Five Steps to Make your Freelance Translator CV Stand Out

During the last three months, I have reviewed hundreds of CVs (or resumes) from freelance translators for a new language group we are targeting at our translation agency, TranslationPartner. Some CVs caught my attention, and others were rejected within 10-20 seconds. To help you out, I have written down some of my notes about why some translators’ CVs were shortlisted and others were not. It is my hope that this will help you to design your resume better for the next time you are introducing yourself to potential clients. Note that I will use “CV” and “resume” interchangeably in this context, but you can find more information on the difference between these documents here.

  1. Use direct language

There is limited time to check each CV when the person receiving your file has a stack of them a mile high, so important information should be introduced as early as possible. Superfluous sentences such as “I am the best translator in…” are a waste of time for the reader, and if a sentence like this is at the beginning of your curriculum vitae, it is likely to be one of those that gets rejected within 10-20 seconds. When writing your CV, ensure that the language you use is direct and clear. Each sentence should provide a new piece of information. Stay away from flowery language and remember that you only have a few seconds to convince the recipient that they should keep reading.

  1. Numbers and figures make your resume more reliable

Always use numbers to support your experience; these will show that you are qualified and may be of value to the potential client. For example, you can use numbers to show your years of experience, your interpretation hours, specific course hours or the word counts/number of hours for key projects you have completed with current or previous clients. If you do not have exact numbers, just give approximate ones. Numbers will make your CV seem more trustworthy and show the reader that you are reliable.

  1. Organize it properly

I was surprised to see dozens of CVs written as a group of paragraphs without sections, titles, subtitles, or bullets. Make your document easy to scan—the person who reads your resume is going to be looking for certain information and must be able to find it quickly. Use section titles or subtitles to indicate what information is found where. Under each title, you can use bullets to indicate details, but I do not recommend more than five bullets per title/subtitle.

For example, you may want to add a subtitle for your translation achievements, where you mention your most important projects with their estimated word counts. Also, include your address, contact info, and education in sub-sections and organize them properly so the person who reads the CV can find them easily.

  1. Keep it short and condense information

You CV is usually the first step in the recruitment process with a potential client, so it is not necessary to include all possible information (a one or two-page document is enough). In particular, you do not need to add all your certificates and work history in the resume. Just write the information that your potential client needs; i.e., if you are applying to a translation agency, there is no need to mention your background as a language teacher. If you wish, you can add a section in your cover letter or at the end of the CV mentioning that other information can be provided upon request, such as references or additional work history. Using bullets is one of my favorite organization tips. I use bullets when I write my curriculum vitae, emails, project summaries, and many other documents. These bullets do not have to contain full sentences, just a phrase to show your point.

  1. No spelling or grammar errors

Why would I trust you to complete an upcoming translation project for my company if you have not performed the most basic quality check on your own CV—checking for spelling and grammar? Some translators just rush through their resumes in an effort to win the project bid quickly, without checking their writing on the CV and cover letter they send to the job poster. Be sure to reread your document before sending it, and don’t forget to run the automatic spellcheck function of your word processing software.

Conclusion

Keep in mind the perspective of your reader when writing a CV or resume. In conclusion, you should only include relevant information, keep it organized, and just get to the point!

Image credit: pixabay

Author bio

Sherif Abuzid is an English to Arabic native translator and Key Accounts Manager at TranslationPartner, a translation agency. He translates to Arabic and manages projects in African and Middle Eastern languages. Sherif studied English and Translation at the Faculty of Arts in Egypt and Sales and Marketing at the American University in Cairo, and holds a MBA in International Business Administration from The Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport. His translation agency website is http://www.translationpartner.com/. The company translates medical, technical, and software documents into Arabic, Middle Eastern, and African languages.

Why Pairing up Is a Good Idea, Especially for Freelance Translators!

“I’m a freelancer, so other freelancers are my competitors. Especially in my language pair. I should avoid them at all cost!”

As a small business owner (because that’s what you are as a freelancer!), it’s very easy to fall into this trap. It does make sense, doesn’t it? Professionals who offer exactly the same services as you are direct competitors who could steal your clients and ruin your livelihood. You need to be better, cheaper or faster than them so that you can beat them.

Well, think again. If there’s one thing we can glean from the history of mankind, it’s that human effort yields the best results when driven by collaboration. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day—nor was it built by one guy with a hammer and some nails. Where would giants like Apple and Google be if those tech-savvy programmers would have isolated themselves back in the day? They’d probably still be coding line after line in a basement or garage, eager to figure it all out by themselves.

I believe not isolated diligence, but open collaboration is the key to long-lasting success. This very much applies to translation too, though it does require that translators adopt a less paranoid and more collaborative attitude. Even if you don’t actually like other translators, the benefits of working together are such that it makes little sense to stick your head in the sand.

