Eight tips to become the ideal translator

This post originally appeared on Multilingual and it is republished with permission.

As a senior localization manager, I spend a lot of time finding and hiring translators for my client’s projects. Over the past 15 years, I’ve discovered that the translators who consistently deliver the highest quality adhere to certain helpful and professional business practices. Whether you hire translators or are a professional linguist yourself, whether you are a new translator or one with many years of experience, incorporating these skills will ensure successful and long-lasting partnerships.

1. Be responsive

I routinely send out translation quote requests for potential jobs to an extensive network of professional linguists, but many times, I receive no response. As a project manager, this can be very frustrating. A lack of response doesn’t give me the feedback I need to understand why a particular job wasn’t of interest.

The ideal translator is responsive. They will let me know if they are interested in the project and when they might be free to work on it. If the project isn’t a match for their skill set, or if they aren’t available due to work on another project, they will still respond to let me know. When my contacts take the time to reply, even if the answer is “no thanks,” it shows that they are professional, courteous and that they are interested in a future working relationship.

2. Ask questions

When requesting quotes, I send the name of the client, the industry and the type of content to be translated. The ideal translator will always ask additional, follow-up questions to better understand what the project entails. They will ask about delivery dates, word counts ans so on — any information that will help them do a better job. The best will ask if the client has a style guide, any existing translation memories (TM) or glossaries. By asking questions, they will get the information they need in advance to determine if it is a job that they can complete successfully.

3. Respect deadlines

Translation can be a very deadline-driven business. That’s why translators who respect my deadlines and my client’s deadlines are ideal. As a project manager, I try to give our linguists plenty of time to complete a project. Managing rush jobs and several different delivery dates can be challenging, so knowing when a project will be completed is key to my ability to manage customer expectations. The best translators respect deadlines and will keep me apprised of their estimated delivery date and will always let me know if they need extra time to finish a project.

4. Discuss rates in advance

Most linguists have a per-word rate and different rates depending on the subject matter and type of content. It is important to discuss any applicable rates in advance, before committing to do a project. I always include rates in my initial email. The ideal translator will take note of that information and get any clarification they need on payment terms in advance. The ideal translator should also be willing to negotiate or offer discounts based on higher volumes and the consistent work that is available when working for larger clients. Agreeing to a lower rate can pay off by providing more steady work and lead to becoming a go-to resource for a particular client.

5. Keep in touch

It’s not unusual for project managers and translators to work in different time zones. As a result, it is important to make sure there is a time frame where those hours overlap, in order to communicate about the project in a timely manner. Nothing is more frustrating for a project manager than receiving an Out of Office reply that contains no information on when the recipient will be available. The ideal translator will keep in touch and let me know about any dates they are unavailable, such as local holidays, vacations or when they will be engaged with other projects.

6. Identify potential translation issues

Translation is not an exact science. Sometimes word choices require the translator to make a judgment call on the best translation. We also know that clients might not necessarily agree with those decisions. The best translators will provide a summary of issues or certain word choice decisions, when the project is delivered, before the client sends it on to their reviewers. This type of proactive, conscientious work is always appreciated and helps to ensure that all parties are communicating to ensure the highest quality.

7. Be open to feedback

Feedback is important in translation project management. The ideal translator is professional, open to and accepting of feedback. They do not take negative feedback too personally. There are times when a client might insist on a translation that is non-standard. While it is important to bring this to their attention, the client always has the final say. As the adage goes, “the customer is always right.” Remember that the more feedback you receive, the more you learn. That information can be used to update the style guide of client preferences to ensure satisfaction with the final product.

8. Get certification

When I’m hiring translators, I look for native speakers of the target language(s). It is also important that they are accredited by a globally-recognized translation and interpretation industry organization such as the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI), American Translators Association (ATA), Société Française des Traducteurs (SFT) and so on. The ideal translator will include any certifications they have and display them prominently on their website, profile, and resume. They should also include any subject matter expertise and relevant work history. This makes it easier to have an understanding of their level of qualification for any particular project.

Rise above the competition

Professional translators are facing increasing competition, from each other and from emerging technology that threatens to replace them. Forging long-lasting and financially beneficial relationships with localization project managers and language services providers is key to survival. Becoming the ideal translator is possible with greater communication, attention to detail, professionalism, and being proactive. Translators who adopt these eight business practices will quickly gain a reputation for conscientiousness and quality that will help them stand apart.

