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.
The ProZ.com Certified PRO Network, an initiative of the ProZ.com community to provide qualified translators and translation companies with an opportunity to network and collaborate in an environment consisting entirely of screened professionals, has reached 3,000 members and more and more applications are being submitted every day.
Members of the ProZ.com Certified PRO Network have the benefit of networking with other screened professionals while distinguishing themselves as PROs. Many program participants view this also as an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the industry. Other benefits members of the program have include:
- a distinguishing Certified PRO seal shown next to their name throughout the ProZ.com site;
- a printable and downloadable certificate available in their ProZ.com profiles;
- a special search option in the ProZ.com directory of freelance translators and interpreters, ProZ.com’s main source of jobs;
- exclusive access to a personal workspace and to a Certified PRO Network private forum;
- special discount on selected ProZ.com training sessions and events;
- a distinguishing Certified PRO seal in in-person event name badges;
- access to periodically organized virtual powwows for members of the network;
- a Certified PRO logo to be used in personal websites, email signatures, blogs, etc.;
- full access to ProZ.com virtual events;
- the possibility to join Translators without Borders without going through their screening process;
- the option to share glossaries with other members of the network;
- the possibility to become ProZ.com mentors;
- and more!
To enter the Certified PRO Network, ProZ.com members must complete an online application and submit it for review to prove they meet or exceed minimum professional standards based on the EN15038 standard for quality in translation and in three screening areas: translation ability, business reliability and online citizenship.
The ProZ.com Certified PRO network is being provided as a service to ProZ.com full professional members only (non-members can still complete and submit their applications for review). If admitted, members pay no additional fees.
More information about the ProZ.com Certified PRO Network is available here.
Congratulations to the over 3,000 ProZ.com members who are further differentiating themselves professionally and taking networking and collaboration to a new level!
Every business type is exposed to risks influenced by numerous factors and the translation and interpretation business is no exception. Regardless of the type of activity involved, everyone either offering language services or looking for language service providers is exposed so several types of risks that should be acknowledged if a reliable and successful service provider-outsourcer relationship is desired.
With this in mind, ProZ.com has been creating content and developing new tools with the purpose of helping translators, translation companies, and others in the language industry to learn about the different risks involved in doing business online and how to prevent them.
One of these resources, and probably the most widely used by service providers when assessing risks, is the ProZ.com Blue Board. The Blue Board record is the complete, searchable database of records made up of feedback entries posted by language service providers in connection with outsourcers they have worked with. For service providers, the Blue Board record has proved to be a great tool for assessing the reliability of specific outsourcers before accepting a job offer from them. For outsourcers, being listed in the Blue Board record with a good number of positive entries from service providers represents a great marketing tool. Outsourcers with a good Blue Board record report a higher degree of trust and shortened project launch cycles among those service providers who reference the Blue Board. More information about using the Blue Board record is available here.
Another great source of information in connection with business risks in translation is the ProZ.com Wiki. The ProZ.com translation industry wiki is an ever-evolving collection of articles about relevant, industry related topics, written and updated regularly by translators themselves. In this wiki, there are several articles on risk management, addressed both to language professionals and to outsourcers. Risk management-related wiki articles include the following:
- Risk management for translators and interpreters
- Risk management for outsourcers
- Risk management: Email
- Risk management: the Blue Board
For more information about the ProZ.com industry wiki, visit this page.
A recently released scam alert center is another potentially valuable resource for those seeking to manage risk when it comes to false job offers and other scams. The Translator scam alert center is an area used to provide organized, concise information regarding false job offers or requests and other scams which may be aimed at or are affecting language professionals and outsourcers. Information provided in the center is based in part on reports made by ProZ.com members through the online support system and in the ProZ.com Scams forum, and ProZ.com members have the option of subscribing to receive useful news and alerts of new scams as they are detected. The scam alert center is available here.
Finally, ProZ.com also offers its members a free webinar on “Risk management for translators and interpreters” on a monthly basis. This training session enumerates and explains risk management procedures that translators and interpreters should follow as part of their everyday professional activities. The schedule for these webinars is available here.
