I’m always confused when I receive a résumé from a Russian translator claiming he/she has major Russian translation agencies among his/her clients. To me, this kind of name dropping on a client list has always been a red flag. If you’re a great translator working for several big companies, why would you look for another job? Read on to see what I mean exactly.
High-Quality Translators Are in Demand
When I was just starting off in this industry, I worked as a freelancer for a huge Russian translation services company. Because they found my translations quite good, they gave me much more work that I could handle. Later on, they even wanted me to become an editor. This was the first time that I realized that big single-language vendors hold on to good translators because it’s brutally hard to find one. And they hold on to translators by giving them a lot of business. As a result, good translators who work for them don’t have much time to look for other jobs.
The translation agencies we occasionally work with struggle with the same problem, too. Judging by the translations they ask us to review, finding an excellent translator can be next to impossible when their clients’ budgets are limited. Just a few days ago, we revised a translation where a translator couldn’t even follow the project instructions.
Last but not least, a recent survey confirmed that most translation providers feel that translation talent is becoming increasingly scarce.
Reasons to Be Suspicious about Translation Experience
Now, whenever a translator’s résumé says he/she works for some of the major players, I am starting to have doubts. If he/she is so good, why would those agencies let him/her look for work elsewhere instead of making him/her busy with tons of projects they need translated? Here are three reasons I believe to be most common:
- A translator does work a lot for these companies, but he/she is looking for better-paying clients.
- A translator specializes in a field where these companies can’t provide enough work.
- A translator did work for these companies, but they’re no longer happy with his/her work, and his/her workload decreased as a result. I think this is the most common reason.
Whenever a translator says on the résumé that he/she works for a big translation services company, I become skeptical because you’d expect that company to give him/her so much work that he/she wouldn’t need to look for other clients. To clear my doubts, I either ask this translator to clarify why exactly—given such a great background—he/she is looking for work or review his/her résumé and samples more thoroughly because I feel something is wrong here.
Do you agree that big names on a résumé are incongruent with the fact that a translator is looking for a job? You might also like another post about how translators can market their services.