Why I Won’t Work With Your Translation Agency

Every week I receive a couple of emails from agencies looking for new translators. Some contain interesting and personalized offers. Some are so grossly unprofessional that I just ignore them without reading through. And then, there are… the frustrating ones. The ones that come from agencies that seem to be decent, at least from what I know of them, but show red flags that tell me that no, sadly, that’s not going to work for me. Here is an example I received a few weeks ago:

I am contacting you as we are always on the lookout for the best translation professionals. Therefore I would be happy to invite you to complete the attached translation test (EN to FR) and send it back to me within 1 week (please let me know if you are not available now and need more time). Please read the instructions in the document carefully.

In order to include you in our database of collaborators we kindly ask you also to fill in the following form.

Please confirm safe receipt.

Thank you!

So, tell me, what is so wrong here?

To put it simple: everything about it is just too pushy. I’ve never contacted that agency. They reached out because they claim to be looking for the best translators. That’s nice of them to see me as a candidate for that title, but I haven’t asked for anything at this point, and definitely not to:

  • Take their translation test. I think the phrasing is what really annoyed me here. You don’t “invite” people to work for free. You don’t give them instructions and deadlines when they haven’t said they were willing to do it. I don’t do translation tests anymore. I see no reason why an established translator would have to. Good luck if you truly are to recruit the “best translation professionals” from there. By the way, the thing was a 500-word, 2-part test. At least try to keep the word count closer to 300 words…
  • Fill their form. OK, first, I hate filling forms. Second, why would I do that at this point? I haven’t even expressed interest yet. We haven’t discussed rates and I haven’t taken your test (nor will I but that’s not the point). So why would I waste my time filling a form that may well end up in the trash minutes after?

Asking so much from someone you haven’t had any interaction with at this point is just rude. Most of all, I hate the underlying assumptions: no, translators, especially established ones, can’t be expected to send you free translations and fill your forms at will. That sort of attitude is an immediate red flag for me. I know what most likely comes after: standard procedures, discount grids, project management platforms, forced used of such or such tool, database updates, more forms. Thanks, but no thanks.

You want to work with the best translators? Maybe start treating them as the professionals they are, and not as mere “resources” you can just pick up whenever you want.