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Will they come back when I come back?

By Cátia Cassiano

I’ve been a professional translator for almost 10 years. I love my job, but I must admit it has been a long journey to get where I am today. It is very hard to get your name in the market, but I believe that if you value quality, honesty and perseverance you will eventually get there.

However, your personal circumstances may change suddenly and that may cause great anxiety or concern. I’m going through this experience at the moment as I try to work out how to balance being a new mum without losing my clients.

After working hard over a long time, I’m finally getting more clients. In fact, the volume of my work has increased significantly over the past two years. The dilemma I face is that I don’t want to lose what took me almost 10 years to achieve, but I also didn’t want to miss out on being a mum.

So I’m trying to deal with it in the best way possible in order to minimise the effect on my clients and also be a great mother to my child. I know that one of the major concerns is how maternity leave would affect your revalidation cycle with NAATI.

I am appreciative of the fact that applications are assessed in a case-by-case basis. If you can’t meet the criteria for revalidation because you could not work for an extended period due to pregnancy, you can apply for an extension of your cycle by providing NAATI with medical evidence.

But my major concern is losing my clients. Will they come back when I come back? There’s only so much you can do to avoid losing clients after a long absence, but I believe there’s a few things that can certainly help.

For example, I’ve started by sending letters to my corporate clients three months in advance to make them aware of my upcoming maternity leave. This will help them to minimise any potential interruptions to their usual business.

Secondly, I tried to minimise the amount of full-time leave I am taking. I’ll be totally unavailable for three months and then I will be available on a part-time basis. I know this option may not work for everyone, but it was the best option available to me.

I’m very lucky that most of my maternity leave will be over the end of year holiday period which usually coincides with a slowdown in the amount of work. However, I still need to think of my clients and try to keep in touch with them over this period. At the same time, I will need to be there for my newborn child.

Whilst you can’t really control the volume of your work, I do believe that you can quickly make up professional development points with a little careful planning. It sounds hard, I know, but I believe it’s possible.

Even though I’m still worried that I might lose my clients at the end of the day, I know the quality of my work and I’ve invested time in building a great professional relationship with them. I am hopeful that my clients will recognise this and come back when I come back.

Cátia Cassiano is a professional Portuguese translator who has been living in Sydney since 2006. She is the founder of Updated Words. Catia is passionate about the translation industry and loves to share her knowledge with others.