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Use by agency of translator CVs in bidding for tenders
Thread poster: Neil Coffey

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:28
French to English
+ ...
Nov 11, 2010

I received an e-mail from an agency saying they were putting together a bid for a tender for a translation project and that if I was interested I should reply with my CV. Since they don't seem to have an actual job available yet, the implication seems to be that they want to use translators' CVs as part of their bid. I've vaguely heard about this practice before (I work mainly with direct clients), but wondered if colleagues consider this to be standard, acceptable practice, and how cautious I should be about sending my CV to such an agency?

 

Lucy Brooks  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:28
German to English
+ ...
CVs for use in bids Nov 11, 2010

I've certainly come across this practice with agencies with whom I already work, who happen to be bidding in the current round of EU tenders.

I've never been asked to provide a CV for this purpose for a new agency, but of course, it's routine to send one's CV to prospective new clients anyway, so they must hold hundreds of such documents.

Perhaps this agency is looking for new translators with different aeas of experience for the job they wish to bid for. I wouldn't be too suspicious of their motives, which are probably quite legitimate.


[Edited at 2010-11-11 10:21 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:28
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
OK! But... Nov 11, 2010

I would say that you will be happy to supply your CV, but only if they send you a letter signed by one of their officials stating that, should the job finally be assigned to them, they guarantee that you will get the work.

Indeed some agencies use the CVs of top translators to get the job and then give the work at laughable rates to run-of-the-mill translators. If they guarantee and sign that they will give you the work, I think it should be OK to give them the CV.

Good luck!


 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:28
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
same here Nov 11, 2010

it happens agencies collect CVs for reference in tenders, but there is no guarantee you will see any of the work.

First step is to check whether they can afford your rates at all - why should you invest time into something that will only benefit the agency? (or help them win a tender with highly qualified CVs, while in the end they will just outsource the work to the first person who offers 0,02 euro / source word).

I've not heard anything about agencies signing a contact to confirm you will get any part of the work, should they win a tender - but who knows...

Ed


 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:28
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Boilerplate reply Nov 11, 2010

Here is a reply I recently sent to a similar request from an agency that I had never worked with before. I will probably reuse it as a boilerplate in the future.

Dear XXX,

I have participated in similar tender applications in the past years, spending hours with preparing the requested materials, just to allow outsourcers to showcase my skills and expertise in order to increase their chance to get such tenders. These efforts on my side never brought the desired result: either the agency was not awarded the tender, or they were but chose to work with other translators. I never got to know. It is therefore my policy to participate in such tenders only with established clients of mine, where the return on my invested time is expected to be much higher. (Another possibility would be charging tender applicants for the time I need to spend to help their application - but this would, most probably, be either a lose-lose or a lose-win combination.)

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.


In many cases, the agency is probably required to include several translators working into the same language, so Tomás's suggestion about a letter stating that they would give you the work in case they win the tender does not sound practically feasible to me. In general, I try to avoid any "if ... then" scenarios and treat each request independently. No room for broken promises = no room for hard feelings.

Best,
Attila


 

Susan van den Ende  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:28
English to Dutch
+ ...
No guarantees, worth a try. Nov 11, 2010

As an agency, you're usually required to supply a couple of CVs (exact numbers vary) for EU tenders, as you are also required to provide continuity. We just submitted a set for a tender and wouldn't consider working with someone else just because they are cheaper. Bidding involves a lot of work for an agency; I cannot imagine too many agencies would want to jeopardize the flow of work that comes from a successful bid by taking risks working with the first person who offers 0,02 p/w.

Of course there is no guarantee whatsoever that you will eventually get the work that might result from a successful tender, but if the agency is indeed ok with your rates, it won't hurt to give it a try I'd say.


 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:28
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Question to Susan Nov 11, 2010

Great to see your input here, Susan. (It is always a pleasure to read your posts, as they show the approach of a conscientious professional on the outsourcers' side.)

My question is this: to what extent do you include totally new people (whose cv may read great but with whom you have never worked) in your tender bids?

Putting together a bid takes certainly quite a lot of time for an agency – could you give some specific details / a case study? It would be most instructive.

Best,
Attila


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
What have you got to lose? Nov 11, 2010

I don't think you should ask for a guarantee that you will get the work. Over the years we've helped many agencies win new clients by doing test translations or first translations, only to see subsequent jobs go to cheaper translators. The way I look at it, we've got paid for what we've done, what's the problem? That's just the way of the world. And if things do work out, you'll get a lot of new work - so what have you got to lose?
And anyway, how much time does it take to email someone your CV?


 

Susan van den Ende  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:28
English to Dutch
+ ...
New CV / time investment Nov 11, 2010

Hi Atilla,

In short: I'd only consider tried & tested people. There are less really good translators out there than you might expect: last time, one of them actually told us she'd already supplied her CV to a competitor for the exact same tender.

