A Client's Guide: How to Vet Freelancers to Ensure Reliability

Hiring a trustworthy and qualified language professional is crucial for the success of your project; but evaluating the reliability of an online freelancer can seem like an impossible task the first time you set out to hire a linguist through the Internet.

Here are six key steps to ensure you find the right candidate:

Use reputable platforms: 

Choose established platforms like ProZ.com or Upwork. At ProZ.com, freelancer profiles indicate whether they have had their identity  verified, and they tell you how long they have been registered on the site. 

You can also search for local or regional Translators Associations, Colleges or Boards, which often have thorough screening processes or exams. 

Check freelancer profiles: 

Review the translator's profile thoroughly. Look for a complete and professional profile, including a clear profile picture, detailed work history, and relevant credentials.

Pay special attention to reviews and ratings: at ProZ.com, clients can rate and review freelancers, leaving a comment and/or a numeric rating reflecting their satisfaction with the translator's work and their professionalism. 

Verify credentials: 

CPN_badge_264x264pxYou can look for the profiles with a red PRO seal to find Certified PROs: freelancers who have gone through a thorough screening process to corroborate that they meet business, professional and linguistic standards.

If specific qualifications are essential, ask for proof of relevant certifications or degrees. On ProZ.com, some translators have their credentials verified by submitting a copy of the original documents to be reviewed by site staff, and this is indicated on their profiles.

Request samples:

At ProZ.com, translators can add both text and video samples to their profile to show the quality of their work. However, some translators will keep more complete portfolios on their personal website, or will only send the samples at your request. 

In some cases, you will judge that you’d prefer to ask freelancers to complete a small test project so you can assess the translator's skills and style. This helps you evaluate their work before committing to a large project, but it’s good practice to restrict these tests to a range of 200-400 words, and some freelancers will have a small base fee for such ‘consultations’. 

Communicate clearly and get your agreement in writing:

Draft a detailed agreement or contract that outlines project scope, deadlines, payment terms, and confidentiality agreements, and make sure both parties agree before starting the project. Most freelancers will already have a 'Purchase Order' (PO) template that they use for this purpose and, if you’re a ProZ.com member —or you’re hiring a ProZ.com member!— you can also use ProZ.com’s Service Agreements tool » 

Once the project has begun, make sure to maintain open and transparent communication throughout. Address any concerns promptly and make your expectations clear; and don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

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Check for red flags and trust your instincts:

Beware of red flags, such as empty and recently created profiles, incomplete or inconsistent information, or a reluctance to provide references. 

It's a good idea to look up the freelancer’s name online —most established language professionals will have an 'online footprint', including not just one or two professional profiles but publications credited to their name, membership in a local association, sometimes a professional website, etc. Ultimately, trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, consider other candidates.

Remember that, while these steps can help you find a trustworthy freelancer, there's always some level of risk involved in hiring a new person, be it online or through your local newspaper's classified ads. Research and due diligence are crucial to minimize that risk and ensure a successful collaboration.

You can learn more about this at ProZ.com’s Risk Management Center »

And, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to submit a support request » 

Topics: risk management, best practices

Andrea Capuselli

Written by Andrea Capuselli

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