By Christian Arno
Lingo24 is always keen to add talented translators to its books, and encourages professionals from all backgrounds to apply through its online application form.
As an established translation company, we already have some 900 carefully vetted freelance translators on our books whose services we use to varying degrees. For our regular clients’ requirements, we generally have the human resources in place, but new combinations of language and industry knowledge are always cropping up, and our favourite freelancers are often in demand from other companies, so it’s important for us to be able to access new talent quickly. Our translator recruitment system helps a great deal with this, as it gives us a repository of prospective new translators that we can dip into when such needs arise. It’s important for translators to understand that it will always take time to ‘get in’ with a translation company, particularly if they have little experience and work between common language combinations. This said, we do have a policy of giving our new recruits small jobs early on – partly to show we’re serious about using their services, and partly to be able to evaluate the quality of their work early on.
The key things we consider (in order of priority) when looking at translators’ vital statistics (!) are:
a) Professional Qualifications/Memberships
b) Areas of genuine expertise
c) Number of years as a freelancer
d) Rates
e) Translation Memory Software ownership/capabilities
f) Country/Timezone
As our marketing spiel goes: “Our translators are all full-time professionals who only ever translate into their mother tongue. Wherever possible, we have our translations carried out ‘in-country’ to ensure current and appropriate use of language.” This means we’d generally have material destined for, say, France, translated and edited by professional linguists based in France.
Young translators do face a real chicken and egg situation when trying to get into our industry. The vast majority of translation companies require you to have extensive experience (most insist on at least two years, we ask for five at present) before they’ll give you paid work. But how can you get this experience? There are two real options: firstly, you could join a large translation company (or a very large company with its own translation department). Lingo24 Translation Services, like other small and medium-sized translation agencies, does not do much translation in-house (only 3 of our 40 employees are full-time translators) and so can’t help with this option (although we have compiled a Guide to Careers in Translation to help languages graduates evaluate their options. (Incidentally, we’re also happy to answer questions linguists may have through Lingo community… But large companies like SDL may have openings, where you can hone your skills under the auspices of experienced translators and editors. The second real option is to launch yourself into the world of translation by offering to do small translations for free. Small companies will probably still ask you to do a test before letting you loose on their material, but if your work impresses, you can be sure they’ll come back for more. As demand for your services increases (I’d suggest you try and set up arrangements like this with 5 or so agencies), you can start charging more and more. It may not be too long before you’re earning a very good salary doing what you love most!