Regardless of the number of years a service provider or an outsourcer has been in the translation industry, risks are everywhere when doing business. However, the above-listed resources and tools have been made available by ProZ.com to promote not just professional practices, but also clear and concise information on the steps that should be taken to avoid risks when participating in the language industry. If you have any questions about these tools and resources, or if you need assistance with using them, contact site staff through the support center.
The ProZ.com Certified PRO Network is an initiative of the ProZ.com community to provide qualified translators and translation companies with an opportunity to network and collaborate in an environment consisting entirely of screened professionals.
Until now, PRO certification was only possible in one language pair. However, as announced here, since January 23, 2012, members of the Certified PRO Network are invited to submit their applications for certification in a second language pair (certification in more than two language pairs will be possible at some point in the future).
Initially, the screening process seeks to establish that an applicant meets or exceeds certain minimum professional standards in three screening areas: translation ability, business reliability and “online citizenship”. Since only site members who are already members of the Certified PRO Network are allowed to apply for certification in a second language pair, only translation ability is screened in this second phase (business reliability and “online citizenship” having been confirmed during the screening process for a first language pair).
These are the requirements to apply for PRO certification in a second language pair:
- Site members must be members of the Certified PRO Network already.
- A new application must be submitted, but containing only information on translation ability (sample translation in second pair, credentials, references, etc.).
- Willingness to keep on networking and collaborating in an environment consisting entirely of screened professionals.
To apply for inclusion into the Certified PRO Network or, if you are already a member, to apply for certification in a second language pair, complete your application with as much information as you can and submit it for review. The screening process may take up to 30 days.
More information on the ProZ.com Certified PRO Network is available here.
Looking forward to new applications!
This Translator T.O. guest blogger post is by member Véronica Coquard. Véronica and colleague Cornelia Buttmann-Scholl have released a new bilingual translation-related blog, Vers d’autres horizons… (you’ll find the link in the blogroll on the right as well). The following post about rates, responding to job calls and looking at both sides of the service provider – client equation is reproduced here courtesy of Véronica and Cornelia, and can be seen on Vers d’autres horizons… in both English and French:
(This article began as a post to a colleague on ProZ.com, who wrote:
“I am a very experienced translator. In December, due to the loss of a major client, I decided to go Pro in this website. I apply to jobs every single day. At first, I cut my tariff in 25%, now it’s less than half, and yet, nothing.
…Anyone out there is getting jobs through this website that are [sic] fairly paid? Or are you a member for different reason, for the sense of community, etc?
I appreciate the time and effort of mods and Proz people, but I am mostly interested in knowing other members’ experiences!”
…And, thanks to a little encouragement from Jared at ProZ.com, it grew from there.)
As a translator, I have replied to countless jobs, on ProZ.com and elsewhere (well, I suppose I could count them, as I keep a file of them. But I digress). Statistically I only get a positive reply maybe one out of forty times. But recently, I had an experience “on the other side” that will influence my choices in the future.
You see, recently, I was offered a big job by a direct client, who probably sent the tender notice out to a few agencies as well as to me, as I had called on them recently proposing that they compare my services to their current agency. I am not an agency, but a freelancer; but since I was entering into competition with at least one agency, I would have to find two other reliable translators to adapt the text into German and Dutch while I translated it into English. So, putting myself in the position of a project manager, I posted the offer on ProZ.com. By looking at recruitment from the PM’s standpoint, not only did I get a slew of replies; I also learned some valuable lessons that I will be putting to use the next time I reply to a job offer.
First of all, I wasn’t looking for the lowest rates; the most important thing for me was to find someone I could count on doing the job properly and on time. (I, too, have had people insist that I lower my rates, but they can insist all they like; I’m the boss of me.) All of the translators who replied to my offer were within the price range that I had cited, and many were below. I did not reply to the lower bidders, but then I did not really take the price range into consideration. In my offer I had asked my potential partners to align with my middle-of-the-range prices, and the crushing majority did just that (by the way, when I say middle-of-the-range, I am talking about rates that allow one to live an ordinary life in a developed country). However, the list of replies was long, so I had to narrow down the choices. Here is what I did.
