Translation job checklist – what to ask before accepting a translation job

by OFER TIROSH 30/05/2016

Whether you’re a newbie just starting out on a translation career or a seasoned pro who has been translating for years, it’s always good to brush up on your skills, habits and working practices. In that spirit, Tomedes has put together the ultimate translation job checklist to help ensure you are asking the right questions before accepting each translation job. 

Questions to ask the translation client

We’ll start with the basics – the questions that you need to ask the client who needs the translation undertaken. Regarding the document itself, be sure to ask:

1.    How many words is the translation?
2.    What is the deadline?
3.    What is the subject matter of the content?
4.    Is it a written document or an audio file?
5.    In either case, what format is the document in (Word file, PDF, etc.)?

It’s also a good idea to explore further requirements. For example:

6.    If it’s a website or marketing translation, are localization services required or just straight translation?
7.    Is there a typesetting or desktop publishing element to the job?

The more you can ask the client at this early stage, the better informed you will be regarding what you are taking on and how long it’s likely to take you to complete. 

Be clear about the financial aspects of the translation

Make sure you are clear about the financial elements of the job at this early stage in discussions. You will need to agree a fee with the client and also agree a payment method and timescale. You could also consider asking:

1.    Is this an urgent translation job?
2.    Is a certificate of translation required? 

In both of these cases you should be able to charge an additional fee for the extra or out of hours work, but it is important to be clear on any additional charges and ensure they are acceptable to the client before accepting the job. 

Think about your schedule

You also need to ask yourself a few questions before accepting a new translation job. These should include:

1.    Is the fee acceptable to you?
2.    Can you meet the deadline and still find time to eat, sleep and have a social life?
3.    Could the job lead to more work from this client in the future?

The latter can be a particularly important consideration. The client’s timescale for their initial job may mean you have to work a couple of evenings, but if it leads to regular, ongoing work you may decide it’s worth the sacrifice. Of course you may also decide that giving up your evenings in order to meet a client’s unrealistic deadline sets a dangerous precedent! Either way, you need to be clear with yourself that you can fit the job in and balance the time commitment with your other activities. 

Other considerations

There are other questions to consider, depending on your current workload and cash flow. For example:

1.    Am I interested in the subject of the translation or will it bore me to tears?

Even if the answer is the latter, you might need to take on the job anyway, depending on your current workload and income requirements. But even if that’s the case at least you have a clear understanding of what it is that you are taking on! 

You might also like to consider the client’s background and if he/she comes recommended or not. Again, the answer may not impact your final decision as to whether or not to accept the translation job, but it should at least contribute to your overall level of confidence in accepting the job. Or indeed in turning it down! 

Final thoughts

What other questions do you ask your client – or yourself – before you accept a translation job? Let us know by leaving a comment. 

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