rejectedWhile I like to think that I’m always the best candidate for any project [insert sarcasm], there are times when I send out a proposal, hold my breath, keep holding it as I wait to hear from the would-be client to get back to me, and then eventually, when I’m blue in the face and pretty sure I didn’t get the job, I wonder why they didn’t hire me.

I’m not really suggesting that I’m the end-all be-all in web and graphic design. There are tons of us creatives out there, so of course I won’t always be the best fit. But the next time I’m not, here are five things I wish my non-client would do.

1. Respond to my emails.

I know you didn’t pick me, so it’s probably not on your radar to tell me that small, yet important piece of information. And that’s fine. If I haven’t heard from someone after sending out a proposal, I usually follow up somewhere in the two- to four-week range of hearing crickets in my inbox where there should be little dings. If you already know by that point that I’m not your dream designer, just take three seconds and let me know you’ve gone with someone else. I promise I won’t hunt you down and kill you; I just want to stop wasting my time with follow-ups. If you still haven’t decided, let me know that, too.

2. Tell me why you didn’t pick me.

For real, I can handle it. Are my prices too expensive? Too cheap? Did the other designer offer different services? A background in a specific industry? Am I in the wrong time zone for you and you’re concerned about scheduling phone meetings about the project? Did you find a grad student who offered to do it for free? Does she have a summer beach house that is empty a few weekends each year? Whatever the reason, I really would like to know so that I can improve my chances for next time.

3. Tell me why you’re thinking of not picking me

Even better than telling me why you didn’t pick me after the fact is having a conversation with me where you voice your concerns before you make your decision. Perhaps your perception of the way we’ll be working together is a little off. Maybe you don’t know about my past working in the health arena or financial field. Maybe you’re not comparing apples to apples with proposals. If you let me know your hesitation in choosing me, I can either put your concern to rest, or confirm that it’s a legitimate issue. If I’m not the right fit for the job, I actually don’t want the assignment; you don’t have to worry about me presenting myself in a false light just to win you over.

4. Keep me in mind for other projects.

Maybe you don’t like my web style. But what you might not realize is that I do a mean printed postcard! Just because I wasn’t the right girl for one project, doesn’t mean I’m not The One for another. So don’t delete me from your address book right away.

5. Don’t be a stranger.

Even if we never work together, it never hurts to keep in touch with someone. Maybe you have an in-house designer at your current job, but at your next gig, you’ll be in charge of finding freelancers to outsource to. Maybe your boss didn’t want to hire a one-woman shop for a super huge project, but your sister-in-law would love to work with a small, woman-owned business for developing her own company’s new website. You just never know when you’ll be happy to walk across the bridge we built during our proposal-submission-and-rejection process.