Before we continue, I have a confession to make. I’m a freelance translator and so is my partner, Lineke. We’ve been running our translation business together for three years now and we’ve been swamped with work right off the bat. Since we’re partners in real life, we live in the same house. That makes collaborating extremely easy—if I have a question for Lineke, I can simply walk up to her office and ask her straight away. I don’t need to send an email or call her.

Still, I’ve taken part in other forms of freelance collaboration and the results have always been fantastic. I’m happy, whoever I collaborate with is happy and, most importantly, the client is happy. The best business is blissful business.

Now, let’s move on to why freelancing should not be a permanent solo effort.

It Takes Two to Tango, Right? Well, It Takes Two to Translate as Well

Everyone in the translation business knows that a proper translation requires not one, but at the very least two pairs of eyes. The translation needs to be edited, and usually there’s a round of QA to mop up any blemishes that passed through the translation and editing phase unscathed.

If you pair up with another freelancer and become a translator/editor duo, you’ll be in a position to produce very high quality without having to rely on anyone else. In fact, once you pinpoint each other’s strengths and weaknesses, you’ll know exactly what to look out for, meaning you’ll spend less time on perfecting the copy than you would when you’d edit a translation done by God-knows-who. That’s not only good for your client, but for your hourly income as well, as your productivity grows while the collaboration lasts.

Two Translators Have Higher Capacity Than a Lone Wolf

Let’s assume business has picked up lately and you’re finding yourself with plenty of work on your plate. Suddenly, a very enticing offer comes in: a big, fat, juicy job for which you’ll be able to charge a hefty rush fee. Alas, you have to decline the offer since your one-man company is running at full speed. No can do.

Guess what? If you have a fellow translator to fall back on, you’ll still be able to take on that job, including that chunky rush fee. You can simply switch around your standard roles and have the editor translate the copy, with you taking care of the editing once the storm in your inbox has calmed. You’ll avert disaster, make more money and you’ll have a happy customer. It’s a win-win!

Before you worry about margins and rates: since you know each other well and function like a well-oiled machine, you can be completely transparent about the financial side of things. This is what Lineke and I like to do. We sometimes choose to work with a fellow translator because we’re both fully booked and we’ll always tell them: this and that is the maximum rate I can afford—is this acceptable for you? No need for awkward negotiating and hard-core haggling, since we’re not looking to make a big profit on the professionals who help us serve our customers well. In fact, we’re looking to enrich them as much as we can! It’s a whole different kind of dynamic—one that is in favor of the translator.

A One-Trick Pony Is Nice, but a Multi-Trick Horse Is Definitely Better

So, you’re very good at translating marketing, for instance, but your client needs help with the terms and conditions for their promotion. What will you do now? Decline, and risk sending the client into the arms of some random business they found on the internet, or accept, knowing you’ll have to struggle all night through unbridled legalese? Neither option sounds all that great, do they?

This scenario actually happened to us. Lineke and I both aren’t very keen on legal copy, but luckily, one of our fellow translators happens to excel at it. We sent the copy his way, edit it ourselves and poof—we managed to expand our business portfolio without inflicting frustration on ourselves. Not bad, right?

Having a broader range of services than what you can offer all by yourself makes you a more well-rounded business partner. Good clients hardly ever need one single service. They might require translation one day, and copywriting or DTP the next. For instance, we have clients who sometimes need Flemish versions of our Dutch copy. We don’t tell them “Well, good luck with that, because we cannot do that”. No—we have a contact for Flemish who is happy to edit our copy so that our work sounds good in Flemish, too. This saves our client quite a headache!

That’s the first three major benefits of collaboration for translators. There’s more to it though: the second part is coming soon.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your views on translation collaboration. Is it a feasible option for you? Or perhaps you already have your own unique form of collaboration in place to tell of? I’m eager to hear your thoughts and experiences!

Image credit: pixabay

Author bio

A native speaker of Dutch, Branco van der Werf runs his two-man translation company with his partner, Lineke van Straalen. His language pairs are English-Dutch and German-Dutch. He graduated from the School for Translation and Interpreting in the Netherlands in 2014 and has since specialized in marketing translation, transcreation and copywriting. His creative translations regularly appear in TV commercials, brand assets and digital spaces. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

When translation clients ask for favors

Here’s a situation we’ve all probably encountered: clients asking for favors. “Any chance you could quickly translate 25 words?” “Do you have time to look over a couple of sentences in a source document in your language?” “You’re so great with this piece of software; any chance you could take a quick look at a problem we’re having?”

A client favor can be one of two things:
-An opportunity to solidify the relationship with a client you love
-A source of resentment when the favor spirals out of control, or the client abuses your generosity

Let’s take a look at how to handle client-requested favors.

