TransTip: On Lying about your Language Skills to land a Job

Sorry to burst your bubble, but if you lie about your skills to land a job, a potential employer will most likely discover that, and there goes your credibility. This is simply not a smart strategy.

A recent example is when I had an Arabic to French translation project and I needed to outsource a huge chunk of it. I contacted a few colleagues who already had so much on their plate and couldn’t help, but instead they gave me contact details for a couple of potentially interested translators who claimed to translate into French.

Being the picky control freak that I am, I didn’t just rely on what my colleagues told me, so I had the translators take a small translation test, and boy did it smell like translation, which is never a good thing. Of course I ended up not hiring them for the job. It would be twice as much exhausting for me to proofread a poorly translated text than to translate it myself and save time, money and energy. I was also lucky that they did not get help with the test from other translators, because that would have cost me so much when I finally gave them texts to translate. I was lucky to have learned sooner and not later.

Better be good at one language combination than be average at several ones. This is something I live by, and it determines the jobs that I take. For example, I know a little Italian, but that does NOT qualify me as a translator into Italian. There is no way I would fool my clients into thinking I could translate for them into Italian. The same applies for projects that require that I outsource to my colleagues who speak languages other than the ones I speak. If I cannot control the quality and the translation cycle fully – in other words, if I don’t understand the target language, thus being unable to double check before sending to the client – then I won’t think twice about declining the project from the beginning.

Tip of the day? Have a sense of integrity, not just with your clients, but with yourself, and work harder if you wish to have more skills. Bluffing is not the solution.


4 thoughts on “TransTip: On Lying about your Language Skills to land a Job

  1. I fully agree with this article. I have never accepted a translation into or from a Language that don’t know. So I could not verify the quality of the work. In such cases I can recommend some translators that I know personally or from a public list. This is only to solve a problem for a possible customer on another occasion, even if know that this will never customer.

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