In the past two days, I have received 3 potentially lucrative job offers. I have only accepted one. I have the time to fit all of the jobs in, so why did I turn two down? I primarily work in a number of specialist areas and, although I assess every offer individually, there are some subject areas (well, many actually) that are beyond me. This knowledge of your own capabilities is essential in maintaining your reputation and, ultimately, that of your client.
When starting out, it can be very difficult to turn down work, especially when the offers aren’t exactly flooding in, but it is vital to know and respect your limitations. Everyone has them. I, and I’m sure many translators before me, have learnt this lesson the hard way (perhaps more than once) but it is a valuable one.
You wouldn’t want all the effort you have put into acquiring and building on specialist knowledge go to waste, would you? If you take on something you can’t handle, it will show. Honesty is the best policy, and your client will respect that.
If the project is outside of your comfort zone, recommend a trusted colleague, or direct the client to the directory of a professional organisation. This cements your position as an active member in the translation community and hopefully sends some work in the direction of one of your fellow linguists. You never know, they may have the opportunity to return the favour – or to send you a small treat as a token of their gratitude 😉