An Insider’s Guide to Translation Vendor Management

Relationship building, problem-solving, quick decision making, and assertiveness, just a few valuable skills that make for an accomplished Vendor Manager. In the translation industry, Vendor Managers leverage the talent of editors and translators from around the world, carefully matching their skills to specific scopes of work. The dynamic role requires a deep knowledge of the translation industry and an extraordinary ability to understand the unique needs of every client. With the pressure of deadlines and volume of work constantly looming, Vendor Managers quickly identify qualified candidates while still maintaining relationships throughout and even after the interview process.

Let’s take a peek into the Vendor Management process and how potential vendors can stand out.

A Day in the Life of a Vendor Manager

Although no day is quite like the other, a typical day for a Vendor Manager begins by following-up with potential candidates for translator and editor opportunities. This takes a keen skill of reviewing resumes and spotting excellent recruits. After this extensive process, there is a bit of housekeeping involved to ensure candidates are registered in the system and all files and documents are updated. Next, an apt Vendor Manager touches base with previously onboarded vendors to ensure they are comfortable with their workload and to address any issues that may arise. In a sense, a Vendor Manager acts as an extension of the Human Resources department.

“The role requires the ability to understand people’s needs and problems,” explains Antonieta Martinez, Vendor Manager for Terra Translations. “Vendor Managers have to follow-up with people who were great translators but may have issues or changes in their personal lives that are affecting their work. You must try to connect with people.”

In addition to connecting with onboarded talent, the Vendor Manager checks in with the business and project management teams to flag their requests and any urgent recruitment needs for critical assignments. The teams’ requests truly drive the recruitment process and dictate what the Vendor Manager should be searching for in a hire. From Hungarian to Greek translators, Terra’s recruitment needs are always shifting, however, there are ongoing opportunities for English/Spanish translators and editors with various specialties.

Vendor Selection Process

Resumes and credentials are crucial in selecting a strong candidate who will thrive on projects. Martinez considers candidates who have either studied linguistics or have a solid two to three years of translating experience as an in-house translator or as a working freelancer.

“The trick to Vendor Management is finding the jewel in a stack of papers,” said Martinez. “Beyond resumes, I am looking for candidates who are authentic, honest, and have great communication skills.”

After the Vendor Manager finds a profile that fits the requirements and credentials are verified, candidates are contacted regarding their rates. Then they are given translation or editing tests. Each candidate receives one test according to the category they are applying for. A typical test is about 500 words or less and can include technical themes from various industries. For example, general translation tests include three different text themes: general, medical, and legal. Offering different themes allows the team to identify what industries best fit the candidate. The editing test is similar, only the candidate isn’t translating, they are revising the text and correcting mistakes. A team of reviewers will assess the quality of the submission. The minimum passing rate is 80/100 for translators and 90/100 for editors. Lastly, passing candidates are accepted as a vendor and registered in the system.

How to Stand Out When Applying

Martinez receives an abundant amount of applications. She suggests candidates pay special attention to grammar to be seriously considered as a vendor. Careless typos will dramatically hurt a candidate’s chances of moving forward in the process because the translation industry is so heavily tied to proper grammar.

Another way to stand out is for candidates to always include a PDF of their resume. A candidate’s resume should highlight all additional specializations, skills, and relevant courses taken such as continuing education classes in linguistics or seminars at the American Translators Association. This tells the Vendor Manager that the candidate is always trying to excel and improve in his or her career and profession.

A personalized cover letter or email will also gain the attention of a Vendor Manager. Candidates often make the mistake of sending out one templated letter to every agency they apply. Martinez identifies this one and done approach as a huge misstep for candidates.

“I see candidates who send one application to many agencies, but it’s not personalized,” Martinez said. “It’s much more powerful when someone takes the time to personalize the message and we know the letter is for us.”

Within the personalized letter to the agency, it helps if the candidate can include his or her rates. Although there is always room for negotiation, the transparency with rates always makes the selection easier for the Vendor Manager and expedites the process.

What Matters the Most

By understanding the big picture, a Vendor Manager supports an organization’s growth by expanding its talent pool. The Vendor Manager must look beyond credentials and find candidates that truly fit the company’s culture and mindset. Vendor Managers make connections with the piece of the business that matters the most, the people.   

Translation vs. Transcreation

Translation involves rendering one language to another. Sounds simple enough. However, without proper attention to context and culture, intended meaning can be lost in the translated text. Phrases in one language should not be expected to directly translate word for word into another language. Poetry, for example, doesn’t directly translate because it’s filled with feeling and personal interpretation. For brands, slogans and taglines often include regional slang and colloquial words that require an approach beyond translating methods alone.

That’s where transcreation comes in.

What is transcreation?

Transcreation is the merger of two words: translation and creation. It’s an intricate form of translating that preserves the original intent, context, emotion, and tone. Originally conceived by marketing and advertising professionals, the goal of transcreation is to duplicate the message thoughtfully and seamlessly, without audiences realizing a translation ever occurred. The finished product should give the audience an identical emotional experience as the source message.

The process

Where translation usually begins with a source text, the transcreation process often kicks off with a creative brief. The expert producing the transcreation must have the skills and knowledge to not only know the cultural nuances of both languages, but must understand the “spirit” of which the original message was created. In the process, the transcreator may also take creative liberties and make significant changes to the translation in order to uphold its original meaning. With special attention given to the end user, all content created should resonate with audiences from a cultural point of view.