Tip 1: If the client is a valued one, and pays well and on time, just do the favor. Don’t charge for it, and don’t make a big deal about not charging for it. Just say, “This only took a few minutes; no need to invoice for it.” It’s like giving your boss a ride home when their car is in the shop; it’s an investment in the relationship and in workplace harmony. This is the tactic I take with most of my direct clients. I even offer them free favors, in the sense that if a project is truly tiny—something that takes half an hour or less—I don’t charge for it at all. Personally I would rather charge a higher rate overall than nickel-and-dime the client over 15 minutes of work. Sometimes I will note the item on an invoice, and put “Courtesy” instead of listing a charge (i.e. “Mailing hard copies of documents: courtesy”), but that’s as big a deal as I make out of it.

Tip 2: It’s also fine to charge for everything. You’re in this business to make a living. Do not ever (ever) feel guilty about charging a client for your time. After all, they’re probably not calling in favor jobs from their attorney, or asking their plumber to come unclog a drain without charging. Charging for everything also makes it clear what is billable and what is not, because everything the client sends you is billable. The key is to remain cheerful and polite while making it clear that you’re going to charge for the quick look at their TM bug. “I’d be happy to take a look; if it’s something I can figure out, I’ll just invoice you at my regular hourly rate after it’s done. Let me know if you’d like me to go ahead with it.”

Tip 3: Keep ethics and optics in mind. At least several times a year, direct clients ask me to work on projects that are peripherally related to their jobs. “Could you edit the blog post I wrote in English about this workshop I attended?” “I’d like to create business cards in English, could you help me?” and things like that. Often, they’ll hint—or just come out and say—that they’d like a discount on my regular rates. I’d usually be happy to do these jobs for free, but some clients are prohibited from accepting those kinds of favors from outside contractors.

If that happens, you need to respect the client’s situation, but it’s also not ideal to show the client that you’re willing to work at a great discount. When that happens, my solution is to propose a lump sum that is a lot lower than my regular rate, without explicitly saying, “I’ll do it for half of my regular rate.” This is a subtle distinction, but I think that the optics matter; rather than explicitly offering a 50% discount, you’re proposing an “honorarium” that the client can accept without crossing any ethics lines.

Tip 4: Beware of habitual favor-askers. Favors are a great way to cement a relationship with a valued client. But they can become a major pain if the same client asks over and over again for a half hour of free work here and there. Additionally, if the client is an agency, they are most likely charging the end client for the work that you’re doing for free. So, if a client (direct client or agency) crosses the line into abusing your generosity, proceed to Tip 2. The next time they ask, politely but clearly respond that you’d be happy to do this task, at your regular rate. Leave the emotions out of it. Don’t point out that you’ve done three small jobs for free during the past month. Just make it clear that from now on, favors are billable.

Header image credit: Picjumbo

Author bio

Corinne McKay, CT, is an ATA-certified French to English translator and the current ATA President-elect. She specializes in international development, corporate communications, and non-fiction book translation. She is also passionate about helping beginning and established translators launch, run, and grow successful freelance businesses. Her book, How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator, has become a go-to reference for the industry with over 10,000 copies in print, and her blog, Thoughts on Translation, has been a lively gathering place for freelance translators since 2008. You can keep in touch with Corinne on Twitter @corinnemckay, or on LinkedIn.

How to get into transcreation

How to get into transcreation The transcreation <> copywriting exchange

Transcreators are often copywriters too. Therefore, if you are a translator hoping to get into transcreation, it’s a good idea to sharpen your sword in the field of copywriting itself.

Copywriting is something that requires practice, a knack for understanding products and/or markets, and good writing skills. A good writer from any field within the humanities, or any field at all, can break into copywriting without delay. You can literally get an entry-level freelancing job tomorrow and start cutting your chops.

Find a way to practice professionally

So you think you are a good writer and want to break into copywriting immediately, so you can become a better transcreator? There’s just one problem: you’ve never written copy.

The good news is that the person hiring you, unlike in translation, can actually teach you and provide valuable feedback on your work. This is why copywriting is something you can break into right away: if you can get past the typical writing test given during the freelance interview process, you will often find that the client is willing to teach you what you need to know.

What many marketers want is a talented, ambitious writer that they can develop. I got my career started as a technical writer with Lionbridge/HP doing just that, and have been on the teaching end of the equation several times.

Here’s a little secret: everyone in online marketing is learning how to do their jobs by reading the top marketing blogs, because things change so quickly anyway. If you’re a good writer, you can probably arm yourself for an entry level job with a few tips for writing good copy or the difference between features and benefits, along with whatever experience you already have in translation.

Copywriters themselves are constantly re-reading these tips while they are writing. 😉

Where to find copywriting work

Linkedin, Twitter, or other social platforms are great for working on your copywriting business, but often require lots of time and effort (which you should definitely put in).

