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.   

  • Lineimar Pereira Martins says:

    I loved this article. I have been curious about what a Translator Vendor Manager does exactly since I started to work as translator ten years ago. Now, I am able to visualise it. Thank you!

  • Georgiana Matei says:

    Great article in order to better understand the Vendor Manager’s attributions and how his works is done efficiently. Looking forward for the next ones! Regards.

  • Shankar Prasad says:

    It was indeed a great read. Very thoroughly written.
    I am freelancer in the industry since past 15years. I have question with the vetting process. If I am adding new language pair, for which I don’t have any translator, how would I validate the test samples? Any pointers would be very helpful.

    • Antonieta Martínez says:

      Hi Shankar! That is a great question indeed.
      If you are including a new language pair, the best way to assess the quality of candidates’ tests is to contact a very experienced linguist in that language combination to check them. A good idea to find a reliable reviewer is checking profiles on prestigious translation associations or asking for referrals from trusted colleagues.

  • Is this vendor management? After reading this, all about recruiting and managing resources. who is the vendor, resource is the vendor?

  • Antonieta Martínez says:

    Hi Flavio! Thank you for your question.
    The vendor manager is the HR professional in charge of recruiting and vetting potential freelance linguists to work for a language service provider. When we talk about resources we refer to translators, editors and reviewers.

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