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Review of translator job portals

Based on my own experience

This will be a rather short post, since the situation here is quite simple.

There are several job portals targeting translators, like TranslationDirectory, TranslatorPub, TraduGuide, Translatorsbase, TranslatorsTown, Translators' Café, ProZ and GoTranslators. If you were looking for a one-by-one review of these sites, I must disappoint you. Beside some minor differences they all follow the same scheme:

  • A translator registers on the 'job' portal, which is free at this point. He has to provide all professional information, contact details and other sensitive information, which are usually immediately available for everyone on the planet with an Internet access to see, download and misuse. In many cases they should upload their CV which is usually a critical resource for identity theft. I am a victim of such identity thefts at least once a year. First it really annoyed me, but then I realized that if my CV, with all the details of my work experience and professional information is good enough for such misuse, it is a sign that I am not a bad translator in all. Since I can hardly do anything to stop circulating my CV, I have better to get used to this.
  • A so called job poster publishes a job, detailing requests for applicants and asking anyone interested to provide a price offer. In order to post a job no registration is needed, anyone with an email address might pose as somebody who is willing (and can) pay for work. This leads to many awkward situations, e.g. translators often collect pricing information from competitors by posting a job they would like to get for themselves.
  • Applying for a job is possible only when a translator subscribed for the portal, where the fee is in the 50-$300 per year range. Without this subscription the "advanced" (LOL) features of the site, like seeing detailed information about the job and/or the job poster, or even just communicating with other users of the portal, are unavailable.
  • Provided that the job posted is a real job, the job poster almost inclusively picks the cheapest one. If you were silly enough to pay for the subscription you will see that the email address of the job poster will end with @gmail.com, @hotmail.com or alike (provided that the portal lets you see that address). 80% of jobs posted on these sites are from third world countries, where the offered price is typically $0.02 per word. These third world agencies are often the sub-sub-subcontractors of big agencies, which are in turn contractors of the actual clients.
  • Beside collecting subscription fees the owner of the job portal exploits the traffic of the site by placing paid advertisements on his site. Now there are more and more sophisticated methods out there to detect AdBlock (BTW, this is the most popular browser extension, for an obvious reason) and preventing access to the portal. All this would be OK and I would be naive to mention this as a problem, but this becomes a real issue of integrity when even subscribed users will see these ads.

Would you pay to be in this crowd?

  • The owner of the site frequently harasses the translators with offers, like tickets for translators' conferences, organized on the other side of the planet, where a translator can hear about industry news. Yes, you read it right: a conference about news, in the age of Google Search, offered for an industry which has been operating for at least two decades over the Internet, without any face-to-face interaction. Sounds a great offer, right? Not to mention that no potential customers visit such conferences. The only reason I see for such conference is to get stoned and cheat your partner by getting laid with other industry members in a nice hotel far away, and to account all this expense as a justified business spending, provided you have a smart accountant. Sorry, but I am not interested in such offers.
  • The owner of the site also harasses the translator with special offers of certain software, mostly SDL Trados, where the discount is often as much as 50%. I wonder how much profit the CAT developer pockets at the normal price if he can give a 50% discount so easily, not to mention the commission he is paying to his campaign partner. If on a business negotiation I am offered a discount exceeding 20%, then I immediately stand up and walk away from the table. Such a huge discount means that my partner tried to rob me with his original, un-discounted price.

There are many more online job portals, which are not targeted for translator (e.g. Freelancer.com, Fiverr, Upwork, etc.), but any freelancer providing services like DTP, transcribing, coding, SEO, etc. Do not let their fancy design mislead you: these portals are nothing else but huge online sweat shops.

In short, none of these portals worth the subscription fee. What you pay will for the subscription never return. The time you spend on providing all information requested will never be given back. You will expose yourself to anyone, which logically might include the clients you are looking for, but the fact is that the visitors of such portals are not the clients you are looking for. Additionally, the information you publish there about yourself is beyond your control since you are not the owner of the site.

On these portals there will be always someone who is willing to work for less money than you do. Additionally, in order to maximize the exposure and to round up the largest pool of applicants, job posters will often post the same job on several portals. Don't forget: on their side there are no fees involved, so this is nothing more than copy-pasting the job description. If a translator wants to be sure that his perimeter is secured, he should subscribe to all job portals, which will result a total yearly subscription fee of $2,000.

All these sites represent the very bottom of the industry. These portals might be the first places an inexperienced translator might look for work at the very beginning of his career, but he can call himself a translator only when he is able to steer away from these sites and still receive a constant flow of work.

Zsolt, you totally broke my heart.
I confess that in the past I did post a job on one of these sites.

I really regret this and I learnt from my mistake.

I will never do this again.

And from now on...

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