ProZ.com offers its job posters the option of gathering replies through an on-line application form. I opted for this choice, and was glad I did. Instead of having to sort through my e-mails for replies, the applications were sorted for me. As their messages came pouring in, those who had followed the instructions were to be found through the link to my offer, neatly stacked up in chronological order and in the category of the language they were offering. Those who had not followed the instructions, who had simply contacted me by e-mail, were not on the list. It would have taken an extra effort on my part to include them, printing out various messages to compare them with those on my handy list. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t make that effort. Now, obviously, not all job posters use this system; as freelancers we are often asked to reply by e-mail or through the on-line forms of various agencies. The key here is to reply using the method requested by the client, which might simply save you from not being included on the list of people considered for the job.
When I followed the link to see the replies, I noticed that the page began with a succinct list of the applicants and their most basic information, such as their avatar and a link to their profile, along with the subject line of their message. Below that, there is a longer version of the list, including the text of their messages and their attachments in the same order. This explains why, when you are writing your message subject to apply for a job on ProZ.com, there is a little note alongside the form to help remind you to write something memorable. I hadn’t realized until that day that the subject line is also the heading of each applicant’s place on the shorter list. What you decide to write in that space really can help you stand out. (I’m the first to admit having produced such boring headings like “FR >EN translations”. I should have realized, and expressed in no uncertain terms, that I’m much more interesting than that!) To begin studying the some fifty applications that I received, I printed out the short (subject-line) list, ticking off people as I went along. So it is important to make your subject line specific and eye-catching, summing up in a few words why you are better than the competition, for this job (I’ll get back to that in a moment).
I had posted the offer in French. Now it may sound rash, but I began by throwing out any replies that were not in French. The lesson is: always reply in the language that the job is posted in. At least half of my applicants replied to me in English, but I wanted to get an idea of their level of French by reading their replies. In my case, I didn’t particularly care to know their level of English, as that’s my part of the job; and I trust that they are good in their respective native languages. Also, I had so many worthy replies in French that I didn’t bother going out of my way to request a French version of the application even from the English-speaking people who sounded quite competent.
After eliminating those who were speaking to me in languages other than French, I narrowed it down to those who had sent a well-written reply, and I must say that a few of them had me balking. You needn’t translate into a language other than your native, but if you are offering language services, you should at least be able to write a decent note in your source language. It’s also worth taking a bit of extra time to polish your message and subject line, running them through spellcheck and proofreading them (and if you’re really bad in your source language, may I somewhat cheekily suggest that you go looking for a job elsewhere). Note that the order of the replies did not really influence me in my choice; this is why I talk about taking a moment to verify your words. After all, the message you send out is the first (and might be the last) sample of your writing that the contractor will have to judge you by. Anyone who sent me a sloppy message (with typos or weirdly cobbled phrasing) was out. Again, I was spoiled for choice, and didn’t have to settle for slackness.
A few of the applicants piqued my interest because in their few short, well-turned sentences, I could detect that they had style. As writers, we must be aware of the powerful choices that we make when using words, although we mustn’t allow ourselves to become overwhelmed with the possibilities. My suggestion would be to tend toward subtle originality. The key word here is subtle: as much as it is important to stand out, don’t go so far as to make yourself ridiculous or even too casual. The “I’m-a-riot-to-work-with” approach might get you attention, but it doesn’t go far in reassuring your client that you are reliable. Likewise, in French we have a formal and informal form of address, and I didn’t much appreciate being addressed in the informal way; it just didn’t seem businesslike. The same goes for those who used smileys; for me, smileys are reserved for friendly exchanges, and not when you are looking to impress. You shouldn’t need them to express your politeness; courtesy and respect for your client should shine through in every aspect of your text.
After these qualities, personalization proved to be a big factor in my decision-making. I was just naturally attracted to the people who had personalized their note. Those who had taken the time to look at my name (and spell it correctly) got points in my book. These were generally the people who understood what I was asking for, and who adapted their message in kind, instead of just copy-pasting a generic “cover letter” blurb (and again, I’ve done this plenty of times).
