How To Hire The Right Translator

Today, thanks to the rapid advancement of technology, the world is a lot smaller and a lot more diverse than ever before. Now, in order for your business to stay competitive, you need to cater to more than one language. By adding a second language to your business, you can reach new customers all over the world and can make existing customers more comfortable by offering them your products in their mother tongue.

In order to be a successful player in the global marketplace, you need to create an emotional connection with your clients and the best way to do this is to speak to them in their language. As South-African President Nelson Mandela put it, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” But what if you only know one language? No problem! You can always enlist the services of a professional translator to help you grow your business and establish a stronger connection with international customers. While hiring a translator has many benefits (increased credibility, wider customer reach, etc.), there are many dangers as well. As many companies have learned the hard way, a single mistranslated word can lead to a public relations nightmare for your brand like when McDonald’s translated its Big Mac burger as “Gros Mec” in French which can read as ‘fat guy’ at best and ‘big pimp’ at worst. However, just because one of the world’s biggest corporations clearly couldn’t find a translator French-enough to spot such a glaring error doesn’t mean you can’t find the perfect translator and succeed abroad. You just need to know what to look for!

1. Strong Client History

The two biggest things you must research are who the translator has worked with in the past and what percent of their clients came back and used their services for a second time. Companies that have already earned the business of big household names are likely very deserving of your trust as well. Retention rate is also very important as this is the best indicator of how many brands were beyond satisfied and were able to grow thanks to the translation work provided. Look for a translator with at least 60% of their clients coming back for more though the higher the percentage, the better.

2. Flexibility

You should aim to find a translator who can grow with your business and won’t become overwhelmed as the amount of work or the types of work increase. While you may already know exactly what your business needs translated today, it’s nearly impossible to predict the translation needs of your enterprise in the future. You should never have to worry if your translator can handle a certain topic or, worse, limit the growth of your business to accommodate the defined skills of your chosen translator. When starting your search, look for a translation service which can handle a variety of tasks from translating important documents or audio files to adding subtitles to your promotional videos. Even if you don’t need audio translation services right now, it’s best to only work with translation services which can handle audio as well just in case you need that service in the future and because the ability to translate audio is a very good indicator of one’s true proficiency in a language. Translators who can handle audio are likely to be better at translating documents and dealing with linguistic differences in general compared to those which only work with text. Beyond finding a translator comfortable with a variety of translation scenarios, you need to find one able to work with content across different industries. Your translator must be comfortable with your industry, of course, but also with other industries just in case you decide to expand your offerings in the future. Additionally, the ability of a translator to deal with precise technical terms is a good indicator of their general skill. This is especially important if your business deals with important instructional or legal texts as a translator with a limited general vocabulary could easily make a mistake which leaves your company liable to expensive lawsuits.

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3. Invested Translators

Most commercial translators receive a set salary from whatever company they work for which is based on quantity rather than quality so these translators do not have any incentive to do their greatest work for your business. It is best to look for translators who also own a stake in their company because they have a certifiable interest in proving the quality of their service and giving your business the best results.

4. Native Speakers

This one is very important! Be sure to find a translating service that hires native speakers. In order to bridge the linguistic and cultural gaps between two unique languages like English and French, you need native speakers. Only true native bilinguals can effectively localize your brand by using the appropriate words and style. Small changes can make all the difference! Say, if you run a bakery in Manchester and your specialty is fresh bread free of preservatives, for a non-native speaker, translating ‘preservatives’ to its French false-cognate ‘préservatifs’ seems natural though, as any French native will tell you, ‘préservatifs’ actually means ‘condoms’ and while your bread may be free of condoms as well, that’s probably not as compelling as ‘preservative-free’. You’ll need a native speaker who’s French enough to catch all these faux pas before they hit the market. Translators who are native to your target market are great because they are most in tune to the cultural sensitivities of their country and can guide you away from phrases which may come off as offensive towards wording that evokes exactly the right emotions and helps your brand come off as professional and local rather than foreign and out of touch.

5. Only One Language Pair

Stay clear of translating services which boast their work with many different languages as these services often hire people who are ‘practically-fluent’ in many different tongues rather than people who are truly fluent in the language you need. Though it may seem very convenient in the moment, it is much more beneficial for your business to work with multiple specialized translation firms than just one firm trying to do it all. It’s best to use a translating service which specializes in working between just one language pair since all of the people there will be experts in the language you want. Also, translation firms which work with a variety of languages can be very misleading since many of their featured clients or reviews might be from language pairs other than the one you need. On the other hand, when working with a firm that only translates one language pair, you can rest easy knowing that the best language of everyone there is the language you need. Companies which have multiple employees but only work with one language pair are also better because, unlike companies working with the standard form of many languages, these companies can offer translations into whatever specific dialect you need and can incorporate slang as needed to help localize your brand.

6. Online Activity

When you start reaching out to translators, please take note of how long it takes for them to respond to inquiries as this is often indicative of how long it will take them to complete work. It’s very unlikely that a translator that takes weeks to reply to your emails will be there when needed for a last-minute, time-sensitive translation project and won’t be able to meet your deadlines, holding your business behind schedule. Also pay attention to how the translators present themselves online. Translators with out-of-date websites which lack professional pictures and informative text are much less likely to provide professional translation services. Look for translators whose websites are easy to navigate and, above all, feature fresh content like recent blog posts. This shows a dedication to staying on top of emerging trends in the translation industry and the evolution of language as it is commonly used by native speakers.

7. Passion

Above all, the perfect translator is one that has a true passion for their work. When reading about different translators, pay attention to the ones who mention their passion and dedication to the job rather than just talking about how cheap they are! Translators who are in the business not just for the money but for their love of language as well will often go above and beyond in finding just the right words to keep your brand on message, even if it takes a little more time and effort. This special breed of dedicated translator will also stay on top of trends in speech so your brand can stay in touch with your target market.


If you’re looking to translate between English and French or vice versa, your search is as easy as ever since there is only one translation service which meets all of these criteria, UK-based Sunderland Translations! With a strong client history which includes global brands like Renault and fast-growing startups like LimeBike, a 70% client-return rate (a rarity), and translation services across multiple mediums and industries, Sunderland Translations is the premier choice for UK-businesses looking to do business in French and for French businesses looking to tap into the English-language market, the most lucrative in the world. All of Sunderland Translations’ translators are passionate, native-bilingual owners in the company and French-enough to catch many of the mistakes others would miss to make sure nothing gets lost in translation. Sunderland Translations specializes solely in the English-French language pair and, in addition to providing unparalleled translations, responds to inquiries quickly, can meet even the toughest deadlines at a good price, and publishes an up-to-date blog on its easy-to-use website, sunderlandtranslations.com! But, if you’re looking for translations between any other language pair, be sure to keep all of the aforementioned points in mind to make a smart, informed decision for your brand. Happy hunting!