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Why do my quotes get declined?
Thread poster: Paul Dixon

Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:50
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Jul 30, 2012

I have always wondered why my quotes sometimes get declined. This morning I submitted a quote for a job at the price indicated by the client (well below my usual rate) but even so it got declined. Could it be that someone made a cheaper quote, or what?

 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:50
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yep Jul 30, 2012

My guess is that one of the following two things happened:

1.
Someone else agreed to do the job for the budgeted price, and responded earlier than you (and/or were thought by the poster to have better qualifications than you).

2.
Someone else agreed to do the job for an even lower price than you.

In the end, I will repeat what has been said more than a thousand times in these forums, and what I myself have found through personal experience:

If you are in a position where you are relying on proz.com jobs postings for work, then you are in serious trouble and need to re-evaluate your business strategy and/or perhaps consider generating income from alternative sources.

Why?

Because it has become painfully evident over a period of years that the "proz.com Jobs system" functions almost exclusively as a bargain basement brokerage where low-paying outsourcers and desperate translators willing to work for peanuts can find each other.

There may be some less common language pairs for which this is not true, but it certainly appears to be the case for combinations like yours and mine.


 

Daniel Grau  Identity Verified
Argentina
English to Spanish
Robert is right Jul 31, 2012

Price seems to be all that matters here. That's why I seldom respond to job offers, excepting those that require certain specializations. Nevertheless, note that job offers are sadly lacking in requirements and a large portion only request that the bidder be "a native speaker and a freelancer." If a job auction has already been answered by more than five bidders, I don't even read the job post. And in my language pair, by the time I get around to read it, most auctions have already been answered by tens of candidates.

In my four years as a paying ProZ member, I only acquired one client through ProZ—and they contacted me.

About half of my current clients came through my ATA page, while the other half were word-of-mouth references from colleagues. I've never had any success contacting potential clients through their web pages.

[Edited at 2012-07-31 09:51 GMT]


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:50
French to English
+ ...
See it as winning *clients*, not jobs... and see it from the client's point of view... Jul 31, 2012

This comes up a few times, and I've made similar comments before.

The thing you have to remember is that for a typical job, an outsourcer will receive anything between 20 and 50 candidates, and possibly more.

So... there's often quite a narrow "Goldilocks zone" within which you must fit in terms of price, expertise, experience, deadline/availability in order to be picked as the most suitable candidate. I certainly wouldn't bother sending 'serial applications' for every single job under the sun: restrict your energies to those one or two jobs where you genuinely think you have a chance of being the most suitable candidate out of the 100 "serious contenders" that will receive the job notification.

So winning a job on ProZ will per se be a relatively rare event. You shouldn't tihnk that you're going to land a stream of independent jobs from ProZ.

However, you should see the system as winning you occasional *clients* rather than individual jobs. I could probably count on my fingers the small number of jobs that I've got from ProZ... but pretty much every one of these has then gone on to the client putting further work my way and it's been well worth the subscription fee.

So I am one of those that would defend the job system... when used judiciously.

[Edited at 2012-07-31 02:13 GMT]


 

Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:50
Member
English to German
Have you already attended one of the webinars? Jul 31, 2012

Paul Dixon wrote:

I have always wondered why my quotes sometimes get declined.


Have you already attended one of the below listed webinars?

1) Meeting clients at ProZ (http://www.proz.com/translator-training/course/7042-meeting_clients_at_prozcom)

2) Getting started in translation (http://www.proz.com/translator-training/course/7051-getting_started_in_translation)

They are free and could possibly help you!

icon_smile.gif


 
because... Jul 31, 2012

it's all about statistics

there is one job and 50 candidates.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:50
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Why do you expect to win them all? Jul 31, 2012

After all, there can only be one winner, so if 30 people apply you statistically have a 1 in 30 chance of getting it. Those aren't brilliant odds, are they?