Details: in general (also drawing from experiences of colleagues) it depends on the requirements in the tender (number of language combinations) and on whether an agency partners with a larger LSP (often supplying one language combination out of many, the LSP then coordinates several agencies who in turn often work with freelancers) or bids independently.

Think lots of focus on paperwork in either scenario. CVs often need to have a specific layout, for instance.


 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:28
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
@ Chris S Nov 11, 2010

Chris S wrote:

I don't think you should ask for a guarantee that you will get the work. Over the years we've helped many agencies win new clients by doing test translations or first translations, only to see subsequent jobs go to cheaper translators. The way I look at it, we've got paid for what we've done, what's the problem? That's just the way of the world. And if things do work out, you'll get a lot of new work - so what have you got to lose?
And anyway, how much time does it take to email someone your CV?


It is much more than emailing a cv – emailing my degree and/or documents proving my experience of having translated 1500 pages in the given field. Plus quite a few forms.

Putting it together may easily take well over an hour. But obtaining that degree and/or experience took me years. They serve as a guarantee for the body who issued the tender. So, does it make business sense to tell anyone: "hey, here are my valuable qualifications, feel free to use them"? Not to me. I have a number of selected business partners whom I grant that privilege.

Best,
Attila


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:28
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Is it a problem? Nov 11, 2010

Neil Coffey wrote:
I received an e-mail from an agency saying they were putting together a bid for a tender for a translation project and that if I was interested I should reply with my CV. Since they don't seem to have an actual job available yet, the implication seems to be that they want to use translators' CVs as part of their bid. I've vaguely heard about this practice before (I work mainly with direct clients), but wondered if colleagues consider this to be standard, acceptable practice, and how cautious I should be about sending my CV to such an agency?


I come across it every now and then, mostly from existing clients of mine. I have no problem with this. The agency sometimes asks me to revise my CV to reflect a certain type of speciality, which I'm happy to do, if it doesn't take a lot of time to do it.

There is no guarantee that the agency will use you when they win the contract. Of course, not doing so would be fraud (because submitting CVs is part of the end-client's quality control procedures), so ask yourself if you trust the agency not to participate in fraudulent activities.

If you trust a new agency so much that you're willing to do a job for them without receiving payment in advance, why shouldn't you be able to trust them enough to give you the job when they win the contract using your CV?


 

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:28
Flemish to English
+ ...
Why agencies? Nov 11, 2010

With regard to such tenders:
If you go through the lists of those awarded the tenders, you'll notice names of mostly agencies, but also of freelancers with the right qualifications and experience. Both are treated on the same footage. Why shouldn't you give it a try to bid as a freelancer for a small part of the tender.
If I remember well for medical texts, the requirements were a degree in translation and proof of 1500 pages as a translator of medical texts or a degree of M.D. and proof of 500 or was it 1000 pages of translated texts in the field of medicine.


[Edited at 2010-11-11 14:46 GMT]


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
. Nov 11, 2010

I think the whole emphasis on CVs is ridiculous in this profession, and in the age of the internet. CVs don't tell you anything worth knowing.

If I were an outsourcer, the only thing I'd be interested in would be sample translations to find out whether people were any good.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:28
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It is not just sending a CV Nov 11, 2010

Chris S wrote:
I don't think you should ask for a guarantee that you will get the work. Over the years we've helped many agencies win new clients by doing test translations or first translations, only to see subsequent jobs go to cheaper translators. The way I look at it, we've got paid for what we've done, what's the problem? That's just the way of the world. And if things do work out, you'll get a lot of new work - so what have you got to lose?

I have had several European bids in which my CV was part of the process. In one case, the company won the bid and sent a very reassuring email stating that work would start to flow in... but nothing happened. When asked, they insisted that work would flow in very soon... and it never happened.

So I spent time analysing and negotiating the conditions of the job, carefully reading and signing lots of paperwork (also printing it and mailing it), preparing my CV, and reading and writing well over 20 emails... for nothing despite all the nice words from the agency. In total, I think I must have spent some 5-6 hours "working" for this customer for free. And that is lost time. That is what we got to lose!!

So I think some written guarantee is really necessary before spending too much time in these bids.


 

Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:28
English
+ ...
To see what's involved, Nov 13, 2010

Attila Piróth wrote:

Putting together a bid takes certainly quite a lot of time for an agency – could you give some specific details / a case study? It would be most instructive.



take a look at one of these EU tenders: http://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:203561-2010:TEXT:EN:HTML

Note under 8.2.3: Candidates must provide the CVs of all staff (internal or external, including staff from members and subcontractors) who will be involved in carrying out the work specified under point 4, as well as signed declarations that they are prepared to accept editing jobs under this procedure.

And see the checklist, no. 13.

[Edited at 2010-11-13 14:06 GMT]


 
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