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Poll: What percentage of translation tests have you have completed have actually resulted in a paid job?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 14:30
SITE STAFF
Jul 25, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What percentage of translation tests have you have completed have actually resulted in a paid job?".

This poll was originally submitted by Patricia Fierro, M. Sc.

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 18:30
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
Tests are okay Jul 25, 2006

I have no qualms about doing test translations, though I know that there is a big debate about whether or not translators should accept them. The only part I don't like about test translations is when they are long and take time away from my workday.

Reed


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Radica Schenck  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:30
English to Macedonian
+ ...
Never ever done a test I've been sent Jul 25, 2006

I'm considering these days what arrangements to make with an agency that requires I do a test for them. I'd really like to work with them, so this is the first time I'm facing the nightmare.

It's usually not a question whether it's for free or not. Even not a question whether I'll get the job afterwards. (cause I'm confident I would. But I would get a job without the test, a good record speaks for itself more than thousand pseudo-tests ). The issue here is: how do they (the agency, the end client) know it's really me who did the translation, and not someone else? Why should I bother doing a test, when someone else may simply delegate the task further on to a better colleague, and apply for the job (they outsource ehm...) ? And then they still get the job?

So far, when an agency had asked me to do a test, I was able to offer an alternative: I do the test, and charge a fee. When it is followed by an assignment, I deduce that fee from the PO. If I don't get an assignment, then I'm mailing the invoice. Or the second option I offer is that I send a sample translation of mine in the same field of expertise (as similar as possible). May sound a bit suspicious, but I want to be on the safe side, too. So far, this second option has always been accepted.

I don't really have the time to do test translations, the many biergärten in Munich are the prevailing argument ...

Have a great summer!


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Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2002)
Swedish
+ ...
Why free test translations? Jul 25, 2006

I guess that this poll is focused on free test translations.

I can not accept the fact that some outsourcers demand that translators should work for free. After all, nobody would ever think of testing any other service provider for free, e.g. tax consultant and lawyer, just to test his/her services.

Test translations, OK, but they need to be paid for, and as Reed says, they shouldn't be too long and also have a reasonable deadline.

Erik

**********************************
Erik Hansson ( SFÖ )
Technical translator DE-SV
Hansson Übersetzungen GmbH
Website www.hansson.de
ProZ profile http://www.proz.com/pro/21654
***********************************


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Alicia Casal  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 18:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feedback Jul 25, 2006

We completed many. Got some jobs...
But the issue is that they send the test and never ever give you the result.

You start asking for it..........

Once, they sent us one, they said "poor translation." (after 3 months)

I would say: poor proofreader.

We had it reviewed after the result arrived, and several prestigious colleagues also said the proofreader was incompetent.

The Agency was from Spain. We localized. We also sent translator s notes, bla bla bla.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 16:30
English to Russian
+ ...
tests, tests, tests... Jul 25, 2006

Just how exactly one should figure out if a translator is fit for THE job? Rely on self-proclaimed superiority, resumes and a few lines from old work on somewhat-related subject?

IMHO, the only options for choosing a translator:

1. Specific test
2. Recommendation by a known and respected colleague
3. Outstanding proven portfolio in the field

Free? Absolutely. When, say, a government announces a bid, companies spend tens of thousands of dollars and only one gets the bid. Even Julia Roberts does and loses movie tests:-) This is the normal course of daily business in any industry, this is an integral part of client-contractor market relationship. Contractors invest to make money.

Tax consultant/lawyer? Yes, you have to pay for every hour, but if you don't do an advance comparison shopping and seek no recommendations, you are... very naive and likely will end up firing him and cutting your losses. BTW, many of them offer free initial consultation or do small favors/offer discounts to new clients. My 3 very well established CPAs did ( reasons I lost the first 2 were sad - auto crash and illness, otherwise I would have stayed with any of them forever).

Falling for "test of 600 words by tomorrow" indicates one's lack of experience and business savvy, but in no way diminishes the importance of properly arranged and introduced translation test requested by a reputable client.

If after I worked my tail off and dried up my budget to win a 1000000 words/dollars project you want a piece of it, prove it to my editors. Or let's go our separate ways peacefully. I respect your attitude, you respect mine:-). Not in a million years I would risk my reputation and deadlines because one believes that such investment is too much or beneath one's dignity. By choosing to offer a test I choose to pay the editor, remember?

If were to vote, the answer would be 100%, but I have only done it 3 times and these 3 clients feed me for 7-15 years:-)

Implied, however, that we shouldn't be fishing for everything that floats on the surface:-)

Good business luck,
Irene


[Edited at 2006-07-25 15:11]


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 00:30
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Ah, Irene, I just love you :) Jul 25, 2006

... and I know that you know that I do.

Whenever I read your postings, they're so great energizers. Keep it up, and continue to help us to keep sane in this crazy world.

My hat's off...

Kirill


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Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:30
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Ironic Jul 25, 2006

When I started to work full time as a freelancer, I completed a series of translation tests. Those who replied with the result told me that my work was in compliance with their standars, blah, blah. Except for two clients I remember, none of them ever sent me a job. Ironically, any of my current, prestigious clients never asked me to complete a test.

So, I believe that translation tests come many times from cheaters who take advantage of new translators to get their work done for free.

I even remember some shameless ones who asked for translation tests with tight deadlines.

Beware of the translation rogues.

Elías

[Edited at 2006-07-25 14:55]


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 16:30
English to Russian
+ ...
Yeah:-) Jul 25, 2006

Elías Sauza wrote:

Except for two clients I remember, none of them ever sent me a job.


