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Off topic: Bloopers in job applications
Thread poster: Nicole Schnell

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:52
English to German
+ ...
May 14, 2014

My inbox often is flooded with job applications from translators, usually sent from IP addresses in the Middle East, ending with hotmail.com. I usually send those fake applications straight to the bin but rarely without reading the cover letter first. You can, uhm, learn a lot about how (young) people write their applications these days.

This one caught my eye:

"I am a translator with a proven ability to translate a written document from a source language to a target language."


I don't know what to say...


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:52
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not that bad May 14, 2014

I've read the sentence 3 times now and find nothing disconcerting or even mildly amusing. What am I missing? Although it could be improved, to me it just looks like a reasonable stab at native English by a non-native.

Perhaps a fuller explanation of what is wrong with the sentence/ approach and some gentle advice on how to avoid these shortcomings in future might make for a more useful critique than what some might perceive as sneering from on high.

[Edited at 2014-05-14 08:17 GMT]


 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:52
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
well, you can never start too early (born in translation) May 14, 2014

This came in today...

"My name is Fabio and my translation skills date back to when I was born (my mother is British and my father is Italian). "


---
Ed

[Edited at 2014-05-14 08:16 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:52
Spanish to English
+ ...
Give that man a job! May 14, 2014

Edward Vreeburg wrote:

This came in today...

"My name is Fabio and my translation skills date back to when I was born (my mother is British and my father is Italian). "


I find this type of mild non-native howler rather endearing...


 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:52
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Missing the point, Neil May 14, 2014

What Nicole means (very obviously) is not that he can't express himself, but that if a plumber markets himself with "I am a plumber with a proven ability to fix toilets when they don't work", it doesn't make you want to read on.

And, what makes you think he's non-native? No mistakes there, and anyway natives can sound odd too.

Mervyn


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:52
Spanish to English
+ ...
Obvious is as obvious does May 14, 2014

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

What Nicole means (very obviously) is not that he can't express himself, but that if a plumber markets himself with "I am a plumber with a proven ability to fix toilets when they don't work", it doesn't make you want to read on.

And, what makes you think he's non-native? No mistakes there, and anyway natives can sound odd too.

Mervyn


If that is indeed the thrust of Nicole's comment, I'm afraid it (still) isn't all that obvious to me.
I thought it was from a non-native because (to me) it just seems like rather clumsy wording. I spent some time wondering about how necessary the "a" in front of "proven ability" was...

I still don't really get the plumber analogy - unless you mean he/she should simply have said something more succinct like "I am an experienced plumber"... but even the most literate of us may come a cropper when trying to gild the lily, as many people feel obliged to do in job applications or cover letters. I usually have no problem with constructive criticism, but I saw this one as mere sniping.


 

Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:52
Member (2007)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Those "applications" are not from a plumber... May 14, 2014

...they are surely from languagemet
(see http://www.proz.com/forum/scams/248549-languagemet.html)
the mother of all scammers...


 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:52
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
written document / source - target language May 14, 2014

what I found amusing is that this looks very much like a template which was not filled in...

written document (as opposed to a spoken document? i.e. translation vs interpreting?)

from language A to B (sure - that is the whole point of translation, right?)
doesn't really matter which two languages I suppose when you apply for a job.....

it has "scammer" written all over it...

(same as anthing that starts with : Dear Sir,,

(yes, I stop reading after those double commas)


---
Ed


 

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 03:52
English to German
+ ...
Surprise May 14, 2014

A real surprise would be something like this:

Dear Sir,,

I am a translator with the proven ability to fix toilets when they don't work.


If I was trying to find a translator, the very least I would expect was that he is able to translate written documents from the source language to the target language, so mentioning this ability in a job application is somewhat redundant... I guess I made the same mistake of stating the obvious in my first job applications, although not that obvious, more in the line of "reliable", "meticulous" etc.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:52
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The cutest job application blooper ever May 14, 2014

This was long before the Internet, and not a translating position, but a full-time marketing job.

The applicant was visibly a foreigner in Brazil, however his written Portuguese was not too bad. In his cover letter however, he mixed two somewhat close-sounding words, when he wrote: Tenho 25 anos de esperança neste mercado.

I am sure he wanted to say he had 25 years' experience (experiência) in this market, but instead he wrote he had 25 years of hope (esperança) in it.