Freelancer sites like Upwork, Elance, and others have a bad reputation with translators. The customers there know very little about translation and do not know what to expect, and they often get “sticker shock” when they realize how expensive professional translation can be.

But these sites are often great for copywriters, writers, technical writers, and designers. If you don’t believe me, Lise Cartwright has an excellent article about launching your career as a freelance writer on outsourcing sites.

My business partner has built a successful design business with Upwork customers. I myself am reviewing copywriting proposals for Zingword, because where else am I going to find a freelance copywriter? Most of the proposals are from 30-55 euros per hour. My wife manages the design and production of marketing materials, websites, and apps for national theaters, opera houses, and more, for a company whose operations run entirely through Upwork, and whose founder criss-crosses the globe.

A cursory review of copywriters from peopleperhour.com gives you a good idea of what copywriters can fetch. As a newbie, you’ll probably want to charge less than people who have lots of experience, but enough to be satisfied (depending on where you live).

The type of position you are looking for is “copywriting” or “website content,” but avoid “article writing” since that’s not going to get you the experience you need, and is often on the low-end of the writing market. If the company or product is interesting to you, that’s usually a good sign.

Learning markets

People will usually offer training before you start. In fact, you should insist upon a solid “learning session” to go with ongoing feedback. Particularly, you’ll want to target customers who will take you under their wing. In this way, you’ll be able to learn on the job.

Nevertheless, use your judgment. Usually, if the buyer is looking for someone with tons of experience selling bicycles, they won’t hire you. But you should take some responsibility too, because you’ll have to dig deep into why this product is special and people should buy it.

Finally, having the customer be able to provide feedback is invaluable, as compared to translations where this is often not possible.

Learning mediums

As you gather experience, you’ll start to get into “mediums” of communications.

A good example is writing a newsletter in Mailchimp. Newsletters are still the most powerful marketing communications available today, even more powerful than social media, and they have their own idiosyncrasies in terms of copywriting. You can learn the nuances of writing newsletters by researching on the internet and through instructions from your client, but it will take some effort. The same goes for basic SEO (many clients have guidelines to help you).

Eat high quality word snacks

Recent studies show that novels change your brain structure. Any reader who has gone through an extended period of not reading understands this thoroughly; it doesn’t take long until your brain feels like it’s in the doldrums.

Writing great copy isn’t limited to copywriting experience; it also means reading both beautiful and commercial things, paying close attention to rhetorical strategies, word usage, and even prose. If you find yourself doing this already, then you’re probably going to do fine in copywriting.

Challenging myself in my reading has always worked for me. I recently read a best seller and loved it, but I’ve always relied on high quality word snacks to keep my tools sharp.

Punctuation—use it!

Sadly, elaborate punctuation is the sworn enemy of the modern business writer. Writing simply and directly is almost always a recipe for good copy, with flourishes here and there to suit your subject matter.

The semi-colon, for example, has disappeared, which isn’t exactly a new thing: the Google ngram viewer shows you statistics on word usage or punctuation usage over time, and the results for the semi-colon are pretty clear.

But even if sophisticated punctuation is out of style, any translator, copywriter, or transcreator should be able to fluidly employ punctuation at her will. Even if creative punctuation is avoided, it should only be avoided by choice and not by any particular limitations the copywriter or transcreator may have. Ideally, the only thing that limits your letters are the choices you make.

Surely, there will come a day when that em dash in your copy is going to blow somebody away, or that misused hyphen is going to look like the weak, miniature em dash that it really is.

Now, let’s count my grammatical mistakes while I take cover. 😛

Header image credit: kaboompics

Author bio

Robert Rogge - CEO of ZingwordRobert Rogge is CEO of Zingword for translations and a wannabe novelist. His half-finished novel carries the working title, The Prospect of Summer. So far, it has served to improve his copywriting skills while not advancing his literary ambitions in any way. He stops short of recommending that you write a novel to improve your copy.

Zingword helps translators feature themselves online, while also effectively marketing their translation services to prospective clients. We do encourage translators who are practicing transcreation to sign up at our special transcreation page, since our goal is to help you find jobs in your field.

How language professionals can reclaim their digital lives after Snowden

How language professionals can reclaim their digital lives after SnowdenOur private and professional lives happen increasingly online. However, we often compromise our privacy and put the integrity of data and information at risk. Public and private entities exploit that: invasive ads, tracking across websites, profiling, restrictive digital rights management, attacks on net neutrality, bulk data collection – the list goes on.

It is time for language professionals to reclaim control, especially when handling client data, which can be sensitive or even confidential. This hands-on talk provides practical solutions: from encrypted email and secure wi-fi on the go to safer passwords and having your files available and yet safe.

