Spotlight on: Reading between posters' lines
Thread poster: Bernhard Sulzer

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:12
Partial member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
May 18, 2015

As a professional, you want to be able to distinguish between those who want to exploit you and those who are interested in professional business relationships.

Examples below have been slightly altered to protect the posters.

This one goes out to all those who left their home countries to pursue "rewarding" careers because they couldn't earn enough at home or those who have lived far away and still acquired an incredible command of their working languages, far away from where these languages are usually spoken.

Example 1 from a job posting: other platform

From an Indian outsourcer

German to English

"We are searching for German to English translators located in India to translate about 100 000 words, legal documents. Only translators from India please send CV with best price to info@xxxxxxxxxxservice.co.in asap.

Reading between the lines: Not only do you have to live in India, but in addition, quote the very lowest rate you can quote there. Reaction from professional translator: man, who are we competing with here? I hope we are not. This just cracks me up. Ridiculous!


Example 2 shows how little difference there is in some people's approaches to finding that great translator for that low rate, wherever they're looking for or posting from: from this platform

Business/Marketing field: from a German outsourcer (works in language-related field)

English to German:

"The average monthly translation scope over the past few months has been approximately 18,000 words each month. Please let us know if you could make that commitment.

Note by ProZ.com staff: The budget entered for this job is below the rates charged by at least 80% of ProZ.com members for this pair and currency."

Reading between the lines: Look, we've got so much work for you every month, isn't that great? I'm sure you can work for an incredibly low rate, buster. Reaction by professional translator: And you're from Germany?
________________________________________

What have you been reading through the lines lately?

Let's list positive examples as well!

We should point out sometimes what is acceptable and what is not.


[Edited at 2015-05-19 02:44 GMT]


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Read between lines May 18, 2015

1. If you need water, you can find a pond on the street and drink it.

2. If you need water and also care about your health, you might decide to go for a plastic bottle available in any supermarket.

3. If you need water, care about your health and are not willing to put up with plastic-like "flavour", you will most certainly buy a glass bottle.

Number 1 is free. Number 2 is peanuts. Number 3 is actually quite some money. So, people make their choices.

[Edited at 2015-05-18 18:21 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-05-18 18:21 GMT]


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Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member because it was not in line with site rule

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:12
Partial member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Clarification May 19, 2015

What I would like to see is some examples of what newcomers or even experienced translators should watch out for when they read job postings. It's about making people aware of some of the pitfalls based on language used in job posts, but also show examples of fair posts.

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Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:12
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Don't read between the lines, ignore the lines! May 19, 2015

Rather than reading between the lines and making all sorts of assumptions may I suggest a different approach?

Ignore all those unnecessary lines and only strip out the bare essentials. (Ie. ask yourself "Is this my field of expertise?", "Do I have the capacity to take on this job?", "Would I like to take on this job?"). Then you can take it further and ask to see the source files and/or quote (ie. tell the client when you can deliver the job and how much it would cost).

Ignore that the poster initially hinted that they needed those 84,000 words by yesterday lunchtime and only offered 10 grams of sugar per 1,000 words. All that is of no concern to you. They asked for a quote and, if you feel like quoting, a quote is what they will get.

And on a different note: If the infamous phrase "your best rate" does indeed mean "the very lowest rate you can quote", why would that be a ridiculously low rate? The lowest rate you can quote would, by definition, still be a rate on which you can live comfortably, wouldn't it? Otherwise it would not be a rate you can quote.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:12
Partial member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Great suggestion May 19, 2015

Thomas Pfann wrote:

Rather than reading between the lines and making all sorts of assumptions may I suggest a different approach?

Ignore all those unnecessary lines and only strip out the bare essentials. (Ie. ask yourself "Is this my field of expertise?", "Do I have the capacity to take on this job?", "Would I like to take on this job?"). Then you can take it further and ask to see the source files and/or quote (ie. tell the client when you can deliver the job and how much it would cost).

Ignore that the poster initially hinted that they needed those 84,000 words by yesterday lunchtime and only offered 10 grams of sugar per 1,000 words. All that is of no concern to you. They asked for a quote and, if you feel like quoting, a quote is what they will get.

