Translation and Interpreting in 150+ Languages
Bad Translators Are Like Big Hairy Spiders
March 2, 2012 - By: - In: Translation - Comments Off on Bad Translators Are Like Big Hairy Spiders

A blizzard of bad translator resumes blows across our digital threshold every day, piling up in vast digital drifts in the corners of our mail server, a white-out of ill-disguised incompetence and stupidity.

It’s been a long time since I’ve shoveled through a resume slush pile myself, but in repetition, the half-baked dream of half-educated kids are as disheartening, as the half-dead mice  left by the cat on the back stoop.  Oh, the humanity!

If every New Yorker’s second business is show business, then perhaps every bilingual’s second business is translation too, a fallback career, a deuce up every multilingual sleeve.

I was talking with Dina Rodrigues, the operations chief here at 1-800-Translate, about the percentage of translators we saw who were actually competent to work for us. Dina said, “One out of a hundred, maybe?” Which was always my best guess. I admit that the numbers for those who contact us are skewed towards those who aren’t any good. The busy translators, the good ones, the ones we want, don’t turn up at the back door very often. We have to hunt them down.

Recruitment of translators who work to our standards represents our best shot at hitting our quality goals, which has put us at the head of the quality assurance class (NPS score of 95% in 2011!), so finding the best is mission critical for us.

We’ve been taking a look our recruitment process this quarter, so next time, as part of TranslationGuy Blog’s policy to disclose all of 1-800-Translates proprietary top-secret plans, I’ll show you how we separate the wheat from the chaff. A warning to copycats: it’s a lot easier to talk the talk than walk the walk.

I’d love to hear from translation project  managers on what you think is the good to bad  ratio for the contract translators you find on your door step.

And to all you new translators building your business, I hope you aren’t too sore about the tarantula spider metaphor (you probably think I’m not talking about you, anyway.) The thing that I’ve always loved about the translation business is its entrepreneurial nature, which is the direct result of all the independent business men and women who work on their craft and on building their businesses one project at a time.  And bad translators get better, too.  One of our initiatives for this year is to find ways to help translators visiting our site to grow their business and improve their craft.  Still at the concept stage, but we hope to make some steps in that direction later this year.

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