Losing a Voice-Over Job – Making the Proverbial Lemonade Out of a Sour Experience

Deb Munro

Job Loss Gumbo


  • 1 Project
  • 1 Director
  • 5 Clients
  • 1 Talent
  • 1 Engineer
  • 1 Amateur script

The results of this recipe always change – so you must prepare yourself and be willing to accept the outcome. Luckily, the outcome of a job loss can actually be successful. (Which is good, because I much prefer writing recipes for success.)

At the time it may be hard to see how job growth can emerge from a voice actor’s worst nightmare, but really there is no other good way to take on this experience.

Let me assure you that it’s not a matter of “if” you lose a job; it’s a matter of “when.” How you handle the outcome either makes you or breaks you. I can give you story after story of talent, from newbies to pros, losing projects. Some people let it get the better of them. I’m hoping to help you get through this experience. The most important thing is to realize you are not alone.

The bottom line is that we CAN’T please everyone. We never will. We are not perfect, and as hard as you may try, you never will be. If you enter this craft, you enter it with the need to either please or be appreciated, so when you are not able to accomplish this, it can really make you second guess whether you are cut out for this industry or not.

For the newbie, losing a job right in the beginning can sway the talent to give up immediately and many do, but I want to encourage you to embrace the experience and learn from it. For the Pro, it can cause them to second guess themselves and put them in an unsuccessful rut. Just like the old elementary adage, “No one will like you if you don’t like yourself”! The same goes for us in this industry. If you let this loss get the better of you, it may reflect every future job or audition.

I like to approach every job or audition with the thought that, “I did the best possible job I could, under those particular circumstances!”

This is the truth. There are many reasons you could lose a job. It’s important for you to embrace and learn from what happened. A lot of times it’s the client. They may be really good at making product and business, but that doesn’t mean they know how to direct talent, in order to get the sound they hear in their head.

We can’t fix clients, but we can look within ourselves, being open to the fact that it might have also been us. We might have had a bad day, stress at home, we may not be ready, we may not understand the style they want, we may second guess their direction, we might overstep and direct while being directed, or any combination of these things and more . . . instead of just allowing yourself to be a puppet on a string and doing what you’re told.

You may NEVER know why you lose a job, but it’s important that you take the steps to care about what happened, and what you need to do in order to grow from the experience.

Perhaps you need to get more experience at being directed, or maybe your demo reflects a sound or style you’re not ready for. No matter what the reasons seem to be, mere rationalizing is not the solution. Let’s face it, we all tend to give reasons (excuses?) to justify our decisions and actions. Although this can help us decipher what happened, blaming anyone but ourselves doesn’t help us adapt and grow.

I try to follow this practice in my personal life as well as in my business life. I can blame all I want, but if I don’t take my own responsibility into consideration, I can’t learn from the experience and make sure it won’t happen again.

I’ve recently had a job loss like this, and, as much as I want to blame the direction, I had to go see one of my mentor/coaches and replay the entire thing for them.

I was so blessed to learn that my voice is changing and as it changes, the tones are too confident. The more I learn, the more confident I sound. While that might be great for some projects, it’s not great for others, so I had to re-adapt and add another layer to my character roster. Now I have two “signature” voices: my confident natural voice, and a younger more innocent-type character.

This immediately changed my booking ratio.

If I had just taken the attitude that it must not be me, and didn’t seek help, I wouldn’t have grown from the experience.

It’s really simple: even if a job loss or mistake is not your fault, you’re part of a team. You must realize you are not always perfect and you will mess up. It’s how you handle the mess, and whether you care enough to want to fix it, that will make you worth hiring again.

The beauty is there is another project around the corner. Tons of competition, yes, but more than 1 million commercials air every day, and that’s only one genre of the voice over industry. (And relatively small genre, at that!) There is ALWAYS more work around the corner, and there is enough to go around.

So take responsibility, have faith, and don’t let it get the better of you. Use your team, not your ego, to help you through these tough episodes. Your ego will get you nowhere, but your support system (especially coaches in these situations, but also family, peers and friends) will help you through, guiding you to the answers you need in order to stay positive.

Just make sure you’re being honest with yourself. If you are seeing a pattern of rejections or loss, it’s time you hired a coach and got to the bottom of it.

In all my years as a casting agent, it was those with confidence – who didn’t let anything get to them – that booked the jobs, time after time. That confidence has to be genuine and not arrogant. You can’t fake this one. Hold your head high, move on to the next opportunity and care enough to want to grow.

You can’t go wrong!

Until next time everyone

VO Chef Deb

Deb Munro is an Edge Studio coach. For more information about coaching with Deb or any other Edge Studio instructor, please call our office at 888-321-3343 or click here.

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