It's not enough to simply be bilingual! Experience/training is a must!

We have wanted to write a post like this for some time, but it seems like one that is really common sense in our industry, so we held off for a while. It's time though. The other day, a colleague posted something about a flier she saw on a bulletin board. It interested us for two reasons: 1) the sign was posted by a competitor company in my state and 2) what the sign was advertising is simply ridiculous. Yet, we know this happens more often than it should in our industry.

So, here's a brief breakdown of what the sign says:

"Are you or a family member seeking employment? Are you or they bi-lingual? LINGUISTS NEEDED

Must have native or near native fluency in English and in a second language. Excellent communication skills Interpretation experience a plus Must be professional Medical and/or legal bi-lingual vocabulary required"

Okay, firstly, we want to point out that this company should know better than to post a sign about "employment" when probably, like most LSPs, they are looking for contractors. Contractors are not employees. And advertising employment is setting one up for problems later on when the person puts them down on a resume as an employer or inquires about benefits that employees typically receive.

Secondly, very few people know legal or medical terminology in two languages well enough to interpret it if they are not somehow involved in legal work or the medical field (or a professional interpreter who works in these fields). That said, "Interpretation experience a plus"??? How about "a must"! Why is it that so many companies are trying to expand their vendor database with inexperienced people simply to have a wider base of individuals to call on when they need someone to handle an interpreting appointment?

This company is not the only one that we have seen doing this lately. Another company contacted us about interpreting for them at a medical appointment recently and didn't even ask for any credentials at the beginning of the conversation. They simply wanted to know if we would be available to take the appointment on the day they wanted to schedule it. Wouldn't it be smart to know if we know what we're doing first??

Our clients want to know that we know what we're doing, and we simply can't imagine why other LSPs don't check into this first. Plus, it's not the smartest thing to put up a flier and simply advertise that experience is a plus. This is the fastest way to receiving an abundance of resumes and phone calls from people who don't know about our industry, let alone work in it. What about advertising on sites like Proz.com or TranslatorsCafé where professional linguists can post their resumes and accept jobs or apply to your company for contract work?

When we send an interpreter to an appointment or outsource a translation project to a translator and proofreader, our clients expect that we've given them some sort of test or at least checked their credentials, made sure they've had training and experience, and know they have the terminology they need for the appointment or project. Why isn't this followed by other LSPs? Are they that desperate to find good people?

Do you have experience with a company who accepts contractors with little to no training or experience?