Don’t Let The Haters Get You Down: Rejection + the Audition Mentality

2010 June 9

Guest post alert! Today’s post comes to you from Alexandra Franzen. We connected via Twitter where I heard word of her recent resume contest. And we decided that our mutual awesomeness necessitated a blogging collaboration. Her contribution, in the form of a guest post, is below. Consider it a no-holds barred look at what life as full-time freelancer truly entails.

I recently spent some time in New York City with an old high-school chum. She’s now a successful Broadway performer, with glittery dreams of TV stardom. The woman is a walking tub of talent. She’s gorgeous, driven, well-spoken and well-dressed. And every single day — sometimes twice or thrice a day — she gets flat-out rejected.

Photo by arimoore

Like most actors, my friend is constantly auditioning. She gets all dolled up, takes the subway halfway across town, walks into a room full of strangers, reads her cue card, and waltzes out to her next appointment. It’s a schedule that most job-hunters would find emotionally and physically exhausting. And 99% of the time, she doesn’t book the gig. No explanation. No follow-up. No “thanks for trying.”

Does she cry, wail and whine about every missed opportunity? Heck no. Hustling up jobs is her job. She’s a professional hustler.

I went 100% freelance two months ago, and started plotting my cubicle escape route six months prior to that. So you might say, I’ve been thinking like a professional hustler for eight months straight. It’s a shark-like mindset — you never stop swimming.

To keep my copywriting career afloat, I e-mail out six or seven query letters to editors and agencies every week. To keep my stream of resume design clients pouring in, I’m constantly following up with past clients, requesting testimonials, seeking referrals and inquiring about new projects. I spend a hefty chunk of my day brainstorming high-impact / low-cost self-promotion tactics. I update my blog four – five times a week, and rummage up guest-blog-portunities (hello, Generation Meh). Sometimes — as with my recent “Spruce Up Yo’ Resume Scholarship Contest” — I give away the milk for free, all in the name of professional development and guerrilla marketing.

For every 10 query letters I send out, I might hear back from one editor. For every 20 vaguely-interested resume clients that contact me, I might lock in a design package with three. For every 100 contracted writing positions that I apply for, I might land five. For every 1000 casual conversations with friends, family members, colleagues, cab drivers and coffee shop baristas about my career goals, 10 might lead to lucrative positions.

Those statistics might make a traditional job-hunter shudder. So much work! So little pay-off! And — worst of all — so much rejection!

Thing is, it’s not rejection — it’s just the audition process. The more you pound the pavement, the broader your footprint.

My biggest lesson from the past eight months of hustlerdom? Stop thinking like a secure 9-to-5-er (because honestly, no one is ever “secure”) and start thinking like my friend, the Broadway actress. Audition your little tush off. Tell your story. Send out your resume, headshots or portfolio. Make that coffee date. Reconnect with that former employer, professor or agent. You never know who needs you, until you poke your smiling face back into their orbit.

Oh, and most importantly? Don’t let the haters get you down. Especially if the hater is you.

ALEXANDRA FRANZEN is a freelance copywriter specializing in resume design, public broadcasting and corporate branding — with a kick. You can find her blogging up a storm at Unicorns for Socialism and tweeting away @alex_franzen.

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