I still wonder if, on behalf of that century-old company, I should have replied to him that we held similar hopes for much longer.


ADDED LATER:
I just recalled, in the same recruitment process another applicant listed, among his (few) qualifications:

  • I am fully capable of operating of a four function portable electronic calculator, of which I am the legitimate owner.

    What a shame! If only his calculator had - and he knew how to operate - the square root and percentage funcions...

    [Edited at 2014-05-14 11:02 GMT]

     

  • Andrea Diaz
    Mexico
    Local time: 20:52
    English to Spanish
    + ...
    How helpful. May 14, 2014

    Oh dear, would you care to elaborate more on this subject? I constantly tweak and fix my cover letter, and I always dread making mistakes like these. I agree that that sentence is terrible, but what's wrong with having a hotmail account? I created a separate email account for my classmates and professors a few years ago, and used it for any job I took during that time. It has served me well so far, and it would be a huge bother to change it now.

     

    José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
    Brazil
    Local time: 22:52
    English to Portuguese
    + ...
    The problem with free e-mail accounts May 14, 2014

    Andrea Diaz wrote:

    ... but what's wrong with having a hotmail account?


    The concept goes like this...
    If you are an employee of ACME Corp. and they provide you with a name @ acme.com e-mail address, any correspondence yousend/receive on/from that address may be legally opened and read by ACME's auditors, IT governance etc. If you are sending spam from there, e-harassing anyone, distributing porn, whatever, you are accountable before ACME for what you do, in terms of the company's good name, and also in terms of the time during working hours you spend in job-unrelated endeavors.

    The point is that yes, they DO have legal access to your e-mail communications done on the address they provided you at no charge.

    Likewise, FREE e-mail accounts on Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, and many others are not bound by any non-disclosure commitment from them. So if your prospects ever send you confidential and valuable information, if these FREE e-mail services providers consider that they may have some profit from selling or publishing it, they CAN do it.

    I pay for all my e-mail services. They are cheap, something like US$ 5 per month each, which includes security. If any incoming or outgoing content there leaks, they'll have to prove that they had taken every possible caution to keep it confidential, and that they were victims of some above-average clever hackers.

    Paid e-mail services give your prospects some additional reassurance that you really care about the security of the information they entrust you with.


     

    Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
    United States
    Local time: 18:52
    English to German
    + ...
    TOPIC STARTER
    @ neilmac: Why this email caught my eye May 14, 2014

    neilmac wrote:

    I've read the sentence 3 times now and find nothing disconcerting or even mildly amusing. What am I missing? Although it could be improved, to me it just looks like a reasonable stab at native English by a non-native.

    Perhaps a fuller explanation of what is wrong with the sentence/ approach and some gentle advice on how to avoid these shortcomings in future might make for a more useful critique than what some might perceive as sneering from on high.




    1.) This was pretty much the entire text. Except address and greeting.

    2.) The translator does not mention at all which source or target languages he is talking about.

    3.) Which makes this one the most puzzling application I have ever received.


     

    neilmac  Identity Verified
    Spain
    Local time: 03:52
    Spanish to English
    + ...
    In that case... May 14, 2014

    Nicole Schnell wrote:

    1.) This was pretty much the entire text. Except address and greeting.

    2.) The translator does not mention at all which source or target languages he is talking about.

    3.) Which makes this one the most puzzling application I have ever received.



    I suppose it does look a bit suspect, possibly from a scammer or a desperate"google-translator." I occasionally get CVs from translators whose English isn't great - got one last week from an Arabic translator - so I'm usually prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. I don't solicit these things, so I suppose they have seen my profile on proz or a similar site and assumed that I am an agency.
    I also occasionally get asked to submit papers to scientific journals with non-native editors - I suppose the askers have seen my name and some document or other that I've translated or revised and assume that I must be an authority in the field. Or again they may just be scammers.


     

    Paul Harrison MITI
    United Kingdom
    Local time: 02:52
    French to English
    Too funny May 15, 2014

    José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
  • I am fully capable of operating of a four function portable electronic calculator, of which I am the legitimate owner.


  • I've been laughing about this since I saw it yesterday! He/she must have been really wracking their brains to fill space on their CV... and then they thought of their most prized possession: that four function electronic calculator!

    Edited for a typo.

    [Edited at 2014-05-15 08:38 GMT]


     
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