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Whenever you have dedicated most of yourself to a field that is completely creative, it can be frustrating looking for other work because people don’t always see the transferable skills that we have learned from being on stage. Skills that we have not only acquired, but mastered better than any other candidates employers may have. As an actor, I have been trained in communication skills, public speaking, confidence, problem-solving, and persistence.
I can stand up and sing a solo in front of 40 people on the fly without even blinking. Performing teaches confidence. Confidence that you truly can not get anywhere other than performing in front of a hundred strangers on a regular basis. We have to have the confidence and the self-security to play ridiculous theatre games in front of people we may not know yet. We have to have self-esteem high enough to strut out on stage in ridiculous costumes, (and go out in overdone stage makeup to eat after the show).
Actors and performers are also trained in communication skills; we are trained in body language, subtext, and tone of voice because it is all part of character study. We know how to carry ourselves when talking to people in different situations. Actors know how to read people better because we can fit them into categories of characters we’ve played or researched in our heads.
Performers also have great public speaking skills. We are trained in exercises that teach us how to speak properly with the best diction, volume, and breath support. We know the exact right amount of eye contact to make with who we’re talking to and where to look when we’re not looking right at you. We are always clear speakers who are easy to hear and understand.
The most important transferable skill performers learn is problem-solving. When something goes wrong unexpectedly and we have to figure something out on the spot, we can easily think of quick fixes. As someone trained in live theatre, things always go wrong on and off stage and it’s our job to make sure that the show continues running smoothly and that the audience doesn’t notice. I think this transfers to work-life because as employees of sales, retail, or fast food you will often run into situations that you have to fix without preparation, dealing with it on stage has prepared us to not only stay calm under pressure but also has made us excellent problem solvers.
Lastly, we are the most persistent, resilient people you will ever meet. We are extremely motivated even in the face of tons of rejection. Especially as a salesperson, you face lots of rejection going from door to door. Theatre and sales each have their levels of rejection, none more demoralizing than those faced in a theatre. Door to door sales rejection can go anywhere from someone not opening the door to you at all, to kicking you off the porch, to calling the police on you for soliciting. Nothing ever faced in sales will ever be as bad as wanting a role, or a spot in an ensemble more than anything and being told that you aren’t skinny enough, or you don’t have the right look, or you aren’t talented enough. Yet we performers keep going, everytime we get knocked down we jump back up again and audition again. That kind of resilience and determination can’t be taught.
Actors and performers make the best hires, we have the strongest work ethics and the strongest performance skills, and we will throw ourselves wholeheartedly into everything that we will do.