In general, the criteria used by translation agencies and end clients for choosing the appropriate translator or interpreter for a given job are well-known: specialization in a given language pair and field of expertise, years of experience, rate range, availability, credentials and client feedback, among others. But outsourcers are not the only ones in a position to set the parameters for a given job and working relationship. Translators and interpreters too can –and actually should– have their own set of parameters to decide when to accept a job offer made by a new client or decline it.
Most professional translators and interpreters with years of experience have realized that identifying the client before even evaluating a job offer is perhaps the most important strategy to apply. Client identification means checking thoroughly client’s information available:
- Email address, to confirm that the client is offering the job in the name of a given company (in which case the domain name will include the company’s name and will link to their website, john_doe@company_name.com > http://www.company_name.com) or to see through a quick search whether this is the client’s regular email address or an invented one (in the case of end-clients). Companies will rarely use email addresses from free email service providers such as yahoo!, Gmail or Hotmail.
- Website, to learn more about the client, check their contact information, address, phone number, etc. A quick search on yellow pages will help to confirm their details and a call to their phone number will give translators the chance to make sure that such client is really behind the job offer.
- Google search of the company name and the contact person’s name to learn more about their activity on and offline, and confirm that they are real and part of the industry they claim to be part of (translation industry, if they claim to be a translation agency, or any other industry in the case of end-clients) .
Once a client’s contact and activity information has been confirmed, translators should turn into assessing their reliability as business partners. Assessing a client’s business reliability means investigating a bit further to know more about their payment practices, the type of communication they maintain with their service providers and their business model. Search for translators’ feedback on their past experience with the client. The ProZ.com Blue Board record will help with this.
And when the client has been identified, and their reliability has been determined, translators and interpreters can move into evaluating the job offer. While when receiving the project offer service providers may have already thought about the job details and its implications in terms of size, time available and additional requirements, these aspects of the job should be evaluated carefully and in deep when choosing a client. The client can be asked for the files –or part of them– to be translated so that a word-count can be performed and the complexity of the project and time required can be determined. They should also state clearly –and preferably in written form– the delivery deadline expected (including time zone details), the rate offered, their payment terms and the payment method to be used. All these are aspects that will tell more about a client (and how they do business) and give the information needed to either accept of decline their offer.
Just as a client’s responsibility is to find a suitable service provider for the sake of the project, when choosing a client, translators’ responsibility is to evaluate the opportunity carefully in pursuit of a successful outsourcer-service provider working relationship. Choosing a client is not simply accepting a job, and accepting a job is not simply agreeing on a delivery deadline and a rate. There is more to meeting a new client than meets the eye and this is an important part in any freelance business.
How do you choose your clients? Do you follow any set of parameters when you receive a job offer from an unknown client? Share below!