Poll: Rush jobs - love 'em or hate 'em?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 20:01
May 21, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Rush jobs - love 'em or hate 'em?".

This poll was originally submitted by Oliver Lawrence. View the poll results »


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:01
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other May 21, 2016

It depends on the job.

If there's a premium, more money is always welcome.


Teresa Borges
Local time: 04:01
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Hear, hear! May 21, 2016

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

It depends on the job.

If there's a premium, more money is always welcome.

I just add that it depends very much on the customer. Each month I do a lot of well-paid, small, rush jobs for a long-standing client…


Elena Mordenti  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:01
German to Italian
+ ...
Hate May 21, 2016

I hate rush jobs but someone told me I do my best under pressure.


Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 22:01
German to English
+ ...
True rush jobs ... May 21, 2016

are fine. I.e. an end client gets a sudden notice of a new employment opportunity and must be able to present his CV, or there has been an accident or illness, or unexpected educational opportunities. Real unforeseen emergencies. Then there is also the added bonus of having helped one's fellows. It feels good.

The other kind of rush job - no. This is where agency X competes against other agencies by promising things sooner, faster (and usually cheaper). It goes together with a poor attitude, questionable morals, and often not such a great working relationship. When an agency is dealing with an end client in crisis, then it's back in the first area. It all depends why it's a rush.


Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:01
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Of course, hate 'em May 21, 2016

But how rush is 'rush?'

What is 'rush' for some may be a walk in the park for others who handle only small jobs, which would most likely have the shortest deadlines.

Even if I am asked by 10 am today to do a page or two by 9 the following morning, that's 'rush' for me.
And, I would deign to do it only for regular customers - sporadic or once-in-a-blue-moon customers do not deserve the 'Holmesy special treatment.' icon_smile.gif

Also, if a customer shaves 2 or 3 days off a 3-week delivery for a large job, say a 200-page manual, then that becomes 'rush' for me.

It's all relative to what you're used to handling and your modus operandi.

Oliver, you'll probably get lots of 'Hate 'em' responses from those who, like me, prefer to travel in the slow lane. icon_smile.gif


EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:01
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Neither May 21, 2016

I have no problem with them, most of the time.


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
How I gave up on rush jobs May 21, 2016

I eventually found something useful in living in a country (Brazil) where the MONTHLY interest rate is around 15%+. It was closer to 10%/mo. when it happened.

Before anyone challenges my numbers, these are the actual rates for overdraft or credit card revolving credit (i.e. postponing payment). My account manager explained to me that these rates are higher than loans, because the bank doesn't know when they'll have that money back to plan for investing it in something else.

My tenet here is that an extended payment term is tantamount to the translator funding their client's operating capital. The translator is the start of the supply chain, so any delay in receiving payment is equivalent to granting a loan. I haven't yet found a bank that offers translation services, so why should translators compete with them by offering financial services (aka loans)?

Furthermore, banks - professional money lenders - compete on which one offers loans at the lowest interest rates. Therefore translators - presumably amateur in money lending - should charge the highest interest rates.

Bottom line is that, in practice, if a client overseas doesn't pay me (translator) COD, and I need the money to pay my bills, I'll incur the interest rates prevailing in MY country. If they don't have the money to pay me COD, they can borrow money in THEIR country to do so. If interest rates are different, they should be entitled to the balance.

In rough numbers, it would take a couple of YEARS for a client having secured a loan in the USA to accrue the same amount in interest as it would take me a MONTH to do so in Brazil.

In January 2013 I dared to take longer (two weeks instead of one) vacations. I don't work on vacation, however I keep in touch with my e-mail. On my return the pile of orders was sky-high.

One of them was willing to pay me 50% rush rate to be the first served. As I explained it to another client, this one raised the ante to 80% extra. I thought that I couldn't honestly waitlist a 50%-extra paying job just because someone else was paying 80% extra

Thinking it over, rush rates had always contributed more to wreaking havoc to my schedule, based on sound time management techniques that ensured me no late delivery since 1973, than to my actual income.

So I chose to sort the jobs to serve the shortest payment terms first as a provisional solution, built a feasible working schedule, and informed them all about the predicted delivery date of each job. It worked fine! In about a month, without burning the midnight oil, I was back to my normal workload, and all the clients were happy from the timely service. In fact, it worked so well that I made it permanent.

Later I discovered the beauty of it. If anyone had a real urgency, demanding absolutely top priority, I'd require payment in advance. I'd only take ONE such job at a time, but wouldn't leave it aside until finished and delivered. The beauty lies in nobody else being able to time-travel to the past in order to pay me earlier! For the record, I have been getting only 1~3 such prepaid jobs per year.

I also began stating my standard rates for payment in two weeks, offering very generous (in terms of foreign interest rates) discounts for earlier payment. The final outcome is that now 95% of my clients pay me COD, and rejoice on the discounts they get. In order to make it very clear, my actual translation rates don't change; I keep them separate from the financial burden (i.e. the built-in "loan") embedded in my price.

