This week, one of my long-term agency clients asked me yet again to provide an updated resume, a description of my experience as a translator for the UN and the EU, as well as two recommendations from other clients in the same field.
For the very first time, I said thanks but no thanks. I won't allow agencies to use my resume and my credentials for EU and UN tenders anymore.
Since I started working as a freelance translator 13 years ago, my experience as a Project Manager on EU communication contracts, as well as the fact that I studied both translation and interpreting and EU journalism in Belgium, have led me to work with agencies subcontracted by European and international bodies.
At first, it was good business, ok money and a steady flow of work. Then agencies won tenders offering lower prices and asking EU freelance specialists to allow them to use their credentials to have a pool of senior translators with long-term experience in these subjects.
It's logical that we should pool to win big international contracts.
But little by little agencies have started using our credentials only to get the contracts, asking cheaper translators to actually do the work. They began by telling us to lower our rates, then not to translate anymore but to revise junior work. Now they just don't bother sending us work anymore, but they still use us as shopping windows.
This client is not bad and the rates are neither high nor low. I'm not sure whether they'll win this UN tender, but I haven't worked for them on EU and UN projects for at least three years.
Yet they keep asking me to allow them to use my resume and my 17-year experience to win over contracts.
I'm sorry but this will not fly anymore.
So I told them I was still available for these projects at my usual rate but wouldn't disclose the names of my other clients for whom I work in the very same field nor allow them to use my CV without any guarantee that I would get work in return should they win the tender.
And even though, like most freelancers, my FOMO is borderline obsessive, at this point in my career I prefer not to work for European and international bodies rather than having to compromise and let agencies use my experience on paper without gaining anything in return.
It's a shame: I love to work on these projects and I feel I give back much more to the world by translating for the United Nations or the European Commission than working on advertising or luxury marketing material (even though I must admit the latter is much more fun).
So if you need an EN/ES > FR EU/UN specialist with a generalist profile and a knack for legal, political and international development and cooperation subjects, just drop me a line: email@example.com.
I can definitely help you make the world a better place, one translation segment at a time. ;-)