There are several kinds of references: you can, for example, have general and public references that you can showcase on your website as well as field-specific references that are often expected in requests for quotes. With all references it’s important to know what you can mention about your clients and to whom and in what contexts – confidentiality is crucial in our field and you should never risk violating it.

If you want to use references for marketing purposes, always ask for permission to do so from your client’s liaison. Note that permission to mention a company’s name in your references doesn’t automatically mean that you can put their logo on your website. Therefore, when you’re asking their permission, explain clearly how and where you would like to showcase their reference. Even if you currently don’t want to list your references on your website, it pays to collect them for future use. Your marketing needs may change suddenly, and you often need to provide references when you’re responding to requests for quotes.

Some requests for quotes ask for references of previous work, often particularly about the work you have done in that specific field. Be careful, because you’re entering perilous waters when it comes to confidentiality. In most cases you can’t just list dates, clients, and subject matter of specific translations and interpreting assignments you’ve taken part in. There are some situations in which a seemingly fitting reference is not usable because you have worked through a third party, such as a translation or interpreting agency. If the situation is unclear, always contact the commissioner because leaving out references altogether could lead to your offer being rejected. It may not have crossed the commissioner’s mind that you can’t simply list your references as they are. Together you may, however, be able to find a solution that allows you to submit a modified offer for consideration.