Insider tips for working with translation agencies

Corinne interviews translation industry veteran Steve Lank about the freelancer-agency partnership and how to make it work well for both sides. Steve earned his MA in Spanish Translation and Interpreting from Monterey Institute and has worked in the industry for 27 years; from 1998-2011, he chaired the ASTM subcommittee responsible for developing and publishing ASTM F2575-06 Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation, the first standard of its kind in the United States. Steve started out as a freelance Spanish-English translator and ESL teacher, and subsequently rose to senior management roles in translation companies in the US, Ireland and Spain. He currently serves as Vice President for Translation Services at Cesco Linguistic Services, working from the Washington, DC office.

Steve emphasizes that while he’s spent most of his career on the agency side, he still considers himself an advocate for translators, and feels that the agency-freelancer relationship can be a win-win if both sides can learn to trust each other and acknowledge that each party needs the other. <Speaking of Translation agrees!> Steve has also given numerous presentations for freelance translators who want to establish themselves in the industry.

We put Steve in the hot seat and asked him:

  • Chicken/egg: how can beginning translators find their first clients?
  • What’s up with downward price negotiations? Why do agencies apply them, and how can translators best handle them?
  • What are the top dos and don’ts of translator resumes? What errors pop up again and again? How can a translator stand out among the many unsolicited applications that an agency receives?
  • How about following up on agency applications? How often should freelancers follow up, and using what method?
  • How does a translator turn a first-time client into a regular client, and become one of an agency’s preferred providers?
  • How about the increasing emphasis on specialization in our industry? Is the “learn by doing” mindset OK, or do translators need more formal training in their specializations?

We think you’ll find Steve’s answers enlightening and helpful, so listen away!

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Insider tips for working with translation agencies

19 responses to “Insider tips for working with translation agencies

  1. Excellent podcast! Thanks Corinne.

  2. Well done for booking Steve Lank. Obviously his perspective as an experienced agency insider is invaluable: I particularly appreciated his remarks on making a CV stand out from the hundred others he got that day. Ulp!
    And he is such a merry fellow! Nice to hear some laughter down the line.

  3. Great podcast. Very informative and it was reassuring to hear Steve’s insights on how agencies operate and what they’re looking for. Thanks.

  4. Great podcast. Very informative and it was reassuring to hear Steve’s insights on how agencies operate and what they’re looking for. Shows how the respectable ones are looking out fro the common good. Thanks.

  5. Awesome interview, I will definitely be sharing this with my recently graduated students. Thanks!

  6. Fabulous interview. All of the details are so useful. I will be passing this along to my students and networks, and saving it for future reference. Thank you!

  7. Great podcast, thanks Corinne!

  8. Excellent interview. I am passing this on to my subscribers, excellent advice for beginner translators or translators who want to work with agencies!

  9. Great interview. Thank you!

  10. Two years after your initial blog post and Steve’s advice is still fresh and relevant. Thanks for an excellent interview, Corinne.

  11. Great interview! Thank you, Corinne. I was always curious to hear “the other side”, people from the agencies. Excellent questions!

  12. Wow… 2 years later and not a bit out-of-date! Amazing interview, Corinne! Steve seems to be a very nice person. I could spend hours listening to you two!

  13. Such an enlightening interview, Corinne, thank you!

  14. Corine van Drimmelen

    Even though I have been translating and interpreting for more than 28 years, I still learned some things from this interview. Especially the part about keeping the resume short was important to me: my resume is very long after all these years since I hesitate to leave out too many projects I worked on. Thank you very much for all the good advice!

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