The smart ones listed any past experience specifically relevant to the job. Again, my priority was to find someone dependable, and it’s just safer to go with someone who has had similar types of experience. I can already hear some of you wondering where you can possibly begin when you’re new to the craft. In a word, the answer is: use your imagination (and read up on ProZ.com forums where there are dozens of ideas for plumping up your experience, such as pro bono work). You must have some kind of professional experience, even if it was prior to translation, and you can expand on that – without exaggerating your qualifications – to make it clear to your potential client that the subject interests you in some way. Be specific.
Likewise, a great many people who replied to me cited experience that had nothing to do with the job I was offering. I did not penalize them for this purposely, but it did leave me feeling a bit chilly toward them. I suppose I got the impression that not only they didn’t have any relevant experience, but that their experience was limited in general, which may or may not be the case. Anyway, the subject of the job you are applying for is the only kind of experience that the client is looking for, so talk about your experiences in that matter, and let the rest of your impressive feats be fascinating surprises for the client perusing your CV.
Most of my better applicants thought to attach a CV, although I hadn’t mentioned it, and, although I didn’t really plan it in advance, I printed out the CVs of my ever-narrowing selection of translators to make my final choice. I didn’t look at the CVs too carefully, but again, I made sure that there was something there that reflected the specialization I was looking for. It might be taking it too far to suggest that you should personalize your CV to every job offer, but it might be worth it to create several CVs, keeping the main points the same while providing more detailed information on the various main specialty fields that you develop for each corresponding CV. This will allow you to choose the CV that is the most appropriate for each job you reply to. The language of your CV, of course, should be the same as for your message.
In the experience that I am recounting, the CVs made for a handy one-page printout upon which I could make notes as I perused profiles and websites (yes, one page is enough to get an idea of your professional history; any more means your client will have to rummage through his or her drawer looking for a stapler, possibly discovering that he or she is out of staples, and putting him or her in a foul mood). By the way, I have also helped recruit team members in my past life as a tourist board director, and the one-page CV seems a universally good idea. Often, when scanning documents to be sent to other decision-makers, HR people will only bother to scan the first page anyway. So shrink it down, folks.
Many of my applicants – and this was especially penalizing for those who didn’t think to include a CV – forgot to sign their messages with their contact information. Occasionally I found myself having to click several times to get that information. So put your contact information all over the place, so that the impatient person looking for it will find it and won’t skip over you to the next person who thought to include theirs.
To contact the translators that I chose, I called them. Now, it’s not very kind of me, but I admit that I hung up when I got an answering machine. In spite of my ruthless eliminating, I still had a lot of competent translators on my list, and I didn’t want to leave a message with one, only to call another and perhaps give the second one a false hope, only to have the first one call me back… You get the picture. Impatience strikes again. I’m not proud of it, but I’m telling you this because I’m sure that the same thing happens to agencies and other clients.
The way it turned out, I had to call several people for the Dutch translation, and I came to the bottom of my narrowed-down pile of CVs; I therefore backtracked and printed out the contact pages of websites advertised on various offers, which proved almost as handy as a CV. It doesn’t hurt to have a website. Again, make sure that your contact information is visible on every page.
So after this experience, as I return to the land of those selling their services, I am sure that from now on I will reply differently to jobs. It’s been an awakening, because when I’m on our side of the line, I am not a lazy, hard-hearted person. However, as soon as I found myself in the position of power, I was struck with a case of the I-can’t-be-bothereds. Your client is probably a good person, but he or she might also come down with that syndrome when reading applications. So make it easy for that person to care about you.
Follow my mantra: I will only reply to offers where I have some kind of relative experience, I will personalize my reply and cite that experience, I will include my contact information and a CV to make it easier for the client to reach me. And I will keep trying, every day that I don’t have work to do!
You see, now, there’s no need to lower your rates!
Thanks to Véronica for this contribution! Looking forward to more insightful posts from Vers d’autres horizons…
Has anyone had similar experiences? Does the way you reply to jobs differ from what you would expect if you were seeking translators?
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Early this week an ongoing scam using the impersonation of real translators and the emulation of their emails as a point of contact was reported.
