How To Recruit The Right Translator

Sravani Gupta

I'm an industry expert with 6+ years of experience in language recruitment and vendor management. My vision and ability to nurture relationships lead to long term solutions and success for the companies I have worked for. I am also a Telugu linguist with a masters degree in Business Administration.

Apr 27, 2020 | Translation, Linguists

A fundamental tenet of language services is that an organisation’s translation product will only be as good as the linguist who writes the target content.

An LSP’s linguist network (among other things) determines the quality of its services. As a vendor manager, it is my job to ensure that my organisation finds and retains the best talent from around the world.

I’m a data driven and insightful recruiter who is passionate about growing teams and dreams. In this post, I will draw on my six years of experience as a language recruiter to highlight key points to keep in mind to find the right linguists for your organisation.

Well Defined Criteria for Shortlisting

When recruiting translators for new language pairs or specialisations, vendor managers have a variety of online directories at their disposal (ProZ, Translators Cafe, SmartCAT to name a few). To efficiently use them, they should know the characteristics, functionality, and size of different directories. It is very important to have a well-defined list of basic criteria that will allow you to quickly determine (within one minute) if a translator’s profile meets the company’s needs.

For a recent project in multiple languages, I contacted 2300 candidates.
Out of these 2300 initial contacts, around 30% (around 700) of candidates responded to my request with their profiles.
Out of these 700, only 20% (around 250) met the criteria established by my firm. Criteria includes years of experience, education, translation technology, native language etc.

So for every 10 linguists that were contacted, only 1 was selected for testing.

Careful Verification of Documents

During initial contact, recruiters request the documentation (diplomas, certificates, experience letters) that will allow them to verify that a translator’s background aligns with organisational needs. Carrying out this verification is incredibly important because it protects translation firms from working with scammers and inexperienced translators who have misrepresented their capabilities.

Keep in mind that checking documents like diplomas and certifications requires an understanding of degree equivalencies and the resources necessary to verify any target-language documents submitted.


Language tests (especially unpaid tests) are controversial in the language industry. However, it is not always easy to judge a linguists capabilities through their resume. A test can be critical in determining a translator’s skill level. It also allows new linguists without a lot of experience to showcase their talent and get work.

A short test of around 400-450 words is usually accepted by linguists. Depending on the project, it can be generic or subject-specific. Tests must be evaluated by experienced translators based on parameters set by the LSP.

Transparency and Trust

A well-designed and efficient process not only accomplishes the objective of collecting information and verifying credentials, but also indicates a firm’s quality expectations to candidates, It conveys the kind of approach they can expect when working with the LSP.

Informing the candidate about rates, payment schedules and service terms creates mutual respect and trust. I make it a point to be transparent with linguists and respond to messages within 2 working days.

To conclude, vendor recruitment must be counted among the most critical of processes for translation firms.
After all, organisations can work with the most up-to-date technology and design the most intricate of production processes. Yet, even with the best supporting components in place, the translation product will only be as good as the translator who provides the target content.

Happy Recruiting!

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