The internet, social media and forums provide plenty of opportunities to find a good translator. But this is often risky, and we end up hiring an amateur.
What should clients consider when searching for a reliable professional? What things should you look out for during the search and the subsequent hiring of translators?
As a first step, always consult existing professional associations if you don’t already know a professional translator yourself. Associations usually have strict criteria about the members they accept, so it’s highly unlikely that anyone looking for a translator through them will end up with an amateur. Should you already know a translator, who for a variety of reasons is unable to help you (because they aren’t specialised in the area and work in another, for example), you could ask them to recommend a colleague.
It’s important to realise that there are a lot of amateurs out there, but that their work will never equal that of a professional. Not only will there be a difference in quality, but an amateur’s approach to deadlines and technical aspects can be less than ideal. These elements are inherent to the translation process and enable the client to distinguish between a professional and an amateur.
Professionals in this field are meticulous about meeting deadlines, bar justifiable exceptions. In addition, technical aspects of the translation should always be considered, analysed and communicated to the client in order to produce a good quality translation. This would never occur to an amateur translator, because at the end of the day their main aim is to finish and invoice the job as soon as possible. These last two points are what separate professional translators from the amateurs. Amateurs accept unrealistic deadlines, will probably use inadequate translation tools — alias Google Translate — with the sole aim of maintaining a constant flow of work that allows them to survive (but not live). A professional, however, knows how much time they will need to do a translation, has the best tools for the job, and will turn it down if they are unable to meet the deadline, because its the quality of their work and their reputation that’s at stake.
An amateur may brag about how much work they can do, even though the end product may suffer, while a professional’s motto is to take pride in producing quality work and deliver on time.