In addition to translated copy, transcreators can also advise on the look and feel of the client’s campaign. The expert will assure that all creative, such as imagery, color, and layouts, align and will resonate with the local market. Again, the goal is not just to translate text but to evoke emotion with proper cultural adaption across all fractions of the campaign. For example, the expert will recommend if models in advertisements need to be replaced to better fit the demographics of the differing market.

How to improve the process?

Due to its dynamic strategy and attention to various aspects of a campaign, transcreation has become a focus within the translation industry. To better improve the complex process, it’s important that the source copy is final before moving it into transcreation. Last minute changes can disrupt the transcreation process and extend projects past deadline. Also, because creative liberties are often taken in transcreation, it’s extremely beneficial to have an approval process in place with sign-off from a relevant product or brand manager within the target market of the campaign.

A prime example of a brand utilizing transcreation is McDonald’s, which adjusted its North American slogan from “I’m lovin’ it” to “I just like it” in China. The word “love” in the Chinese language is extremely serious and rarely said aloud. “I just like it” is a localized expression more in line with the Chinese culture. In addition to slogans, McDonald’s also localized their menus to suit the tastes of the target market. A McDonald’s in the Philippines, for example, may offer the McRice burger while a McDonald’s in India will offer a McPaneer Royale. When done correctly, transcreation is an effective way for brands to authentically reach new markets in a meaningful way and achieve greater brand engagement and recognition.

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What is the TEP Process in the translation industry?

In the translation industry, we live for processes. One such process is TEP, a cornerstone to most of our company’s projects and workflows. TEP is an acronym in our industry that stands for Translation, Editing, and Proofreading. With about 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, translation errors are inevitable, even for professional translators. The TEP process is a strategic approach to translating used to ensure the utmost accuracy and protect the meaning conveyed from the original language. Premium translation services and companies that follow this process will offer higher quality translations because of the layered oversight.

The first step in this process is translation, which is the rendering of language from one to another. Context is extremely important at this stage. The translator should consider not only the language and country of origin but the language variants within the region. Spanish, for example, is spoken by over half a billion people in the world with significant differences in vocabulary and grammar dependent on locality. We use the client’s preferred computer-assisted translation tool software, adhere to the Translation Memory and Termbase, comply with locale suitability, and follow the general or specific style guide for all projects.

Editing is the next, arguably most important, step in the process. After the text is translated, editors must verify the translations are accurate and align with the rest of the passage. Editors should research and check to see if there are better words that preserve the meaning and cultural nuances of the original text. Editors should also strive to incorporate extralinguistic conventions and country preferences such as the way dates are written or government agencies are titled. The editor is ultimately responsible for making sure that the translation is clear and complete.

Lastly, proofreading is the final stage of the TEP process. The proofreader will scour the text for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. They’ll consider stylistic principles and ensure country standards are followed. Translation services that do not employ the TEP process will often jump to the proofreading step without properly checking for context. Proofreaders should always review and analyze the translation to ensure every idea is true to the original text before diving into grammatical edits. At Terra, our Quality Assurance Managers oversee this last step. In addition to proofreading, they will check the text with translation tools Verifika or XBench.

While in search of quality translation services, it’s best to go beyond companies that simply translate and revise text. Without the knowledge that both an editor and proofreader bring to a project, your projects run the risk of delay or even additional cost to correct unnecessary translation mistakes. You should look for translation services that adopt the full TEP process. The three-step system will protect you from poor translations that diminish the results you wish to achieve.

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A Professional Translator’s Guide to ATA Certification

In our world of professional translating, obtaining an American Translators Association (ATA) Certification is truly a milestone achievement. With an overall pass rate of less than 20 percent depending on language, the exam to become certified can trigger hesitation for even the most confident and experienced linguist. In addition to personal achievement, an ATA Certification can provide immediate professional credibility and distinction. Similar to joining to a professional association, the certification validates your dedication and comprehensive knowledge of that particular language. Listing your certification on your LinkedIn, resume, and even e-mail signature appeals to clients as they can confidently expect higher quality work.

As one of the most respected and recognized credentials in our industry, the ATA Certification Program acknowledges translators who possess the skills to provide quality translations. The three-hour, open-book, proctored exam offers testers three passages of which two of these passages must be translated. Topics vary from finance to politics that include idioms, proper names, and sentence structure designed to be difficult to translate. The test taker must produce a translation that is not only accurate but sounds natural. Every error counts as at least one point and is weighed differently depending on the severity of the mistake. To pass, test takers cannot accumulate more than 17 points in errors.

There are various approaches test takers can take to prepare for the challenging exam. ATA practice tests are available that provide insight into the nature of the exam and understanding how errors are marked. These practice exams also allow testers to gauge how well they will perform on the exam as well as skill areas that need improvement. Enrolling into translating classes or attending exam workshops can further improve language proficiencies. Lastly, there are many blogs and resources available from those who’ve passed the test, offering their first-hand experience and applicable tips.

We’re proud to announce that Terra’s very own CEO, Marina Ilari, has obtained the coveted ATA Certification. With over a decade of professional translation experience, Ilari earned a degree in Literary Translation from the Universidad del Museo Social Argentino, and a Certificate of Proficiency in English from the University of Cambridge. She’s an active certified member of the ATA, attending every conference hosted since 2013 as well as fulfilling her continuing education requirements.

“I’m honored to join the ranks of other ATA-Certified translators, a distinguished accomplishment we worked very hard to achieve,” explained Ilari. “I became a translator because of my love for language. This recognition is an extension of this dedication and commitment to my industry.”