software has been paid for.
As your service partner, full administrative and technical support are essential for a successful collaboration.

My services are aimed at a long-term collaboration.

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

Compensation of EUR cent per word on a sliding scale depending on the percentage of the translation memory match. Please be advised that these rates are fixed and non-negotiable



On larger projects (over 10,000 words) a discount might be negotiable at my sole discretion. Please be advised that my standard rates are fixed and are not negotiable. I can, however, assure you that they will not be raised in the next XXX- months.

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

Prompt payment and self-billing invoicing
Paid probationary period to coach you on our writing style and to evaluate your translation potential
Detailed feedback on the quality of your work


Please ensure that all invoices are paid on time. In case of late payments, conditions apply.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 15:00
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I already have a CAT tool too. Dec 13, 2013

I have invested in one of the most expensive on the market, after trying others and ditching most of them.

Some are more annoying than others, but as I am doing the work, I also decide which tools I will use.

Imagine offering to sell your dentist a drill, or your car mechanic a spanner icon_biggrin.gif
I could have a good laugh with my dentist, but he decides about the drill...

We need not behave like obedient schoolchildren - I dropped that at the age of around ten, unless I really liked the teacher!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:00
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Perfect! Dec 13, 2013

Christine Andersen wrote:
Imagine offering to sell your dentist a drill, or your car mechanic a spanner icon_biggrin.gif

icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif Put like that it does sound completely ridiculous - so why is it almost accepted in this industry?icon_frown.gif

We need not behave like obedient schoolchildren

Absolutely! If there's one message that should be drummed into every new freelancer (translator, programmer, web designer, graphic artist...), it's that one. In fact, I'd go further and say we will never be respected if we do behave that way. How can we expect respect from others if we have no self-respect?


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:00
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
respect respect Dec 13, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Christine Andersen wrote:
Imagine offering to sell your dentist a drill, or your car mechanic a spanner icon_biggrin.gif

icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif Put like that it does sound completely ridiculous - so why is it almost accepted in this industry?icon_frown.gif

We need not behave like obedient schoolchildren

Absolutely! If there's one message that should be drummed into every new freelancer (translator, programmer, web designer, graphic artist...), it's that one. In fact, I'd go further and say we will never be respected if we do behave that way. How can we expect respect from others if we have no self-respect?


Couldn't agree more.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:00
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A semantic issue on 'orders' Dec 13, 2013

Professional translators take (purchase) orders from their clients.

Such orders mean:
We need this job done, and we want you to do it. This order means that we have agreed to the price, terms, and conditions you have quoted for it, so you are hereby authorized to get started. Do your part on time, and we'll do ours as well.


Amateur translators take orders (i.e. commands) from their clients (superiors).

Such orders mean:
We have the money, so we financially outrank you. Therefore you are hereby commanded to do this job exactly the way we want you to do it. After you are through, if we are happy with it, and when we feel like doing so, we'll send you an amount of money we consider sufficient to compensate you for the rare privilege of having served our majesty.


It's just a matter of the individual willing to provide translation services to decide on which group they belong to, and catering to the proper clientele. This will determine what an "order" will mean in the transaction.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 15:00
English to Polish
+ ...
Doesn't look bad for beginners Dec 14, 2013

That part about 10K words per week and that initial probationary period isn't bad for a beginner with some existent but still relatively small experience. An experienced translator wouldn't probably be happy to be coached on someone else's writing style, while guaranteeing 10K words per week could be a problem. Otherwise it doesn't look bad. It's markedly free of a handful of typical translation job ad phrasing I dislike so much. Also, it looks close to an inhouse job. Basically, the issue is probably targeting here.

[Edited at 2013-12-14 09:48 GMT]


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:00
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
To the "beginners" Dec 14, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

That part about 10K words per week and that initial probationary period isn't bad for a beginner with some existent but still relatively small experience. An experienced translator wouldn't probably be happy to be coached on someone else's writing style, while guaranteeing 10K words per week could be a problem. Otherwise it doesn't look bad. It's markedly free of a handful of typical translation job ad phrasing I dislike so much. Also, it looks close to an inhouse job. Basically, the issue is probably targeting here.

[Edited at 2013-12-14 09:48 GMT]


The issue is you have to read between the lines. One example: showing "how much they offer" is supposed to impress the "applicant" and can weaken his/her negotiating stance when the rates are discussed. Newcomers to our profession might fall for that. But they shouldn't.

You write "That part about 10K words per week and that initial probationary period isn't bad for a beginner with some existent but still relatively small experience."

A beginner isn't supposed to be someone who doesn't know what they're doing. Before you offer your services, you should make sure you can do the job accurately. Granted, experience will always be an important additional factor, but any "beginner" who can do the job accurately is entitled to the same respect for his/her work and to adequate rates. Any "beginner" should already have good reason (education and life experience) when starting as a translator.
Don't be impressed by an outsourcer's "offers" and "support system" which can all turn out to be tools to reject your work partially or entirely, especially if you let yourself be seen as a "beginner."

Start your own business/serice with pride and be "independent." Work on your terms. Check the average rates here at Proz.com if you are starting out, don't get taken advantage of. You'll regret it latter. And so do we all.

B

[Edited at 2013-12-14 14:28 GMT]


 


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