Now and then I see jobs posted on Proz to the tune of "we need this done within the next 8 hours; payment via PayPal 60 days after EOM", which I disregard immediately.

Yet some prospects approach me saying that they pay in 30 days. I tell them that as long as I have continuous demand, it is extremely unlikely that, with this extended payment term, their job will muster enough "priority" within my system to get done... ever!

On the other end, I found a system to translate rush-less books. I make an estimate of how much I would charge for their (as I name it) "priority commercial translation, and how long it will take. Then I offer the prospect (usually the author) my "book plan": price goes down by 30% and, if the turnaround would be 'X' weeks, it becomes 'X' months. There are other details regarding partial deliveries and partial payments, but this is a neat way to sell my otherwise "idle" time, e.g. between projects, while my translation is being proofread, etc.

So it's all a matter of good time management.


Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:01
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Generally speaking... May 21, 2016

I don't like rush jobs. However, it depends on several factors, the client, the rate offered, the field, my availability, other commitments, etc.


Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
I only accept rush jobs with a rush fee May 21, 2016

and don't mind normally if I have to work (at least partly) on weekends. For me "rush" means that you have to drop everything else in order to complete the job and/or need to work during unsocial hours like weekends, but I never work in the evening or overnight for example. Anyway, I get less and less of those "rush jobs" as nowadays it's very easy to find a translator that doesn't charge any rush fees. My customers know I do and try to avoid and therefore I guess they possibly look for another solution.

I hate instead rush jobs to be completed within 1 or 2 hours and anyway within a given short time; I find this extremely stressing and get nervous, and I accept only from very good customers. Fortunately, this happens hardly ever.

Don't understand why one would love rush jobs in any case. Maybe they get a hefty rush fee (> 100%)? This could be the only explanation...


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:01
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I don't mind tight-schedule jobs, but dislike panic jobs May 21, 2016

Julian Holmes wrote:

But how rush is 'rush?'

What is 'rush' for some may be a walk in the park for others who handle only small jobs, which would most likely have the shortest deadlines.

I generally prefer small jobs, and usually manage to negotiate comfortable deadlines for the amount of work involved. I can plan my time and so on.

I quite enjoy the challenge of occasional tight schedule jobs - a client books me in advance with an idea of what to expect. I agree to be ready, coffee brewed and desk cleared, when the source arrives, and send the translation as soon as possible. For these, I can usually agree on a realistic deadline, and please the client by delivering slightly early.

I dislike panic jobs... I am not always well organised, so even when I have agreed on a reasonable deadline, especially with larger jobs, I sometimes squeeze smaller ones in and end up rushing anyway. Then a client mails with a page from that job I delivered yesterday, which they unfortunately forgot, how fast can I translate it? Deadline yesterday or at best an hour ago...

Panic clients like that seem to come in threes, and they will not take no for an answer! icon_razz.gif
Meanwhile, my originally just-feasible deadline for the first job is looming up... I usually tell the panic clients firmly that I have to finish my current job first, and then I will look at theirs - there is no other option as a rule.


Terry Richards
Local time: 05:01
French to English
+ ...
Indifferent May 21, 2016

Either I can do the job by the time it is needed or I can't. If I can't then no extra amount of money will make it so. If I can but it needs me to work extra hours, we need to negotiate. If I can do it in my normal hours, it's not a rush job.


Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:01
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other (again) May 21, 2016

Again I voted "other", because I think none of us is exempt of such jobs. Many times we are able to charge a rush fee in a day we are free, so we can "love'em". Many times, a regular client asks for a very urgent job, included among your regular monthly jobs, and you have to fit it in for an excellent client, and many times with a regular fee (not rush fee). And we have to stay up late to finish it. In that case, we can "hate'em".


Bruno Veilleux
Local time: 23:01
English to French
Other May 22, 2016

José Henrique Lamensdorf, your post and your system are a thing of beauty. I too hardly look at postings from companies who pay more than 30 days post-invoice, but I absolutely love your way of prioritizing clients. I rarely have enough requests coming in at once to really use it, but I hope I will remember it when that time comes.

As for the poll, I voted Other. I have no particular feeling for rush jobs. I think most of the jobs I take would be considered rush by some, usually with 24-hour deadlines or so. But with the way I work and my criteria for accepting jobs, I rarely actually feel rushed. In seven years as a freelancer, I've delivered a translation within an hour of the deadline only twice, and never late.

The only times I charge more are when I have to schedule work when I had plans for a day off or need to squeeze in more hours than I usually work in a day. If something needs to be done in two hours and I happen to have two hours on my hands, I don't see the need to charge extra. It's no extra effort on my part, so I don't feel like I deserve more compensation. But if it's a three-hour job they want done in two hours, we may need to negotiateicon_smile.gif


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Poll: Rush jobs - love 'em or hate 'em?

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