This session was presented at the American Translators Association’s 57th Annual Conference. Learn more about the conference at http://www.atanet.org/conf/2016 and more about ATA at http://www.atanet.org/.

Header image credit: MMT

Author bio

Alexander DrechselAlexander Drechsel has been a staff interpreter with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Interpretation since 2007. He has studied at universities in Germany, Romania and Russia and his working languages are German (A), English (B), French and Romanian (C). Alexander is also a bit of a ‘technology geek’ with a special interest in tablets and other mobile devices, regularly sharing his passion and knowledge with fellow interpreters during internal training sessions and on the web at http://www.tabletinterpreter.eu.

You can also find Alexander on Twitter as @adrechsel (personal account) and as @tabterp where he shares all things related to using tablets for interpreting.

Beat the January doldrums starting now

Beat the January doldrums starting nowThe holiday season is an interesting time in the freelance business cycle. For many freelancers, some much-wanted/needed time off turns into an unwelcome amount of down time when work is slow in January. Following are some tips on how to beat the January doldrums in your freelance business, starting now:

Tip 1: Work over the holidays if you need or want to. Many established freelancers may look forward to a holiday lull. And if you work with clients in Europe, they may all but shut down until about January 9, the first Monday after New Year’s. But especially if you’re just starting your freelance business (or if you need to bring in some more income before the end of the year), consider working over the holidays. This is an especially good time to land new clients, when all of a translation agency’s go-to translators are out of the office and they have no choice but to branch out.

Tip 2: Assign yourself some work for January. What do most freelancers do when work is slow? Panic. Assume that no client will ever call them again. What’s a better option? “Assign yourself” to those non-paying projects that (if you’re like me…) remain eternally on the back burner because they’re not due tomorrow. Demo some accounting software. Upgrade your website. Take an online course. Start researching a new specialization. Write an e-book. Pre-load your blog with 10 posts. The key here is to plan ahead, so that the “assignments” are in place when you sit down at your desk in the new year, and before panic mode sets in.

Tip 3: Do a marketing push ahead of your slow periods. The time to get on a client’s radar screen is before they need you. For next year, schedule a marketing push in early December, before your clients wind down for the holidays. For now, prepare a marketing push for the next big work slowdown (such as July and August, when a lot of clients and translators go on vacation). For example, write a warm e-mail that you can send to prospective clients; resolve to send at least three e-mails a day, starting two to three weeks before you expect your work volume to drop off. Check in with all of your current clients (anything in the pipeline that you might help with?) and prospect for some new clients.

Tip 4: Evaluate your business expenses. Many freelance translators spend *too little* on their businesses, in a way that can lead to stagnation. But it’s also important to look at what you’re currently spending, and where you could reallocate some money. This is especially critical if you tend to sign up for services that require a monthly fee, but then you don’t end up using as much as you anticipated. It’s also critical if you pay for big-ticket expenses such as health insurance or office rent. Otherwise, think about what expenses might make you happier and more productive in your work (an accountant? a better desk?) and allocate some money for those.

Along those same lines, the end of the year is a good time to rack up tax-deductible business expenses. For example, make sure to renew your ATA membership and any other professional association memberships before December 31, so that you can claim the business expense for this year. If you need office equipment or a new computer, Black Friday and after-Christmas sales are a great time to shop for deals. Software companies may even run end-of-the-year specials. In future years, you may even want to earmark some money to spend in December.

Tip 5: Plan a “think swap” activity with other freelancers. January is a great time for types of activities that seem like a good idea, but for which you never have time. Invite three or four (or more) other freelancers, block out a couple of hours, and pick a topic. Maybe you invite other people in your language pair and everyone translates the same passage before you meet, then you go over your translations together. Maybe you invite freelancers of various flavors and trade marketing ideas. Go over each other’s resumes or LinkedIn profiles. Practice interpreting using YouTube videos. The possibilities are pretty much endless, and in January you may actually have the time for some of them!

Thanks for reading, and happy translating!

Header image credit: MTT

Author bio

Corinne McKayCorinne McKay, CT, is an ATA-certified French to English translator and the current ATA President-elect. She specializes in international development, corporate communications, and non-fiction book translation. She is also passionate about helping beginning and established translators launch, run, and grow successful freelance businesses. Her book, How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator, has become a go-to reference for the industry with over 10,000 copies in print, and her blog, Thoughts on Translation, has been a lively gathering place for freelance translators since 2008. You can keep in touch with Corinne on Twitter @corinnemckay, or on LinkedIn.

A Newbie’s Experience at #ATA57

ATA 57th Annual ConferenceAttending conferences can be exciting and nerve-racking at the same time, but with the Newbies & Buddies program at the ATA annual conference, I felt at ease and enjoyed every moment to the fullest. Bonding with three smiling faces through the welcome reception—Farah Arjang, a veteran translator and translation service provider, and Yifan Zhan and Lilian Gao, two graduate students studying Translation and Localization Management at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, I was happy as a clam. Our little group had quite the variety: practitioner, student, and scholar of translation and interpreting.