This scam appears to take the form of an email “sent” from the real translator to other translators, using the real translator’s name and possibly data to lend credit to the sender, such as links to the translator’s website, etc. The emails appear to the recipient to have been sent from the real translator, with the actual sender’s address (the scammer’s address) “masked” behind this in order to receive any replies.
I copy below the message which has been received by translators using this method:
Hope you get this on time, Am sorry I didn’t inform you about my trip to Spain for a program,I’m presently in Madrid and am having some difficulties here because i misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money and other valuable things were kept.I want you to assist me with a loan of (2,600 Euro = 3,300 Dollars) to sort-out my hotel bills and to get myself back home.
I have spoken to the embassy here but they are not responding to the matter effectively,I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist me with,I’ll refund the money back to you as soon as i return,let me know if you can be of any help.I don’t have a phone where i can be reached.
Please let me know immediately if you can be of help to my situation.
The message itself is classically scam; it is the fact that it appears to be from a fellow translator, perhaps even someone you know or have had contact with before, which can disarm the unsuspecting. If you receive a message similar to the one above, or any email that appears out of the ordinary, from an apparent colleague, please proceed with care.
At the same time, be aware that cases of “email hijacking” can also lead to scam messages like this being sent to your own email contacts (one such case was brought to my attention this week). To protect your email account(s), follow these basic guidelines:
* Use a strong password for your account (consider a mixture of letters (upper and lower-case) and numbers or special characters which is longer than 8 characters.
* Do not use the same password for all of your online accounts.
* Try to avoid sharing your email address on the Internet (the profile email feature is designed to protect against this and avoid the necessity of publishing your address publicly in your profile, for example).
* Use and keep your anti-virus software up to date.
* Make sure your email program or provider has a spam filter, and use it, flagging emails which are spam that are not caught automatically by the filter.
* Never give out your password.
Thanks to Neil Payne at Kwintessential for bringing this next case out, in which both translators and agency are affected when the scammer poses as a legitimate, existing company. I reproduce here a version of the post originally made on Kwintessential’s blog (scroll down for the link to the original posting):
By very good fortune a translation scam using Kwintessential’s name and brand has been exposed by an eagle-eyed translator.
The email was sent to the translator, who shall be called Mr X, requesting information for a large project.
Dear Mr. X
As translation office on the west coast of the US, we are looking for freelance translators in languages: German, French and Spanish.
Our research for translators in the German language has brought up your name again and again. You have been highly recommended by some of our valued customers and colleagues.
We need to request information on your current rates, your fields of expertise (law, merchandising and advertisement needed), words per day translated also a time schedule of your availability for the months of March, April and May 2011.
The project we will be working on, enfolds a value of 80.000 words, was commissioned by a notable US American company.
We will need your documentation not later than March 01.2011.
[Contact information removed from this post]
Emails went back and forth between [the sender] and Mr X with the former potentially placing a large amount of work. It was by good fortune that Mr X was suspicious of the email due to 1) the email being a non-company address (email@example.com) and 2) the misspelling of Kwintessential. Out of prudency Mr X decided to reply and CC’d our USA office whose address was used in the signature. Our Manager in the USA immediately drew our attention to the matter.
It appears the scam works in the following manner: a translation agency wins a contract to carry out a translation job. In order to increase their profit margins they send emails to freelance translators requesting they take on the assignment. The poor translator naturally feels they are in good hands but will eventually come to realize they will never be paid. The scamming agency therefore makes a 100% mark-up. All the translator can do is come to the real Kwintessential who will obviously have no idea of what has happened.
It is extremely unfortunate that people feel they have to carry out their business without principles and ethics. It is these scammers that give us reputable agencies a bad name. On top of this they are taking advantage of the good will of translators who work extremely hard, are true professionals and do not deserve such treatment.
Thankfully Mr X was clever enough to work out the bad intentions of [the scammer]. We have written to [the scammer] but surprise surprise no reply.
Message of the story for translators is always check the credentials of the agency and ensure 100% they are the real deal.
See the original post at Intercultural Communication and Translation News