Entering any knew field of work can feel overwhelming, even more so if the work involves becoming a freelancer. There is one key and unavoidable element to working as an interpreter – registering with agencies (or LSPs – language service providers).
Indeed, this is one of the first questions we get asked when somebody calls to enquire about a qualification. ‘How do I get interpreting work? Will you help me?’. Today, Slator released their annual Language Service Provider Index, listing (by revenue) the largest agencies and LSPs globally, so we figured there’s no better time to talk about LSPs than now.
5 key tips when dealing with LSPs
Bigger is better
This refers to the number of LSPs you are registered with. Time and time again we are amazed to hear that there are linguists out there who are only registered with one or two agencies. The number of agencies you register with is nearly directly proportionate to the number of assignments you will be offered. Therefore, it stands to reason that you should try and register with as many as possible.
Organisation is key
Although there is no centralised way of registering with all LSPs in one go and you will have to go through each LSP individually, the documents they require tend to be more or less the same. Therefore, it helps to have a folder on your desktop with some key documentation – CV, ID, qualification certificate or diploma, proof of DBS, registration with any relevant bodies, and references. That way, when you get a response from an LSP, you can easily find the key documents in one place, significantly speeding up the process (and impressing the recruiter with your efficiency – brownie points for you!).
A necessary evil
Yes, we know, most people hate having to do research. However, when you become an interpreter or translator come at you need to understand one thing: you are your own business. If you don’t go out looking for clients or agencies, you will soon run out of work as nobody will go out and find you. Therefore, it’s useful to spend a set amount of time, even if it’s as little as an hour per month, conducting research on finding new agencies and clients. You can of course use Google, but don’t forget sites like LinkedIn, ProZ and Facebook groups aimed at linguists.
Stand out from the crowd
Marketing yourself by e-mail is quite similar to cold-calling (minus the risk of having the phone put down on you). Still, you will stand a much better chance of being acknowledged if you personalise your e-mail to the organisation you are contacting. Don’t be lazy – take a little look at their website to find out who their main clients are and in which segment they operate, and make sure you highlight your personal experience in those fields (provided you have some). It will make the recipient feel that you really do care about their organisation and that you took your time and put in a bit of effort into your e-mail.
Be patient (and keep records)
If you’re newly starting out in this industry, you need to understand that you will not hit your top earning potential in month 3 or 6 (or even 12). Freelancing in this field is a long-distance run – you just need to be organised and persistent. Keep track of any agencies you contact, along with the dates and responses. Also, make sure you update them whenever you achieve a new milestone (registration with NRPSI, CIOL or ITI, achievement of a higher interpreting qualification or a translation diploma, or even if you receive some particularly positive feedback from a client). LSPs receive hundreds of applications a day (we receive dozens ourselves and we’re not even an LSP!), so don’t be disheartened if you don’t receive a response on your first try. Good record-keeping will ensure that you can contact them again once you have a new string to add to your bow.
If you are looking to develop your skills, or are hoping to enter this field of work and need some support and advice, give our team a call on 0203 475 7771 or drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.