Professional translation is an art that demands skilled translators. Being a native speaker in the source/target language and good skills in one more language is not enough.
Here is a list of what you shouldn’t be doing as a translator
1. Have no experience
This is very crucial since most clients really look for experience. They want to make sure that they are dealing with someone who can give them quality work. Another reason is, when translators don’t have enough experience, they don’t really have a basis on what they need to do for a translation project. Having relevant experience can be helpful. However, try not to use the same methods or techniques over and again as they might spoil your ideas for new projects. Be creative, be open to new ideas, and earn more experience from different clients for you to brag about on your CV.
2. Be lazy
Most clients give deadlines on when they want the project to submitted. Most of them are quite strict about their deadlines. So never, ever be lazy. When you promise to finish something on a specific date, try your very best to keep it. Some translators also slack off when they are not working on something instead of practicing their skills or trying out new CAT tools. On your free time, try to enhance your translation skills. It will not only prepare you for future clients, you can also put your spare time into good use.
3. Have no resources
Yes, you can be a really good translator. However, you cannot work without resources no matter how much you think you have mastered the art of translation. Some translators feel that they can translate from just their experience and vocabulary, and they ignore simple tools like dictionaries or reference materials. This is a big no. Have all the resources you need to make the job easier and more efficient for you. You may not need them for the translation itself, but at least have resources for proofreading your work.
4. Have poor communication with clients
Not checking your email, not being attentive to your phone, or not logging in to your job sites are some of the things you shouldn’t do when you are working on a project. Not keeping your communication open with your client will give them a sense of unprofessionalism and when this happens you can expect for them to look for another translator for their next project. Take some time to communicate with your client and keep them updated with your work progress. Let them know if there would be some delays or if you have some queries about your work.
5. Establish a bad reputation
The last four points will lead to you getting a bad reputation. Having a bad reputation will lead to zero clients. Unhappy clients result to bad comments or negative reviews for you that can be visible to other potential clients in the future. Having a bad reputation can also get you black listed on platforms such a Proz and Linkedin and can be the topic of discussion on translator forums. Take care of your reputation.
6. Expecting more
Translators, no matter how experienced they are, cannot expect big projects all the time. There are some clients out there that are not really willing to pay you more just because of what you have written on your resume especially when you are working for an agency or just starting out as a freelance translator. Give them at least a trial project, or work on a smaller project first and then establish a level of trust that would eventually lead to more, and maybe bigger, projects in the future. Being patient is the key that leads to success in the translator industry.
7. Be unqualified
Some people think that being a translator is easy. You just need to know two languages and you’re ready to take on a translation project. Some even think that you don’t need to be qualified to be a translator, you just need to have a low rate and high accuracy and you’re ready to go. Being bi-lingual or having a lower rate than others doesn’t instantly make you a translator. Translators are skilled professionals that are qualified in accurately expressing someone else’s thoughts or ideas into a different language.
8. Lack of specialization
Check out the job portals for translation and you could see a slew of options out there – Automobile, IT, marketing, health, education etc. You should always try to specialize in any of the niches – the niches in which you are most comfortable and which have good scope. Focusing on a single niche and working on all niches can harm your career. Go for 4-5 niches in translation as the best practice. If you opt for technical translation, you could expect hefty pay package. If you wish to flourish your career in technical niche, it would be better to gain some technical knowledge to translate the content effectively.
9. Lack of client focus
Some of the translators fail on creating and retaining good relationships with their clients. Always bear this thought in your mind; you are not irreplaceable. You should try to maintain a professional relationship with the client. Always try to learn the requirements of the client. If you have any queries, feel free to ask the client at the beginning itself. If you deliver work that is not aligned with the requirement, it could hamper the work relationship.
10. Lack of education and certification
Taking a certification in translation would increase the odds of your selection. If you have taken any certification, mention it to the clients and display it proudly in your portfolio. Certification denotes that you are serious in the career.