Author bio

Romina Castroman has an MBA from the Bremen University of Applied Sciences and a BA in travel and tourism from Brigham Young University. She has 15 years of experience successfully managing projects and cross cultural experience in Europe, Latin America and the US. She is fluent in German, Spanish and English.

Pursuing the Translation Dream: Promoter of the Profession

 

Since we last visited ATA’s Self-Evaluation Questionnaire for Translators we hope you’ve had a chance to practice the items we discussed in section 4, “Professional Demeanor.” It can be a challenge to develop a professional mindset and apply it to all your business interactions, but we’re confident that you’ve done so skillfully.

Now that you’ve mastered what to know before the phone rings, what to know after the phone rings, how to keep the phone ringing, and developing a professional demeanor, we’re ready to move on to the fifth and final installment of this series on how to achieve a successful professional career in translation. Today we’ll explore the steps to becoming a “Promoter of the Profession,” not only to gain respect from your peers and colleagues, but also more appreciation for your career from your friends, family, and acquaintances. We hope this prompts you to become a more active proponent and spokesperson for the translation and interpreting professions in your everyday life.

In conversation, whenever appropriate, do I bring up the words “translation,” “translator,” and “interpreter” in order to further the public’s awareness of the profession and its significance?

Mentioning what you do is a signal that you like it and you’re proud of it. Anytime I meet people who don’t like to talk about their jobs outside their workplace, it’s a sure sign to me that they don’t enjoy what they do! Talking about translation and/or interpreting with your personal and professional networks sends a message that you’re invested in your career and enjoy it for reasons other than simply the financial gains it may bring.

When you do discuss translation and interpreting with friends and family, try to be aware of any misunderstandings they may have about your profession. You may be the only translator they know! Make sure to listen carefully to how they ask or talk about your job in order to gently correct any myths they may have adopted about this profession. (For example, friends may assume you translate in both directions, that you speak lots of different languages, or that you only work in hospital settings when they hear “I’m a translator.”) Try not to diminish what you do in an effort to be modest; if you’re genuinely proud of your job, don’t downplay it! Don’t be afraid of admitting you’re fluent in another language and that you earn a good living doing what you do. It can be tempting to modulate your conversations with false humility, saying you’re “just” a translator or even choosing to refer to yourself as a “freelancer” instead of a “small business owner.” These small changes in the way we talk about our work can make a big difference in how people perceive us.

Would I consider doing outreach work for the profession by talking to high schools, participating in college career days, submitting articles about the translation field to general interest publications, writing letters to the editor, speaking at business community networking meetings, or informing new translators about professional associations and conferences, etc.?

One very meaningful way to promote the translation and interpreting professions is by talking to future generations about the importance of the work we do. ATA has an entire School Outreach team to encourage linguists to do this very activity! Teaching others about the work of translators and interpreters is a great way to both inform the public about the professions and also learn more about it yourself. By researching and preparing for these events and publications you may learn things you didn’t know and make connections you wouldn’t otherwise have made. Promoting the profession through outreach can be as simple as visiting your child’s classroom on Career Day or writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper to share an interesting update about your profession. Whatever platform you may have to share information with others, consider it an opportunity to broadcast the fact that translators and interpreters play a crucial role in many of the everyday products and processes we take for granted.

Here’s a challenge for you: next time you are given a platform to share information with a group of people, try to mention your work in the fields of translation and interpreting. Slip in the fact that you speak multiple languages. See how many people come up to you later and want to know more! Perhaps this will even present more opportunities to share with a broader network of people or allow you to make connections that could benefit your business.

Am I interested in serving as an active volunteer or officer of a professional translator or interpreter organization?

Volunteers power our organizations! To volunteer in a professional association means to contribute your time and effort without pay; it can be a thankless job but it has the potential to benefit all your fellow translators and interpreters, not to mention the generations of professionals who will come after you. Involvement in professional organizations can come in many forms; within ATA alone there are volunteers who coordinate the Mentoring Program, School Outreach Contest, divisions, committees, certification program, and much more. If you’re interested in getting involved but don’t know where to start, see this ATA Chronicle article for some ideas.

Contributing time and energy as a volunteer can send some very powerful messages about you as a promoter of the profession; it tells onlookers that you care about your profession. Dedicating time to furthering the mission of translators and interpreters shows that you are committed to this career. Joining forces with fellow professionals says you’re a team player and that you collaborate and cooperate well with others. What do your current volunteer activities say about you?

Do I continue to be alert to what it is I do not yet know?