Of course, some of those 30 will be quotes that obviously aren't serious translators, or with crazily low or crazily high rates, or nothing filled in in their profile. But there are likely to be 5-10 who all quote "normal" rates, have good profiles, etc. So you still only have a 1 in 5-10 chance of getting the job. Better odds, but still not a done deal. The poster will then have to decide who to award the job to, based on small differences. I've already said I think your profile is good (so please don't take the following as any criticsm) but MAYBE you could be losing out on a specific job for any one of the following reasons:
- you have 2 native languages: maybe they are looking for a wizard in the target language and think you have "watered down" target language skills
- you may be in a different time zone to the poster: that could make communication difficult
- your calendar is 100% green. Why? Don't you have any other clients? (this is the poster speaking, remember, not me):-)
- you have rather elevated hourly rates. Maybe this means you expect to translate very fast and not research terms
- you don't come over as a great user of technology (just Word and Excel - like me), no CAT tool
- your profile isn't 100% complete: no feedback, no "PRO" tag, no credentials, no memberships; maybe other quoters have all these boxes completed. These are all important things to have - some show ability, others reliability. With none of them, all they have is your word for it that you can do it and you'll do a good job for them
- maybe they simply didn't find the quote written in an appealing way: too informal, too formal, too long, too short...

Finally, one thing that I suspect may be counting against you, if I may presume to criticise: you have a CV that needs to be read, not scanned. It's virtually impossible to find anything in it in just a few seconds (which is all any outsourcer would be prepared to spend). What you can actually do (your specialisations and experience in them) is down at the bottom of the page and the client has already had to plough through your GCE passes and your typing skills before s/he gets there. I do think that the CV might be a major decision factor here.

But on the whole, I think you are simply expecting too much. Of course, some jobs will go to the lowest bidder, but not all. I've had some very good clients from the job board over the years, who have happily paid my rates. But I can count them on the fingers of one hand. Probably 80% of my bids go into the ether - but that seems normal to me. Most of my clients come from other means: they contact me through my profile or other translators recommend me, or they come from outside ProZ.com.

Sheila

I just re-read this and I've realised I hadn't said your profile was good (before saying I'd already said it, that is)! I must have been thinking instead of typing!icon_wink.gif

[Edited at 2012-07-31 08:39 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:50
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Never Jul 31, 2012

Robert Forstag wrote:

.... it has become painfully evident over a period of years that the "proz.com Jobs system" functions almost exclusively as a bargain basement brokerage where low-paying outsourcers and desperate translators willing to work for peanuts can find each other.



I agree. I have never, ever, had a quote accepted using this system, and I don't expect that I ever will.


 

Miriam Neidhardt  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:50
English to German
+ ...
Perhaps... Jul 31, 2012

... someone got the job who is better qualified? Has better references? Wrote a better application text? Offered a more reasonable (i. e. higher) rate? Has a better profile? A better photograph? A better website?

It's not all about the price!

Just my 2 cents.

Greetings from Finland,

Miriam

www. überleben-als-übersetzer.de

[Edited at 2012-07-31 08:50 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yep Jul 31, 2012

Robert Forstag wrote:

My guess is that one of the following two things happened:

1.
Someone else agreed to do the job for the budgeted price, and responded earlier than you (and/or were thought by the poster to have better qualifications than you).

2.
Someone else agreed to do the job for an even lower price than you.

In the end, I will repeat what has been said more than a thousand times in these forums, and what I myself have found through personal experience:

If you are in a position where you are relying on proz.com jobs postings for work, then you are in serious trouble and need to re-evaluate your business strategy and/or perhaps consider generating income from alternative sources.

Why?

Because it has become painfully evident over a period of years that the "proz.com Jobs system" functions almost exclusively as a bargain basement brokerage where low-paying outsourcers and desperate translators willing to work for peanuts can find each other.

There may be some less common language pairs for which this is not true, but it certainly appears to be the case for combinations like yours and mine.


No free lunches here. Especially when the posters are intermediaries. I decided long ago that the best way to avoid disappointment is to find direct clients, although it's easier said than done...


 

JaneD  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:50
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Better photo? Jul 31, 2012

Also, unless you really are the proud trainspotter your current photo makes you appear, you need to get a more professional profile photo. This may have nothing to do with why your quotes aren't being accepted (as others have said, the success rate is likely to be fairly low even if you do everything right), but when you are competing against umpteen others for a project, if you give a client *any* reason to reject you, they will.

