This December 30 at 12 PM GMT, ProZ.com will be having its first virtual job fair, where Plus subscribers will be able to network with over 25 businesses' representatives and give them their CV or ProZ.com profile links.
As a way to prepare for the job fair, we asked some of them about their mission and some DO's and DON'Ts for freelancers when applying to projects. Keep on reading for their answers!
- What's your name, what company do you work for and how long have you been working for the company?
Ali Saad: I’m Ali Saad. I founded officially my own translation agency, Ali Saad Agency for Translation Services, in 2015. I’ve been an English<>Arabic linguist since 2010.
İlkan Bilgin: My name is İlkan Bilgin and I am a Vendor Manager at HeliCo Translation. Although it was back in 2016 when I started working at HeliCo Translation’s projects, I took on my current role as a Vendor Manager almost a year ago when the company went through a transformation process and started splitting roles clearly.
Marija Kozjak: My name is Marija Kozjak and I have been a part of VERBA CENTAR d.o.o. as Vendor Manager for more than two years now.
Gabriela Lemoine: My name is Gabriela Lemoine, I am the founder and former director of HLA Translations (formerly Hispano Language Advisory), and I started this company in 2006. At the moment I am in charge of expanding the company to the US and the UK.
- What's your company's mission?
Ali Saad: My agency’s mission is my slogan “Translators As Cultural Bridges”. We, translators, want to build cultural bridges between nations.
İlkan Bilgin: On our side, we know that we have the right tools that differentiates us immensely in our services. I can name some of them as having a solid recruitment process, first and foremost giving importance to quality of our services, having additional processes to maintain it, having a team of highly competent people in the industry, and having set-goals for the company’s future. We just need to spread our voice to the world and to those who need our services.
Marija Kozjak: “We don’t simply translate words, we convey ideas” - we know this is a frequently used phrase in the translation industry, but VERBA believes it is as simple as that. We find satisfaction in adapting our client’s message to the target audience and market. And even more, we enjoy taking on these challenges with our team of translators, who we consider our partners.
Gabriela Lemoine: We are an ISO 9001:2015-certified content internationalisation company. Since 2006, we have been helping clients in 13 countries on 3 continents communicate more effectively in foreign markets and with their off-shore departments. We provide translated content in different languages that is ready to release, without delays. Our clients choose us for "our unique ability to produce exactly what is asked for, regardless of the level of difficulty." HLA has evolved to offer integrated subtitling and dubbing services, copy and technical writing, text review, multimedia design, language interpreting, script adaptation and transcreation.
- What sets your company apart?
Ali Saad: According to my clients’ testimonials, what makes my agency unique is my flexible communication, quick response, understanding and meeting our clients’ needs they don’t express, and even focusing on the details they don’t think about.
İlkan Bilgin: We have the most visionary and passionate people in our team, and we value each and every translator, interpreter, transcriptionist, voice-over artist, and content creator in our in-house and freelance team. We also make them realize this with our actions (helping them when they have any problems, prompt payments, etc.). In return, we expect them to value our projects which they take part in. Not surprisingly, they do. This strengthens our hands as a team and when we unite under a specific project, we come up with high-quality outcomes.
Marija Kozjak: VERBA greatly values feedback from our translators and we strive to implement every constructive criticism and advice we receive from them. We try to keep an honest and open relationship with our partners and we actively work on making the conditions of our collaboration better every year. We invest a lot of time and energy in creating educational materials and client-based instructions for our translators, as well as feedback after the projects, because we rely on them as if they were a part of our in-house team. We like to say that they can “come to us with anything and everything” and we will try to resolve the situation to mutual satisfaction.
Gabriela Lemoine: We developed a quality system based on 3 pillars: recruitment, training and ongoing monitoring. All these processes are linked together through software tools we created to manage teams of linguists: a tool for profiling, an e-learning platform, and a quality control programme and tool that feeds the other 2 systems.
- Can you talk a little bit about your recruitment processes?
Ali Saad: I select my linguistic vendors as per the ISO 17100 standard. For urgent jobs, the ProZ.com job posting is my first choice. When searching new qualified linguists, ProZ.com's new tool, ProZ Find, is great. Then we ask the new linguists to register in the vendor portal of our TBMS (Protemos) after answering our linguistic assessment tests and signing an NDA.
İlkan Bilgin: Basically, we follow the best practices known in the industry. We can constantly accept applications through our website, on which you can feel free to check the career page (https://helico.com.tr/en/kariyer). We also go for a look for specific talents with our job postings or via direct messages on ProZ.com. When we receive applications, we make sure to check all points in our checklists for a specific talent requirement. That’s the first step of our elimination. Then, we get in contact with them and ask them some specific questions for that requirement. Afterwards, we ask them to take some tests (test translations or some other tests) and choose the ones who get to pass the score threshold we have after an LQA process if that’s a test translation. The first five assignments are generally smaller. We still check if those who come to that point pay attention to work ethics such as timely deliveries, instruction compliance, etc. The rest is about improving them with constant feedback.
Marija Kozjak: VERBA has worked a lot on improving our recruitment process over the past year. One of these improvements is developing a special application form that can be found on our website and that each translator can fill out and send in with their CV.
The next step is to get confirmation from us about the received application and a small overview of the possibility to work with us - this feedback heavily depends on the language combinations and CAT tool knowledge the translator works with.
