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What Translation Agencies want in a Translator

Competition is fierce among freelance translators nowadays. As more people go into the profession of translation they are all seeking the same jobs with the same translation agencies. Many translators become frustrated at not receiving continuous work from an agency and many can not even get on the books. These 10 tips for freelance translators will give you an idea of what translation agencies are looking for and how to get a relationship started.

1) Applying

Translation agencies receive tens of applications per day from translators. Do not simply send a speculative email stating you want translation work. People are busy and such a lazy approach would be lucky to receive a reply. Make sure you search the website first for information on how to apply. If there is none, send a short email asking for the application process. Make sure you read this carefully.

2) Your details

Translation project managers want quick and easy access to your details. Make sure you highlight your qualifications, experience, rates per 1000 words and always offer two references. It is not uncommon for applicants to forget to add their phone number and email address. Obviously if someone can not contact you, the chances of getting any work are limited.

3) Accept Small Jobs

Smart translation agencies test new translators by sending them small pieces of translation work. This is to check their language skills and reliability. Once they have trust in a translator they will send them bigger and better pieces of work. If a translator takes the attitude that such small jobs are beneath them, a relationship will be hard to develop.

4) Deadlines

Deadlines are crucial for translation agencies. Missing one gives a bad impression to the client and does nothing to encourage them to send you more work in the future. Ensure you examine work thoroughly before offering a deadline to a translation agency or accepting one that has been stipulated. It is better to be open and honest and keep your reputation intact rather than stretch yourself, miss a deadline and ruin your reputation.

5) Communication

Translation agencies prefer translators who communicate with them. This can mean anything from informing them that a translation may be slightly late to giving them insight into problems they faced with the text. For example, if a translation has been carried out from a source text that was either poorly written, did not make sense in places, hard to read or anything else that prevented a top quality translation, this should be explained. The translation agency is then able to pass this on to their client.

6) Format

When a translator is sent a translation, it is expected to be returned in a format that mirrors the original. This is because the chances are that the translation agency and/or client may not understand one of the languages. They therefore need to be able to look at the two documents and easily see what relates to what. Sending a poorly formatted translation leads to frustration for the agency.

7) If you don't know - ask

Translators may often get stuck on a word, a phrase or get confused over something like the layout. It is always better to ask than guess or ignore the issue. By checking you ensure you cover your back and the translation agency's.

8) Invoice promptly

Translation agencies may differ on how they like to be invoiced by their translators. It may be a good idea to check this before sending your first invoice. Ensure the invoice has all your details, the job details (including any reference you have been asked to use), the number words, the rate and the total amount owed. Also include information on how you wish to be paid. Always remember to invoice promptly.

9) Availability

Once you have a decent relationship with an agency it may be a good idea to start a diary of availability. This may simply be sending them an email informing them of the fact you are working on a large job until a particular date or even having a webpage that indicates your availability on certain dates.

10) Be nice!

Translators need to remember that the agency is their client. Many a translator has been dropped from the books for being impolite or simply rude. As a client, the agency needs to be respected and good customer service offered.