Answers to frequently asked questions of applicants

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Why should I take a test? I have a diploma / references / translation samples

The abovementioned means absolutely nothing to us. Unfortunately, times are not easy for our educational system and a diploma cannot prove a person is suitably qualified any more. Somebody else may edit the translation samples, and as for the references, they are only relevant if we know the referees had quality requirements similar to ours—in other words, if they are one of our direct competitors or customers. That's why a test translation is often the only way to check an applicant’s skills.

Why does it take so long to review my test?

We try to review the tests as fast as possible; however, it may take up to two weeks. The review itself does not take much time. However, the employee who reviews the test may be busy with other tasks. They may only have a certain day or time allocated for reviewing multiple tests. Subsequently, some tests are reviewed the same day while others may take more than a week.

In any case, we notify the applicant about the results. If more than two weeks have passed since the test was sent and you have not received feedback on your translation, please make sure we know about it.

Why don't you provide a detailed feedback on the test?

This is mainly due to a lack of time. It takes about 30 minutes to compose a detailed feedback on the test of one applicant. This is way too long considering that there are often dozens of tests. If we provided feedback on each and every test, we would not have time to review all the test translations. We can only say that not following the instructions highlighted in red at the beginning of a test is the main reason applicant’s fail. A lack of seriousness about the test task itself may be another reason.

Perhaps some people think that such an approach is non-transparent and therefore gives cause to doubt the objectiveness of a review. Nonetheless, a translation agency is not a university whereby a professor may try to fail a student. On the contrary, we, as a company, are very interested in the test being passed by as many applicants as possible, as this will allow us to fulfill more orders. However, we cannot compromise on the level of quality assurance that translation tests provide, by allowing that level to fall below the requirements and expectations of our customers. Please believe that we are sincerely glad when applicants submit good test translations, as they are rather rare things, and we are constantly in great need of highly skilled personnel. The volume of orders is rising much faster than we can find translators who match our customers’ requirements.

There are enough very good translations among the failed tests; they were only an inch away from the required level.

Perhaps you actually give a real translation under the guise of a test?

This is a widespread phobia. Nevertheless, all those who work professionally with translations will confirm that such an approach is ridiculous. If a text is pasted together from fragments that have been translated by different (unchecked) translators, it will not work. Translators will translate in their own way, and an editor will have to spend a lot of time to bring them together. Add to this the costs for a paid vacancy, time for reviewing CV’s, etc., and you will see that it is much cheaper and safer to pay a trusted translator, than to try and get it for free in such a complicated way.

In addition, all the applicants are sent the same test. You can check this by applying on behalf of a dozen fictional people. You will receive the same text for translation. This is one more confirmation of the absurdity of a hypothesis about gratuitous translations. To send a translation to dozens of people and then select the best one to send to the customer would be much more expensive than to translate it on our own.

I have passed the test and been notified about it. Why don’t I receive orders?

We can only provide a guaranteed amount of work to our full-time employees who work in the office. If a translator prefers not to bind him or herself with such obligations, then we, on our part, also do not undertake to provide them with work all the time. Freelancing is freedom and the possibility to work with several customers. However, the other side of this coin is an unpredictable workload.

We have freelancers who we constantly provide with work and who our managers very much compete to cooperate with. Conversely, there are freelancers who wait weeks and months for their first work. Why does this happen?

The most difficult aspect for a freelance translator is to receive their first few jobs. Managers are very cautious about new freelancers and have to be both persuaded and convinced to give anyone their first job. However, if a new translator fulfills several jobs, all with positive feedback, then their workload can increase drastically.

Nonetheless, the question of those initial jobs remains pertinent. How can a freelancer get them? What are the principles our managers are governed by, in selecting a new translator from a dozen of available ones? Why are some freelancers contacted immediately while others wait for months? Let’s consider the following reasons:

  1. Availability. Our managers prefer to work with a translator who is available the entire day, and who is willing to take much work. They are reluctant to collaborate with translators who can only allocate a couple of hours a day for work. It is better to entrust a job to one translator, rather than divide it among several translators. In addition, a text translated by different translators is a lot more difficult to edit, resulting in additional costs. As a result, freelancers who are willing to devote their entire day to working with us have more chances. In general though, the most successful freelancers do not have a permanent job; they just fulfill orders for one or several customers. It is their main job, not a second job. When you start working with us, first you have much to learn and it is going to take some time.
  2. Knowledge of translation software. We practically do not have any translations that have to be made in applications like Word, Excel, etc. Every task has to be fulfilled in specialized applications such as Trados, LocStudio, Helium, Translation Workspace, etc. (there are more than 20 of them). Therefore, if a translator is not proficient in these types of software, their manager has to help them master it, and solve any technical issues that may arise in the process of installing and working with it. Unfortunately, our managers have very little time for this and will instead select a translator who is already proficient in the respective software. Additionally, if a manager sees that a freelance translator only works in the evenings, there are even fewer possibilities for being taught the software.
  3. Communication. It is very important for a freelancer to be constantly available and react rapidly to translation requests. If a translator does not answer calls and it takes them ages to reply to an e-mail, it becomes extremely inconvenient to work with them.
  4. Related background. If a manager has a project from Google, he will assign it primarily to the translators who work with this, or related subjects.
  5. Availability of orders. Translation agencies have a rather unstable workload. There are often quiet periods followed by a hectic rush. Because of this, only translators with the highest rating are provided with work during quiet periods, while managers have to take risks with new recruits during the very busy periods. It is often the case that a manager, being pleasantly surprised by a new translator’s quality of work, starts assigning them projects more often.
  6. Motivation. If you are not being sent translation jobs, don’t be shy about reminding an agency of your availability at least once a month. Such prompts show that you are interested and stimulate managers to assign you your first translation job, regardless. The future depends on the results…

One regrettable but significant fact is that in approximately 30% of all cases, we have to terminate our cooperation with a translator while either attempting to assign them their first job, or after they have completed it.

The principal reason for this is that a translator can’t always cope with the technical issues involved and is afraid of them. For example, they can’t install an application correctly that they need to work. Afterwards, he or she says that they don’t work using this application, or they promise to solve the issue. However, weeks pass and they do not inform the agency of their attempts to resolve the situation, which implies either weak technical skills or a simple lack of motivation to work with us.


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