Translation is not the only industry where unpaid testing occurs – even though in some cases it’s not referred to as such.
Unpaid Testing Occurs in Other Industries Too
Some translation agencies are on the receiving end of many unsolicited applications and resumes and, from their point of view, it’s much easier for them to advise the applicant that the next step in their employment process is to complete the translation test and return it to them: this step would most likely result in many candidates losing interest. We must also remember that translation is not the only industry where unpaid testing occurs – even though in some cases it’s not referred to as such. Most of us at one time or another have conducted our own unpaid tests, whether it be an accountant, a doctor, a financial planner, a lawyer, and so on: many of these professionals offer a complimentary consultation before you’re required to commit to using their services.
Should Unpaid Translation Tests Be a ‘Cost of Doing Business’
In a perfect world, translation companies would consider paid translation tests as simply another cost of doing business, just as they view recruiting, and hiring and training in-house employees as a cost of doing business. However, in our opinion, translators should have guidelines to follow on how and when they submit themselves to unpaid translation tests.
Advice for Translators on Unpaid Tests
Prior to taking on unpaid translation test, ask your potential client to confirm the following –
- If you’ve provided a rate sheet to the agency, asked them to confirm that your rates are within the range that they pay for your language combination; and
- Ask the agency to confirm that they either anticipate having or currently have, a need for additional translators in your language combination.
Perhaps the test shouldn’t be taken if the agency is unable to confirm the above two points. Of course, it depends on what point you’re at in your translation career and your viewpoint on this subject, but at the very least it makes sense that a limit should be placed on the number of words that any translator is asked to translate in an unpaid test. Again, this is a personal decision but, as a suggestion, a reasonable limit might be between 200 and 250 words or approximately half an hour’s work.
Offer Samples of Work Completed in Your Specialization
Of course, the other option available to translators is to offer the prospective client samples of work that you’ve already completed in your area of specialization. This would allow the agency to view a much larger sample of the translator’s work, certainly larger than with an unpaid test; and this would perhaps be a more reliable indicator of the quality of work on offer.