Part of being an advocate for the translation and interpreting profession is realizing you’ll never know all there is to know about it. As a promoter of the profession, you’re constantly on the lookout for new developments and changes that impact your work, and you use these updates as an opportunity to broaden your horizons and spread the word about your profession to new outlets. This may take the form of attending conferences, following newsletters and blogs, or just staying in touch with fellow professionals.

Do I enjoy the translation business?

People who don’t like what they do prefer not to talk about work. But if you love your job as a translator or interpreter, you’ll be bursting to share what you do with everyone around you! Focus on the aspects of your job that you enjoy; make a list if you have to, and be sure to share these perks with the people around you as you promote the profession and, as a result, promote translation and interpreting professionals everywhere.

Thank you for joining us for this journey in pursuing the translation dream; we hope it’s landed you closer to achieving your goals and helped you find success!

Your Networking Mistakes are Turning People Off

This post originally appeared on SBO blog and it is republished with permission.

I’ve been networking regularly for about eight years now, gradually increasing the frequency from once a month to at least once a week, sometimes more. As I eased into the rhythm of networking and kept seeing familiar faces (Singapore is really darn small), things got a little boring. And then I started people watching.

It’s actually an interesting exercise to step out of being a participant and into an observer’s point of view. It dawned on me that I was once (and sometimes still am) that douchebag who unintentionally (and now sometimes intentionally, for good reasons, of course) behaved inappropriately.

It’s forgivable if you’re a newbie, but many people remain oblivious to despite going to countless networking events. Let’s count your sins.

Let’s count your sins.

Going without intention

It’s easy for people to tell when you’re networking without a purpose, and they’re likely to think that you’re a time-waster and probably unreliable.

Networking needs to be intentional, even if the intention is as mundane as going there to see who you can possibly connect with. Or maybe you’re looking for more business and want to qualify some prospects. Whatever it is, find a reason to be there. Your actions and chats will become purposeful. People can see that and might even mistake that as confidence.

But of course, this can swing the other way as well, that is approaching the session very intentionally with the goal of selling.

Going with every intention to sell

This very aggressive approach to networking turns people off almost instantly.

A casual survey that I had conducted on a Facebook group revealed that most people hate hard-sellers.

If you’re pulling out your sales deck or portfolio the first time you meet someone, then you’re doing it wrong. Networkers, especially the seasoned ones, can detect desperation. This very aggressive approach to networking turns people off almost instantly.

Remember that networking requires some time investment. It’s all about sowing seeds. Even if the relationships that you’ve nurtured don’t result in a direct sale, they might end up passing referrals to you, simply because you’ve been a sincere friend.

Be a wallflower

… grab an extroverted friend, explain your fear and willingness to face it, and get said friend to help you open up conversations.

Networking means jumping into the pit with everyone. If you’re going to stay in one corner and just wait for people to approach, you’re better off saving your money and staying home. Furthermore, the impression you’d be leaving would be that creep who’s at a corner, and the longer you stay in that corner, the more people will never approach you.

If you’re afraid of crowds but still wish to push boundaries through networking, that’s great! Try approaching someone that’s away from the crowd (there’s always at least one other person) and strike a conversation. Another way is to grab an extroverted friend, explain your fear and willingness to face it, and get said friend to help you open up conversations.

Go talk to someone!

Be passive

Conversation is a two-way street. When you get into a conversation with someone, don’t just give a one-worded reply or wait for the other party to ask more questions. This comes across as insincere and disinterested.

Take a real interest in what people are doing. Reciprocate with genuine questions. Showing that you are curious will encourage people to share more.

Beating around the bush

If you’re going to get someone as a client, they are going to find out who you really are sooner or later. Can they trust you to be honest and professional with their money when you’re not forthcoming?

The most common trades that are present at any networking sessions are financial planners and property agents. The decent ones will not mince their words and just tell you straight up who they are, then tell you what’s different about them. This is great because it saves everyone time. The interested parties can stay, the rest can move on.

Then there are the annoying ones telling you some variation of their job, such as “finance industry professional”, “wealth manager” or “investment strategist”, and only upon probing further that people realise who they really are.

Now think about it. If you’re going to get someone as a client, they are going to find out who you really are sooner or later. Can they trust you to be honest and professional with their money when you’re not forthcoming?

Pushing name cards

People don’t like to be treated as a number, a game or both.

To some people, networking is but a numbers game. The more people you come into contact, the better. These people seem to be always in a rush, shoving their name cards into people’s hands as if they are flyers. The more creative ones give out other forms of marketing collaterals, including gifts, in place of name cards, but that doesn’t make it less offensive.