‘Hectic’ is a good word to describe the first day of international conferences for first time attendees. The 57th ATA annual conference was no exception. Luckily, the conference was carefully organized and attended to even the smallest details, such as the suggestion that Newbies have a meal with their Buddies. Compulsory and stiff as it might sound, it did help to take a lot of pressure off the Newbies. Farah briefed us on the basic flow of the conference schedule at the continental breakfast on the first day, so the three of us had a general idea of where to go and what to expect at the sessions to follow. I personally am a big fan of the conference app! I had all my sessions planned out ahead of time and was able to set up alerts. With the guidance of a kind and caring experienced ATA conference attendee and a helpful app, the first day was not all that hectic but instead quite enjoyable.

As a scholar and practitioner of Chinese/English translation and interpreting, I’m always drawn to learning about the Chinese/English language service industry, so I added the session called “Language Services Industry in China: Opportunities and Challenges” to the top of my schedule. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that Dr. Ping Yang, Chief Editor of the Chinese Translators Journal, the most influential academic journal in translation and interpreting studies in China, had been invited to give a talk about the status quo and prospects of translation services and translation studies in China. I’ve met Dr. Yang on many occasions in China, and ATA brought us together once again in the U.S. What a delightful coincidence! The other two speakers, Hui Tao and Yang Yu, introduced translation services in China from the perspective of localization, machine-aided translation technology, and big data analysis. It was definitely eye-opening for me to learn how entrenched technology is becoming in the industry.

The sessions that I looked forward to the most even before I arrived in San Francisco were those related to interpreting ethics, which was the theme of the panel discussion for the Interpreting Division this year. Interpreting ethics is my current research interest. I learned a lot from the panelists, Helen Eby, Milena Calderari-Waldron, Robyn Dean, Christina Helmerichs, and Marina Waters. In Dr. Robyn Dean’s sessions, she deconstructed the notion of the interpreter’s “role” and differentiated the use of the term in sociology and applied ethics. This was very new and insightful, since the interpreter’s role is always the center of discussion regarding the quality of interpreting services, where different metaphors of roles are often used to assess an interpreter’s performance. I had a pleasant short conversation with Dr. Dean afterwards and mentioned to her my questionnaire about interpreters’ decision making processes. She was interested and offer a few words of encouragement. The ATA annual meeting offered a great bridge for young scholars like myself to reach out to established scholars and learn from them.

Time always flies when you’re having fun. In the end, I departed San Francisco feeling extremely grateful. I’m grateful to Farah, whose advice was like a life jacket for newbies to navigate the oceans of opportunities and insight at the conference; to Yifang and Lilian, with whom I braved the air-tight schedule without suffocating as we were bombarded with new information. I’m grateful to all the speakers in the different sessions that painted the picture of a new and promising world of translation and interpreting. Finally, I’m grateful to the conference organizers and volunteers, who produced a successful event, united us for the 57th time, and reminded us that as translators and interpreters, though we are invisible most of the time, we are important, and we do not stand alone.

Author bio

Mia YinMingyue Yin is an assistant professor and Ph.D candidate at Sichuan University in China. She is also a visiting scholar at the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interest is in Translation/Interpreting Studies and Language Communication. She is currently working on her doctoral research project, “Interpreter’s Decision Making and Ethics”. Mingyue is also a certified Chinese/English Interpreter through the Chinese Accreditation Test for Translators and Interpreters (CATTI).

5 lessons from SLAM! on promoting professionalism in the translation industry

5 lessons from SLAM! on promoting professionalism in the translation industryHow do you differentiate yourself and earn a living as a freelance translator or interpreter? Arm yourself with huge doses of entrepreneurship, pride and courage. Keep on reading to get more tips and be ready to rock!

About SLAM!
The Scandinavian Language Associations’ meeting (SLAM!) was held on the 24th of September in Malmö. The theme of the event was promoting professionalism in a changing market.

Some of the speakers were experienced personalities in the translation world such as Chris Durban and Ros Schwartz. I was there to learn, network and enjoy the sense of community that I get among other language professionals. I kept hearing some recurring topics that I am sharing with you here. I hope you find them useful as pieces of advice and enjoy applying them.

  • Find your niche.

Everyone talked about specialization. When I first heard this before the event, I did not understand the importance of it. Since the conference, I have attended two conferences and several courses in my specialization. I have literature on the subject at hand and I feel much better prepared to translate within digital marketing. I simply love the field. I now agree that it gives you more in-depth knowledge and skills. You build a clearer profile that makes it easier for clients to decide if you are the right fit for their project.