The translator then gets assigned a test project and after delivery we provide them with extensive feedback and information on the possibility of further collaboration.
Gabriela Lemoine: We recruit translators that live in the target countries for the languages they translate into, and have a translation diploma. When we start a search for specific skills, we'll ask translators to sign the NDA and then we give them access to our training platform. There will be basic tools and content we need them to learn, but we can also add courses or create topic-specific courses if needed. Suggestions on new courses to take come from the quality assessments or our clients' evolving needs. The courses are free for translators that work with us regularly. While we prefer to offer translators work in the subject matter they specialise in or are interested in, we encourage them to invest the time to learn how to work in new domains as it will help them have a wider range of skills, and in turn that means they can work for more clients.
- What are the DO's and DON'Ts when applying for a project with your company?
✔️Read the project’s details carefully before applying for, including deadline, target language locale, certain qualifications required, etc.
✔️Apply via the channel specified only.
✔️Contact the concerned person only.
✔️Translate a sample provided if it’s a must.
❌Don’t apply for a project where you aren’t qualified.
❌Don’t apply more than one time.
❌Don’t contact in a language the client may not understand. It isn’t reasonable to contact a native French client in Arabic.
The same DO's and DON'Ts can apply to the translation companies with their partners/end clients. Once again, focusing on the details is a secret of the success of the professional language services providers.
İlkan Bilgin: What we need is to get complete replies without missing information to our questions so that we don’t have to get back to those applicants to ask if they meet some job-associated requirements. At the end of the day, my job consists of sometimes going through hundreds of applications and it is always a pleasure to see well-prepared applications with all the information I need. Also, professionally-prepared, sleek-looking CVs showing past experiences and a cover letter are always a plus. No need to tell you about the DON’Ts, as I can just recommend applicants not do the contrary.
Marija Kozjak: If a translator is applying for a specific project, two big DO’s are providing us with an extensive CV with relevant references and projects, as well as a fully completed application form, where they give us an overview of the CAT tool knowledge, general rates, specializations and other important information.
A big DON’T is applying for a specific project without any experience in the field. Translators should be aware that while agencies are willing to give them an opportunity to work on a project in the domain they do not necessarily specialize in, they are usually willing to do so only with translators they already have an established and successful partnership with. You will rarely be assigned a project using the “willing to try” application.
✔️DO's: be proactive, anticipate, ask questions, show interest and urgency, show commitment.
❌DON'Ts: don't make assumptions, don't ignore issues or potential issues, don't delay, don't overestimate or underestimate your own capacity, never get overconfident.
- What are some common mistakes freelancers make when contacting you and what advice can you give them?
Ali Saad: I can brief the common mistakes freelancers make in the following points:
1. Writing non-professional emails including blank subject, missed attachments, blank email body, or typos.
2. Many freelancers don’t follow registration instructions completely.
3. Dealing as an employee, not a freelancer.
My advice is to:
- Learn professional email writing.
- Proofread your message/email before sending.
- Be a positive perfectionist.
- Deal as a linguistic vendor providing your services for your clients, not employers. You’re a freelance service provider, not a traditional employee.
İlkan Bilgin: To be precise in my answer to this question, common mistakes would be to miss mentioning some important information such as your education background, your past experiences, mother language and language pairs as well as your rates. All these five points are what I look for at the very beginning and then, I dive into more details such as diplomas, nationalities, samples of work, etc. So, representing yourself in the best way possible in your application would be the best thing to do. At the end, you are showcasing your work and the way you do it also indicates your level of competence and professionalism.
Marija Kozjak: We try to go through everything. In order to make this process easier and more thorough, we have introduced an application form that we send out to the translators when they contact us. What we have noticed is that some translators try to give a lot of generalized information in their application without specifying their specializations and rates, for example. Since Vendor Managers always deal with a great number of applicants, we appreciate when the application is as specific as it can be. The information you provide during the application process is not something you should make pretty; it should be as specific and accurate as possible. That increases the chances of being contacted for a project you will excel in and decreases the chances you are contacted regarding a project that is below your expected rate and not in the domain in which you feel comfortable working.
If someone is contacting us for the first time through ProZ.com, we get introductory emails that are too long, or they copied and pasted the entire resume in the email. When replying to a job offer, many times the answers don't include all the information we requested, such as rates or productivity levels, and we just can't assess those applicants. Also when replying to a specific job offer, the cover letter usually is too broad, not tailored to the application in question. If we approach someone directly with a private message, it's nice to get a reply even to decline the job offer when they are not available. That's better than just silence.
In emails, in the introduction or cover letter, only mention your native language/s, the target languages you are really proficient in, the services offered and CAT tools. There's no need to include how you gained your experience or knowledge in the cover email (this will be visible in the resume). The resume should be personal, perhaps including personal branding and a logo. Do not use a resume design template from LinkedIn or Europass or Microsoft, as they might be mistaken for a scam. Always include your current working email. Always provide a phone number to reach you in case time is of the essence. Be responsive, even if it is to thank and decline the job opportunity. If you provide a webpage, make sure the hosting is active. If you resort to a webpage through templates (e.g. WIX) make sure it looks professional and sophisticated but please do include other information, do not copy and paste your CV.
We hope that you found these insights useful and that their advice will help you when you are applying for your next project. Are you looking forward to meeting Ali, İlkan, Marija, and Gabriela?
Have any questions about the job fair? Contact ProZ.com site staff »