People don’t like to be treated as a number, a game or both. They want to be treated as a valued individual. Even if you’re in a rush, linger for a while, ask a few questions and at least try to understand the other party at a superficial level. When you really need to go, apologise and offer to arrange a separate time to catch up.

If you’re still not convinced and insist on doing this, you’re better off standing at the MRT station giving out flyers. You’d capture a lot more people.

Pushing name cards pushes people away.

Dominating the conversation

While it’s true that networking is all about talking, it’s not all about you. People didn’t pony up and gather at a place at their free time to hear you ramble on and on about yourself. Don’t hog the individual. As interesting as that person may be, he or she would like to know more people too.

Be aware of the conversation. It’s obvious that you’re just talking to yourself when nobody’s asking you questions. But if you find someone who really does ask a lot about you, find an opportune time to turn the tables around and say, “I’ve been talking so much about myself, but I hardly know you!”, then follow up with a question.

Another good rule of thumb is to move on after some time. “Some time” is really subjective because it depends on how many people are there and how much time you have. In doubt, keep to 5-10 minutes and move on.

Asking to be added to someone’s personal social media

Unless you’re talking about LinkedIn or if you’re sure the other party feels as if you’re a long lost twin, do not ask to be added on Facebook, Instagram or the likes. It may come across as an invasion of privacy, particularly when you’ve just met. Think of how uncomfortable you’d be when a stranger comes so close to you that you can feel their breath. Yup, it’s that creepy.

Be a friend first before asking to be added to their personal social network. If you can’t wait, LinkedIn is the closest you should get.

Using your phone or talking to someone while someone else is talking

That’s simply rude. You’re sending the message that you’re either not interested or not paying attention.

If you’re keen on the conversation but really have to attend to your phone or someone else, apologise and tell that person that you’ll get back later once you’re done.

If you’re not keen, find an excuse and move along.

Pro tip: Unless you have an image to keep, using your phone is actually a good strategy to turn off those that you don’t want to talk to. I’ll share more in a future article.

Stop checking your mobile phone when someone’s talking to you!

Turn a coffee session into a sales meeting

If you asked for a coffee session, keep it as is. Don’t start whipping out your slide deck and present your product.

A coffee session with someone you’re keen to work with is a good idea as a follow-up to a networking session. But be very clear of what you asked for. If you asked for a coffee session, keep it as is. Don’t start whipping out your slide deck and present your product.

That session is good for you to understand the other party at a deeper level. Find out what they do and the challenges they face. With all that information, you’d be positioning yourself better to offer a solution and, eventually, close the deal. Even if you don’t, you’ve probably forged a stronger relationship with a potential source of referrals.

Even till today, I’m guilty of some of these mistakes (an introvert loves to be a wallflower). Just being a little more mindful helps you to become a better networker, leave good impressions and form stronger relationships.

Have you observed any other annoying behaviour? Comment below.

Author bio

Vinleon Ang is the chief editor of Singapore Business Owners, a small business magazine that talks about businesses in Singapore. He is passionate about content marketing and building magazine titles. He is also available for consulting and partnerships. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.

Five Things That Bother Me As A Translator

“Translations? Is that a thing?”

In 2016 I started a BA in Translations. It was a new, exciting experience for me, being able to study something that I had decided to do in high school, but had to put off for two years because, you know, life. However, with my decision to become a translator—and eventually working as one—came a lot of things that bothered me, and still do. Let us see, shall we?

  1. “Translations? Is that a thing?” When I told people that I was studying translations, about 60% replied with these questions. Yes, of course it is a thing. You read Harry Potter in Spanish, right? How do you think that happened? As awesome as it sounds, Hermione did not magically convert the books to other languages.
  2. “Does it really take four years to learn how to get one text from one language to the other? Don’t you just need to know the language and that is it?” No! There is a reason we study for four years. Do you know how many different translations the word “consideration” has? It is a nightmare. You are not translating 24/7 for four years; you have to learn punctuation, Spanish and English sentence analysis, and if you want to major in something, you have to study everything related to that major (like literature, medical English or private law.) So, no. Two years is not enough. Hell, four years is not enough.
  3. “Hey, you are a translator. What does *random Spanish word* mean?” Wow, I did not know I had suddenly morphed into a dictionary. Just because I work as someone who translates a text into another language does not mean I know the translation of every word. Again, do you know how many translations “consideration” has?
  4. “I heard you graduated! Can you give me an estimate of how much this translation will cost? Oh, I am going to go for someone cheaper.” I hate disloyal competition! I have been working freelance since before I graduated, and I would either do the projects for free or get paid in Starbucks. Now, I’ve found out that not only is competition tough, but other translators are willing to basically give their work away by how little they are charging their clients. I gave someone an estimate which was less than half of what I would normally charge, basically giving them my work for free, but they thought it was too expensive. I lost my first client as a graduate because of unfair competition, and I’m pretty bothered by that.
  5. “Hi! I am very interested in your CV and think you will make a great addition to our team. Do you have experience? *five days go by* Sorry, we have decided to move on with more experienced candidates.” How am I supposed to gain experience when no one will hire me because I have no experience? It is just like those job ads that say “Entry level” but require 3-5 years of experience. It makes no sense.