  • No price competition.

As opposed to what some might think, we are not at all competing on price but on quality and the added value we provide. Quoting cheaper prices is not a solution but educating our clients can eliminate some price sensitivity. Concentrate on rendering quality services that offer solutions to your clients’ dilemmas. Find ways to add value and enhance your delivery with extra suggestions and service. It will pay off; your clients will understand the advantages of working with a language consultant that knows what he or she is doing and they will keep coming back.

  • Have goals.

Write down your goals on paper for a daily reminder of what you want to achieve. Make them specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. They will help you keep on track when the spirit fails. Having them clear in your mind will put you closer to achieving them.

  • Believe in yourself.

Know what you can do and believe in your value and that of your company. With language skills, specialized knowledge, a focus on value for clients and specific goals, you are all set, right? Well, do not forget to be confident in all those things. As a sole proprietor you need the mindset for success and to concentrate on positive things to remain optimistic and proud of what you do. This will in turn help you present your business in a better way. Train building your confidence, practice your elevator pitch and be your best boss. Strive at all times to deliver quality; the best value you can give, and that will make your customer want to come back.

  • Get out of the house.

Challenge the idea that translators are shy creatures hiding behind their screens. Network and meet new clients. You need to be out there so that your prospective clients find you and know you can help them. Attend conferences and trade fairs so that you can stay up to date on topics you specialize in and meet potential clients in need of your services. Become a member of local chambers of commerce where you can expand your network and find recommendations, projects and people to collaborate with in some form. Be a member of an association that supports your work as a translator.

Keep reading, keep listening, keep learning, keep applying, and good luck! Have you got any comments or useful pieces of advice on these subjects? Please share.

Author bio

Noelia GarasievichNoelia Garasievich is an English/Swedish to Spanish translator and content writer specialized in digital marketing and transcreation. She is a member of the Swedish Association of Professional Translators (SFÖ). She has written pedagogical books in Sweden where she has lived for the past 15 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in conference interpretation and translation and a European Master in Conference Interpreting. Connect with her on Twitter @NoeliaLG1 or visit her website.

Always leave the door open for future opportunities

Always leave the door open for future opportunitiesLearning to say no is widely covered in our profession. It is a skill many of us have to work on. It took me a long time to identify my limits and realize that yes can be a huge and attractive trap. There is another aspect of our profession that does not receive as much attention: learning to hear no and respond properly.

Not too long ago I was contacted by a law firm. They seemed to be in a big hurry to replace their previous translator. They invited me to come to their offices for a meeting and I promptly agreed. Error #1.

I should have investigated them before responding to their email. The email identified the type of law the firm was involved in, but did not give me any idea of their size or type of cases they took on (personal, business, both). It would also have been a good idea to tell them my rates beforehand to make sure my services fit within their budget. Error #2.

The interview was conducted in a hallway (bad sign). I was informed that the attorney herself performed the translations into Portuguese (well, her accent was not that of a Portuguese speaker, which already concerned me), and the attorney’s focus was on cost. All she cared about was the fact that her former translators had raised their fees.

Upon seeing the dollar signs swirling around my head, I informed her of my rates. Guess what her response was? She abruptly thanked me, turned around and left the hallway. I was left there dumbfounded staring at her back. After a day of thinking how to properly respond, I sent her office a note that read more or less like this:

Dear Former Prospective Client,

Thank you for making yourself available to speak with me at your offices on [DATE]. I truly wished we had had more time to speak so we could both fully understand what was at stake.

My career in translation and interpreting spans 36 years and I have clients in various countries and industry segments. The reason my clients choose to work with me are quality and reliability. The dollar signs attached to a translation project are to be analyzed against the best interest of the client, always.

In order to project a more polished image and produce a fully culturally and linguistically correct product, language access through translation and interpreting has to be considered beyond dollar signs.

I understand that my rates do not fit your budget but I can offer you guidance on where to look for qualified professionals. The best places to find qualified translators are the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (http://www.najit.org) and the American Translators Association (http://www.atanet.org). These two professional associations offer directory users the opportunity to search by language pair, certifications and location among other options. Their members are bound by codes of ethics pertaining to confidentiality, quality, professionalism, which I believe, would suit your organization.

The ideas behind the note were:

  1. Bring back a level of civility to our exchange
  2. Keep the door open for future projects
  3. Share information that may assist them in the future
  4. Help them realize that their need is shared by many and
  5. There are professionals trained to assist them

As you may have guessed, I have not heard back from them. However, should they choose to do so, rather than the bad impression left by the meeting, we will have the email as a starting point for our renewed relationship.

Lessons learned:

  1. Always follow your procedures for qualifying a client
  2. Rushing things lends itself to bad experiences (not always, but enough times)
  3. An emergency on the client’s part does not constitute an emergency on my end
  4. Keep calm and read the signs!

