Learning how to vet job offers and prospective clients can be difficult for a new translator: it’s not always easy to know straight off if a job offer or a new client is legitimate, and of course there’s no true way of really knowing. And yes, even very experienced translators can get scammed! And sometimes you can be unsure about a potential client, but once you get over some initial hiccups they turn out to become one of your most loyal clients.
Below we’ve listed some tips on learning to trust your instincts and how to determine whether a job or a client is legitimate.
Check a Translation Industry Client Rating List
Our first piece of advice is very important! Use a translation industry client rating list and check to see if your potential client has been rated. So, first step: check the rating list as soon as you’ve been contacted by a new client: these are invaluable resources for translators, and you’ll generally find that clients who are non-payers will have been rated on these lists. If you don’t yet belong to a translation industry client rating list, check out Payment Practices, and of course there are others.
Ask Your Prospective Client for References
In our opinion, it’s quite acceptable to ask your potential client for references from other translators they may have used in the past; remembering that you should also be prepared to offer the client the same information. Ask the client if they belong to any professional associations for translators. Of course, this doesn’t guarantee legitimacy, but it does indicate that the client is prepared to invest their money and time in joining such an association.
Make Sure You Get All Contact Information
Never accept instructions from a client without first obtaining full contact information from the client: this should include their physical address, email address, and their phone number; and don’t forget to get the full name and contact information of the person who will be handling your account.
Ask for Payment in Advance
Another option is to ask for payment in advance, and this advice is generally for people who don’t really need the work that’s being offered. You might request full or partial payment in advance, but remember that some clients won’t agree to this proposition because they now run the risk of receiving no translation at all or an unacceptable translation. If you’re not prepared to take any risk at all with a new client, then ask them to pay in advance: it can and does happen that a client can disappear after they’ve received the translation and leave no forwarding phone number or address, leaving you high and dry when it comes to payment.
What Does Your Gut Feeling Tell You?
In our opinion, we should all use our intuition a lot more than we do. ‘Trusting our instincts’, ‘having a gut feeling’, and so on: we all get these feelings and sometimes we simply ignore them because they’re going against what we really want to do. But, remember that you’re a professional and your time and effort is worth a lot more than completing a translation for someone who has no intention of paying for your services. Follow the above tips and let the client know that you’re checking rating lists, asking for references, and working out payment terms and conditions upfront. If they’re not prepared for this, they’ll more than likely move on to a more gullible, unsuspecting translator.