This is why a standard balance sheet has an "Overhead" section. I accept it as something coming with the territory. As far as I can remember, The Times didn't publish anything about my translation skills recently, so I feel obliged to introduce myself to new people with whom I seek mutually beneficial business relationship:-)

Regards,
Irene

Kirill, I do too:-)


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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 17:30
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
My answer may be misleading... Jul 25, 2006

...because I chose the highest option and would have chosen 100% had that option been available. But, I have taken only two tests and they were both for specific jobs. I passed both, got both jobs, and got repeat work and recommendations from both clients.

Am I alone, or do most translators frequently get these requests for test translations? I suppose some of them are part of an application to work with an agency. I've worked with three agencies; two are far more interested in speedy turnover than in quality, and they didn't ask me to do a test. The other is run by one of my former professors who knew my work well before inviting me to work for her.


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 18:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
Tests are (say) ok... Jul 25, 2006

Reed D. James wrote:

I have no qualms about doing test translations, though I know that there is a big debate about whether or not translators should accept them. The only part I don't like about test translations is when they are long and take time away from my workday.

Reed


If I am interested in a certain client and that client wants me to do a test, I will certainly do it.

However, let's remember that a translator's performance is not only measured in terms of linguistic qualities.

As an outsourcer, I was surprised a couple of times by very good translators who don't deliver on time or don't follow important guidelines. Those 'attitudes' are not evident when all you do is prove your linguistic skills in a test, and they certainly count! (That is why I would never trust translation tests 100%)

A few of my tests became clients; my best clients have asked me to work for them without asking me to do a test, though.

Au


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:30
Not all tests are equal... so choose your tests! Jul 25, 2006

I have also completed a few tests, and almost all have resulted in jobs (the few cases that did not resulted in jobs had to do with the rate, not with the test).

I also have no inconvenient in completing a test, if it is reasonable. What is reasonable? No more than 300-350 words, no rush deadline, possibility of receiving payment if my translation is accepted, etc.

On the other hand, I have been approached a few times to complete 800-1000 word "tests" with rush deadlines, and absolutely no additional information from the agency (rate per word, payment method, etc). In such cases, I do not even bother reading the source text.

And last but not least, as Au, and other colleagues pointed out, the test only allows you partial knowledge of the translator. An excellent test might be overshadowed by a translator who does not deliver in time, does not follow instructions, is hard to reach or difficult to work with. But experienced outsourcers know all this!

[Edited at 2006-07-25 18:10]


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Andres & Leticia Enjuto  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 18:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Same for us... Jul 25, 2006

Aurora Humarán wrote:

A few of my tests became clients; my best clients have asked me to work for them without asking me to do a test, though.



This is our main experience... outsourcers coming out of the blue, sending us interesting jobs repeatedly!

But we've also done many tests, and got only three jobs out of them, so we voted 0-10%.

Andres & Leticia

[Edited at 2006-07-25 18:13]


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Alicia Casal  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 18:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Maybe / Free Tests Jul 25, 2006

We could draw a draft about "translators test rules".

If I make any mistake, just be patient. My dog s rather sick..and he s old...

Some common rules like:

-no more than 300 words
- Feedback withing a reasonable time

etc etc etc.


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Rebekka Groß  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:30
English to German
Been there, done that... Jul 25, 2006

...got the work as a result sometimes and other times did not.

I've done my fair share of test translations (all in my field of expertise) over the years (13 years+ as a freelancer) and some resulted in regular work for years (especially when I first started out), others were a complete waste of time and it wasn't until I read the ProZ forums I realised that many of the test translations I did were absolutely massive (between 1000 and 2000 words).

Here are two examples of my most recent experiences:

1. At the beginning of the year, a friend and fellow freelancer recommended I try and approach a company she has been working for for about 3-4 years and for whom she was working on a huge project that was supposed to run well into spring. My friend first asked the PM if she was interested and needed more freelancers on the project, which led to my sending my CV and doing a paid (!) test translation of about 3500 words of actual files from the project to see if I could cope with the subject matter. I passed and have now worked for this company on two consecutive projects for six months with a new project starting next week immediately after my 1-week break.

2. About a month ago, I was contacted by a company I used to do a lot of work for after completing a rather large test translation about 10 years ago. For the last couple of years, however, they have not contacted me for work. As I said, abut a month ago, one of the vendor management staff sent me an e-mail asking whether I had expertise in a certain area and if I was interested in doing a test translation for them and if so, could I send my CV. She obviously had not checked their database which contained all the information she needed and a CV from earlier this year. When I pointed this out, she apologised and said she'd send me the test that afternoon. I replied: "Great, but please note that I only do free test translations up to a maximum of 500 words", and guess what, I never heard from her again. Interestingly, speaking to my friend from example 1 above, she reminded me that she did a large (1500-2000 word) test for precisely that company about 3 years ago after I suggested she contacted them, and that apart from being informed that she'd passed the test, she never heard from them again. Some companies are "test translation vampires", I think. They get as many test translations done as they possibly can, to what end though, I really don't know as most people's details seem languish in the database.

Nowadays, I still do test translations because I'm an optimist but I don't do more than 500 words and still only in my field of expertise. If an agency does not accept that, I say thanks but no thanks.

The reason I still do test translations? Well, I liken our job to that of an actor who still has to audition for a new role no matter how famous they are.

Happy translating, everyone, and stay cool in this heat because even Scotland has been hit by a heat wave so just as well I'm off this week

Rebekka



[Edited at 2006-07-26 09:46]


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