(I should say that several of my relatives *are* trainspotters, and there's nothing wrong with that as such - it just may not give the professional image you are presumably aiming for!)

Jane


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:50
Member (2008)
Italian to English
What about Neilmac then? Jul 31, 2012

JaneD wrote:

..... you need to get a more professional profile photo.


Neilmac- is that really what you look like?

icon_smile.gif


 

Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:50
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jul 31, 2012

Thank you for all the replies that have come in so far, this was very much appreciated. I particularly liked Sheila's detailed explanation, given me a lot to think about. Some comments:
Calendar 100% green - This is because I am always available for additional work. Of course I reduce availability when I have other commitments (such as the ProZ conference, for example). I do have other clients, locally based.
Technology - I have taken three courses in Trados and never really understood it; one course in WordFast and things were much clearer. However, technology is expensive and I prefer to work without CAT tools (not only because of the cost, but because work seems to flow better. I have done some inhouse work in Trados in the past - with supervision - and it took much longer). I'm looking forward to the MemoQ tutorial at the forthcoming ProZ Brazilian Conference, as people have said a lot of good things about MemoQ. (The Conference is between 21 and 23 September, in case you're interested)
Credentials - I planned to take the IoL exam last year but the cost put me off.
CV - You mention that my "CV needs to be read, not scanned". Are you suggesting that I should put my specialisations and skills at the top of the CV? Yes, I could adapt the CV, it was originally done by a headhunter in the UK but for a different type of work.
I also stress that ProZ is not my only source of work, it's just that I wondered why I had a couple of rejections of quotes. My work is mostly locally based.
Thank you once again, any additional comments shall be welcome.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:50
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Answer their questions - don't give them your life story Jul 31, 2012

Paul Dixon wrote:
CV - You mention that my "CV needs to be read, not scanned". Are you suggesting that I should put my specialisations and skills at the top of the CV? Yes, I could adapt the CV, it was originally done by a headhunter in the UK but for a different type of work.

Yes, I'm saying that clients don't want to sit down with a cup of coffee with your CV and read it from top to bottom. They have very clear requirements because they've got a specific job that needs doing. They need immediate information to help them answer the question "Is Paul Dixon the man for this job?".

If you were an outsourcer, what would you need to know?
1) language pair(s)
2) specialisations
3) experience (to back up the first two)
4) qualifications (unless (3) is impressive enough on its own)
5) maybe answers to a couple of specific questions about skills and abilities

So, forget everything else - simply delete most if not all of it from your CV. Some things are just so obvious they don't need saying e.g. the fact that you can type quickly. Actually, seeing as you will be quoting per word, it won't matter to the client if you type one-fingered all night long, as long as the translation is ready on time and is neat and tidy.icon_smile.gif Organise what's left so that the most important information is the most visible (i.e. nearer the top). There's actually a Wiki article here about writing a CV specific to freelance translating. You can find it here: http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Creating_an_effective_CV_/_resume

As far as the other points I raised are concerned, I was sure you had reasons for them (green calendar etc) - I was just looking at it all from the point of view of an outsourcer who not only wants a capable translator but who also has to make a choice between several apparently capable translators.

Sheila


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:50
French to English
+ ...
Agree with Sheila about CV Jul 31, 2012

Agree with Sheila's last post: your CV is unusable as it stands. I think you need to:

- cut out information that nobody will possibly care about for the purposes of translation (who cares about your date of birth or the colour of your passport? who will ever possibly care what middle school you went to? why would they care what city you were born in, unless you're making a claim about it that's directly related to translation?)
- put the relevant information that is left into clear, concise bullet points rather than rambly paragraphs
- be more specific about the things that actually matter: you very vaguely mention having "translated texts" in various fields, but I would try and be more specific about some actual projects you've worked on recently. You obviously don't need to-- and IMO shouldn't-- give away confidential information like client or document names, but something like "patient leaflets for a health authority" or "patient notes for several hospitals" or whatever is better than just saying "medical".

Having a CV that witters on about dates of birth and middle schools and GCEs is OK when you're 15 and trying to get your first paper round, but clear concise points about work experience are more important for a professional CV.


 
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