State of the Translation Industry, are Freelance Interpreters & Translators Maximizing their Exposure?

By Atlas LS

I was fortunate to attend the Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters 7th Annual Conference this past weekend in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  One of the speakers was Nicolas Hartmann, Ph.D., who also happens to be the acting President of the American Translator’s Association.

Dr. Hartmann, presented on the current state of the translation industry from the vantage point of a freelance translator.  This was interesting, our company is a Language Service Provider (LSP) and as such we often don’t consider the impact of our industry on the freelance talent that we so often utilize.  Dr. Hartmann did a wonderful job presenting and reminding the MATI members that they are in essence a business, regardless of size.   As a business, freelance interpreters and translators, regardless of their location can market locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.  I receive at least 25 – 50 resumes per day from interpreters and translators and the majority of those resumes are now coming from abroad.

The World is a Giant Global Market

That got me thinking, do the language professionals based in North America realize that the world is essentially a giant global market?  In our industry we work with international markets and documents on a daily basis and in various aspects, but do the freelance talent that is based in the North American market internationally?  I don’t think they do.  From our vantage point, that being a LSP, we prefer to use translators who are immersed in the local culture of the target audience.  If we are specifically targeting a geographical area, then we focus on a translator or interpreter specifically in that area.  For example, if our client is sending marketing material to Barcelona, Spain we typically prefer to use a native Spanish translator who resides or frequently visits Barcelona.  That is true with most of our other language pairs as well.  Those who are traveling or living in those target geographical areas know the local slang, idioms, colloquialisms, etc.  They are best suited to localize the translation, if need, and to ensure that the finished product is geographically appropriate for that region. The same principal holds true for the United States. There are a many foreign companies marketing the United States that use linguistic talent based in their geographical area, not that of their target market.

There are drawbacks to using linguistic talent based in North America, namely prince, depending upon the language pairs, technicality, length of the project, etc. but in the large scope of things, price should be fairly minor, maybe $.05 – $.10 per word.  Surprisingly this price difference for some clients can break a deal, but it is my opinion, that you always get what you pay for.  It is best to pay a little extra to ensure that your product is represented well and appropriately.

I would encourage North American based linguistic talent to keep a few key points in mind when marketing abroad.

  • Always, include a cover email with your resume attached.
  • Use local currency for your target market.  If you are marketing Europe list your prices in Euros, etc.
  • If your language pairs are English > Spanish and you are marketing a company in an English speaking country, provide your resume in English.  You can always attach the Spanish as well, but make sure your email and text is in the correct language for your target market.
  • Feel free to provide a sample translation, but include both the source and target documents.
  • Include your areas of expertise.
  • Feel free to call the company and speak to the translation manager or person in charge of new vendors.  You may get hung up on, but for those potential clients that do take your call, it may pay off.

Just these few tips will help get your resume read by the correct person and hopefully increase your international marketing and client base.