And on a different note: If the infamous phrase "your best rate" does indeed mean "the very lowest rate you can quote", why would that be a ridiculously low rate? The lowest rate you can quote would, by definition, still be a rate on which you can live comfortably, wouldn't it? Otherwise it would not be a rate you can quote.


Hi Thomas,

Thank you for your practical suggestion.
This is really a great approach:

Thomas Pfann wrote:
Ignore all those unnecessary lines and only strip out the bare essentials. (Ie. ask yourself "Is this my field of expertise?", "Do I have the capacity to take on this job?", "Would I like to take on this job?"). Then you can take it further and ask to see the source files and/or quote (ie. tell the client when you can deliver the job and how much it would cost).


I would add (for newcomers) to inform yourself about adequate rates and payment practices, and what is expected of you.
Don't agree with everything here, but it's a good start for new translators:
http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Determining_your_rates_and_fees_as_a_translator

And, for approaching adequate rates (although these are still on the low side):
http://search.proz.com/employers/rates


Here's is what I would have to add:
If everyone would act that way (as suggested above), things would get much better as far as posts are concerned, at least that's what I believe. But that's not the case. Now, you mentioned the "best rate" and I had a thread about that recently. Problem is that often, best rate will mean what the poster wants it to mean, and, here's the important part, some translators will acquiesce and provide their services for it (can't say how much of this will be of good or poor quality). So, I think it's important to alert newcomers to the fact that "best rate" should, as you suggest, mean a reasonable rate.
But the requests I see by posters are filled with the phrase and I bet the meaning has been hijacked. Will telling newcomers about the euphemism of this word have any positive effect on the industry? I can only hope.

Question is always why should you or I care about what other translators do and why shouldn't we just concentrate on our services and make the best of it?
To me, I always think it's like sticking my head in the sand and not wanting to see what's going on around me. Does it matter that so many "underpaid" projects are carried out these days? Does it hurt us, you and me, in any way? My theory is that it does. Each underpaid job is a job that was taken away from the professional community or, basically, the translator who took it on, is being exploited. Now, yes, many will say "I sometimes have to take on cheaper jobs to make a living," and that might be true but there had to be a threshold below which no one should really go. What do you think the threshold is? Do you think newcomers are aware of it or even care about it - as long as they get "accepted" to carry out a project?

Now, since I can't force (and wouldn't want to "force") anyone to charge better rates, I want to alert readers to some of the tell-tale signs of unprofessional posting or, on the other hand, show some good examples (should they still exist) and convince them to charge more and do other things "professionally"and thus contribute a little bit to improving the industry. Rates are just one factor, timelines, payment methods and payment terms are others. Demanding language ("need not apply if you don't ...,") are other signs of unprofessional posters. Blueboard postings with ratings of less than 5 are also very telling.


So, I am happy with additional comments on this topic hoping it will keep the discussion about our industry going, especially with regard to posters' and translators' practices.

[Edited at 2015-05-19 13:25 GMT]


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:12
Partial member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Today's sample May 28, 2015

Maybe if I just show you a text, you might be interested in "reading between the lines" - meaning
tell me what this job post would really say to YOU (about the poster, the job, and possibly anyone who takes it).


Why the exercise? As an eye-opener for some. As a reminder of things happening in this industry for others.


Sample (altered from a real post to protect you know who):

German to English

Posting:


Financial report
We need the translation of a financial report with around 45-50 pages (various file types) The originals will be available soon, in 1 or 2 days, at 10 am in the morning. We need the translation back at 4 pm the same day our time (Germany!) Since we're dealing with various separate files, we can easily split up the job. Please tell us how many pages you can accept for the projected time (see above).
Thank you so much.

-------

Note: Seriously?


[Edited at 2015-05-28 18:38 GMT]


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:12
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Self-sabotage May 28, 2015

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
We need the translation of a financial report with around 45-50 pages (various file types) The originals will be available soon, in 1 or 2 days, at 10 am in the morning. We need the translation back at 4 pm the same day our time (Germany!)

You just wonder what kind of agency would accept such a job from the client in the first place. What were they thinking? They're only setting themselves up for failure. Get involved with a project like this and some of the blame could easily find its way to you...

Dan


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