In 2020 I graduated as a translator. Some people have a knack for science, others for arts, and others, like me, for languages. No, it is not easy. But with hard work and lots of coffee, you get the job done. I may never be rid of the questions you see above, or the disloyal competition out there, but, at the end of the day, I love what I do; and even though all these things bothered me—and some still do—, getting the right translation of the word “consideration” is so rewarding. There is no better feeling.

Of course, this is just my experience. As a recent graduate I would love to know what other frustrations translators have (either graduates or translators who are well into the business). Also, veterans, if you have any tips based on your experience, please let me know. I really want a job.

About the author

Samantha Biscomb is an English-Spanish translator, graduated from the University of Montevideo, Uruguay. She has been working freelance since 2018 because no company will hire her given that she has no experience working in a company. It bothers her.

How to Create an Ideal T&I Client Profile to Market Your Services

This post was originally published on Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo’s blog. It is reposted with permission.

It is incredibly important to know your ideal client if your marketing efforts are going to be effective. After all, we want to work with our ideal clients, and not just anyone who crosses our paths, right? I mentioned recently in a webinar that I created an ideal client profile and its usefulness in creating effective marketing content in my business.

One of the attendees asked me if I could show an example of an ideal client profile and how to create one, so I’m breaking it all down for you right here. I’ve even thrown in examples from my own translation client profile!

● Start with creating your ideal client avatar.

○ Find an image that depicts your ideal client. This way, whenever you create new marketing content, you have an image of this person in your head and you know that this is who you are talking to and targeting in your marketing campaigns.

○ Give your ideal client a name (also called a user persona).

○ Give them a position or title.

○ Include demographic information:

■ gender
■ age
■ education/background
■ marital status
■ salary
■ where he/she lives
■ number of children, etc.

○ Include information about his/her personality. What does he/she:

■ like to do outside of work?
■ like to watch on TV?
■ like to buy (what brands and where does he/she shop)?
■ drive?
■ wear?

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● Then, describe how you can be your ideal client’s best choice of translator or interpreter.

○ What are his/her goals at home and at work? What does he/she aspire to do in his/her career?

○ What are his/her pain points/challenges?

○ What outcomes does he/she want?

○ What services do you offer that can help relieve his/her pains/
challenges?

○ What services do you offer that help him/her reach goals?

○ What pains can you kill? What gains can you create?

○ How did he/she find you?

○ What makes him/her engage with you?

○ What makes him/her return to work with you?

○ What makes him/her recommend you to someone else?

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● Finally, create your marketing content based on what you know about your ideal client. Be creative!

○ How did he/she find you?

○ What makes him/her engage with you?

○ What makes him/her return as a customer?

○ What makes him/her recommend you?

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Once you can summarize this information related to your ideal client, you will have an ideal client profile that will inform all of your marketing decisions and efforts. All of your marketing efforts should be geared toward this type of client. You need to know this person before you can market to them. So, now that you do, create those marketing campaigns that you know will speak to them on a personal level. You can do this via social media posts, emails, blogs, etc., and always remember to keep them in mind every time you create a new piece of marketing content.

Author bio

Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo is the owner of Accessible Translation Solutions (ATS), a boutique translation company based in Southern California. She is also a Spanish and Portuguese to English translator, specializing in medicine and life sciences. Madalena’s interest in online marketing and copywriting has led her to write and teach about the benefits of using informational content online to attract and retain clients. After seeing the advantages of intentional and strategic marketing in her own business, Madalena now teaches those same skills to other freelance language professionals. She blogs and teaches courses on topics related to marketing your freelance translation business by deliberately building and shaping your online presence. For more information, visit www.madalenazampaulo.com.