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Poll: Are you willing to provide potential clients with references or letters of recommendation?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 02:53
SITE STAFF
Feb 13, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Are you willing to provide potential clients with references or letters of recommendation?".

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Georgia Morgan  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 10:53
Member (2011)
Portuguese to English
No Feb 13, 2015

But I will provide samples of work I have done and always attach a copy of my Diploma in Translation. I also don't mind doing test translations as long as they are short.

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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:53
Member
German to English
+ ...
No Feb 13, 2015

Providing references not only breaches client confidentiality, it is also questionable in terms of competition. Why would anyone want to recommend a translator to a competitor?

I will, however, point them at my WWA ratings on here or complete a short test translation - a policy which has reaped massive rewards over the years!


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
There's the short answer and there's the Ronnie Corbett answer Feb 13, 2015

Short answer:

We don't need to. We don't do any marketing, so we will have been recommended to them already by another customer.

Long answer:

Last year our best-paying customer asked us to produce a set of written proceedings from a pile of really poor audio files from a conference they organised - basically a bunch of non-natives talking about technical aspects of insurance in "English" and recorded on an old mobile phone buried under a pile of books and banana skins in a bin full of gnawing rats down the corridor in a different building in a howling gale and under ten foot of water.

We don't do that kind of thing but the customer was desperate, so rather than say no we quoted really high and, well, like I say, they were desperate, so they went for it. Dammo, as we say round here.

Because the recordings were so poor and the accents so strong, we decided in the end not to work directly from the recordings but to get a professional transcription company to produce a written version for us to use.

Now this is what I'm getting to:

- Did I go to transcribersRus forum? Did I contact the national transcribers association?

No, I got out the phone book and rang the first one on the list.

- Did I ask them for references or letters of recommendation?

No, I took it on trust that they would do a half-decent job because transcription is their business, and knew that if they made a hash of the first file I could always try someone else instead.

Isn't that the way the (rest of the) world works?


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Gudrun Maydorn  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:53
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
No Feb 13, 2015

Mary Worby wrote:

Providing references not only breaches client confidentiality, it is also questionable in terms of competition.


[Bearbeitet am 2015-02-13 09:07 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:53
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No Feb 13, 2015

I've published my own policy on that, and I really uphold it. Anyone in need of some reassurance may check my WWAs.

I like to work for smart clients. As I won't do unsupervised cleaning work on their premises, there is no chance that I'll steal their silverware, abuse their children/pets, etc.

An enthusiastic letter of recommendation on the brilliant translation of a management development training program I delivered will be useless to a client who e.g. needs medical translation... which I'll decline, and suggest a couple of specialized translators I know personally. I list my specialty and off-limits areas in advance, if they bother to read.

What should matter most is making it obvious that I strive to understand the prospect's current needs and find the most time/cost-effective solution to fulfill them.

Dumb clients will struggle to force me into buying/having/using a specific CAT tool, even when ANY such software is useless, and to impose their rates and payment terms upon me.

My approach is to make it obvious to smart clients that they can really trust me to deliver the best cost/benefit value-added solution. I can only do it with my actions while handling THEIR case at hand. The number of times I did it in the past for others should become irrelevant.


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DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:53
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
No ... Feb 13, 2015

I'm not actively seeking out new clients so I don't usually get asked to either.
I mean, I'm not turning away anyone of reasonable repute who comes knocking on my door either. But I guess when someone approaches me I've already been recommended to them or they are satisfied with the information they found in my online profile.

[Edited at 2015-02-13 09:14 GMT]


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:53
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
This would be true... Feb 13, 2015

Mary Worby wrote:

Providing references not only breaches client confidentiality, it is also questionable in terms of competition. Why would anyone want to recommend a translator to a competitor?

... if the client providing a reference were an agency. All my referees are direct clients.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
It depends Feb 13, 2015

If I am approaching them, then I think I should be prepared to provide them some sort of reference. However, if it's them who comes to me, I assume they already know what I'm about.

Agencies billing for European tenders sometimes ask for quite a lot of bumf, which I usually can't be bothered with - for example original copies of my degree certificate and things like that - and it's usually just too much faffing about for me.


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Kimberly Wastler  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:53
Italian to English
+ ...
Yes - but... Feb 13, 2015

Only from customers whom I have asked in advance if they would provide recommendations.

I would never give out the name of a person without having asked their permission first. As already said by others, to do otherwise would be a breach of confidentiality and my personal professional ethics.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:53
German to English
question confusing Feb 13, 2015

I would never ask someone for a "letter of recommendation," and I would never provide someone's telephone number or e-mail in the sense of a "reference" as it would be understood in the US (= please contact this person and demand that they spend their time talking to you about me).

On the other hand, on the rare occasions when I include a profile in my offers for projects, I do give specific names of businesses, individuals, or institutions that I work with, but I don't think that anyone in a German-speaking country would then have the idea of calling or e-mailing these people to ask questions about me (at least no one has ever complained about this kind of behavior, which I assume everyone involved would find annoying).


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 19:53
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
No Feb 13, 2015

I've never been asked to do this in my 30+ years of translation here in Japan. 30+ years of translation in itself should prove something and obviate the need for this, anyway.
Besides, Japanese clients never give references anyway. Why would they recommend me to potential competition?

Even if I were asked by a client, I'd ask the same of them since theoretically we're supposed to be on the same footing.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 10:53
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Ditto! Feb 13, 2015

Kimberly Wastler wrote:

Only from customers whom I have asked in advance if they would provide recommendations.

I would never give out the name of a person without having asked their permission first. As already said by others, to do otherwise would be a breach of confidentiality and my personal professional ethics.


In general, when someone approaches me they have already done their homework or I have been recommended. If I’m very interested on a job I have no problem completing a short test translation…


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:53
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No, but ... Feb 13, 2015

I answered "Other." I have posted several references on my website, and I direct new customers to that link.

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:53
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
No Feb 13, 2015

At first I answered "it depends", but actually, I don't provide anyone with the names of my clients. Not only do NDA's prohibit this, I also feel that my clients should know that I will not share any information about them with others.

I've been asked a few times to provide information about my clients (references) and always politely replied that this potential client would surely not want me to "spread the word" about her or him. I do take the word confidentiality serious.


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