Image credit: freely

Author bio
Giovanna LesterBrazilian-born Giovanna “Gio” Lester has worked in the translation and interpreting fields since 1980. Gio is very active in her profession and in the associations she is affiliated with: ATANAJITIAPTI, and the new ATA Florida Chapter, ATIF, which she co-founded in 2009, serving as its first elected president (2011-2012).
As an international conference interpreter, Gio has been the voice of government heads and officials, scientists, researchers, doctors, hairdressers, teachers, engineers, investors and more. She loves to teach and share her experience. Connect with her on Twitter @giostake and contact her at gio@giolester.com.

Quoting a Large Translation Project

By May Fung Danis and Steven Marzuola

Quoting a Large Translation ProjectMay Fung Danis and Steven Marzuola each responded to a question about writing a proposal for a large translation project recently on the ATA Business Practices discussion group. We’ve combined our remarks for The Savvy Newcomer blog.

First, take a look at the following resources from the ATA:

Model translation job contract A job contract is a one-time arrangement covering an individual job or assignment. It specifies the details of the work for that job—and only for that job.

Model translation agreement A services agreement is a standing arrangement covering multiple jobs or assignments. It establishes a structure for an ongoing business relationship, generally between a company and a freelancer.

(To learn more about these documents, visit http://www.atanet.org/business_practices/services_agreements.php)

The contract/agreement is relevant only when the client has decided to work with you. But looking at the contract/agreement will help you to think about the details that need to be addressed in your quote. For new clients, your quotation will typically contain the following (please note that not everything in this list will apply to you):

– Short note addressed to the person requesting the bid, acknowledging the request and thanking them for the opportunity.

– Description of services provided. This section will vary a great deal, depending on the client and industry. Feel free to omit what doesn’t make sense in your case.

  • Describe the source document. Title, revision number or date, approximate number of pages, source format (Word, PDF, etc.). This could be important if the client makes any changes to the document after they send it for translation, or if several different people have contacted you about the project.
  • Describe the target document, including the format of the finished translation. This is especially relevant when the format of your translation differs from the source, for example, if you are asked to deliver your translation as a bilingual table in a MSWord document when the source document is a .pdf file.
  • Describe how elements such as images, graphics or tables will be handled.
  • Describe whether third-party review is included. Your client may expect a document that is ready for publication. Others may only want a “draft” translation, for example, if they plan on editing the translation internally.
  • Describe whether review of proofs is included. Will the client ask you to check the printed copy for errors? A typesetter that normally works in language A might not get everything right in language B.
  • Describe whether post-delivery edits are included. When the translation is delivered, is the job complete? Or will the client perform their own review, and then ask for your consent for any changes?

– Description of your rate or price. If you are not offering a fixed price in advance, then explain how the price will be calculated.

– Description of turnaround time. Will the client make a decision immediately, or will they require some time to decide? If it’s the latter, then you should state that the delivery will be X weeks/months after they notify you of their approval.

– Description of delivery terms. Will you offer a single delivery, or does the client want to see partials?

– Description of payment terms:

  • Payment on delivery: These are the simplest terms and are preferred by most clients’ accounting departments.
  • Advance payment: Do you require an advance payment before you start work? If so, the typical percentage is 30-50% of the total, with the remaining balance due on delivery.
  • Partial payments: If the translation will take more than 30 days, will you require partial payments? Will the payments be linked to partial deliveries?

– Description of quotation validity. How long will your quotation be valid? (What will you do if you send the quotation, and before they respond, you receive a large assignment from another customer?)

– Description of service provider qualifications. This is especially relevant if your quotation will be reviewed by a number of people and not just the person who contacted you. If you are working with an editor, a translator of a different language, or any other service providers, you might include their qualifications here also. You can use your CV here. Or, better yet, write a short paragraph describing what makes you the right translator.

– Several possible closing remarks. For example, ask whether they have any other questions, and when you can expect the order.

– Thank them, and include your contact information.

We suggest that you include all of the above in a single business-style letter; perhaps in PDF format attached to an email. After you have worked with a client, you won’t need to include all of these details in future proposals. But you should still include these basics:

name and contact info
client’s name and contact info
date (important if your quote is only valid for a certain amount of time)
project description/details
price
turnaround/delivery date
payment terms (e.g. partial payment)

Good luck on your first big quote!

Author bios

May Fung Danis is a member of ATA’s Business Practices Education committee and serves as co-moderator for its discussion list. An ATA-certified French to English translator, May lives and works in Guadeloupe, France.www.mfdanis.com

Steven Marzuola is a Spanish to English technical translator based in Houston, Texas. He specializes in the oil and gas industry and related technical and commercial documents. www.techlanguage.com