You may not realise it, but your accent could be getting in the way of you landing a job. Of course it is hoped that an employer would never refuse someone a job based on their accent, but it can have an impact on how you are judged – even subconsciously – by an interviewer. If you are applying for work in your local area this may not be such an issue, but if you are looking further afield, you may be surprised how people may make judgements about you based on your accent.
If you doubt the power of an accent, just take a look at the television. Do you notice any similarities in the accents favoured by presenters of different programmes, or perhaps more tellingly those used by different advertisers. When it comes to being good with money, for example, advertisers will generally opt for either a well-spoken southern English accent, or perhaps, in the case of ‘money-sense’ a Yorkshire accent. By contrast, you are less likely to hear a Liverpudlian or cockney accent in these cases.
Does this mean people from Liverpool don’t know anything about finance, or that people with ‘cockney’ accents are untrustworthy? Of course not, but it is all about the sub-conscious perceptions we grow to have.
While you are looking at what you want to do and where, you might want to think whether you accent will be a factor. If you are dealing with customers, for example, a particularly broad accent may be seen to count against you. But what should you do about it?
Obviously, you shouldn’t try to put on a fake accent – just imagine that you got the job but then had to spend the rest of your career keeping it up! That simply isn’t workable – but you can work with what you have.
You accent is a part of who you are, it shows where you are from. Your heritage and your family, and is something that you should be able to be proud of. But when it comes to a list of important work skills – having the ‘right’ accent shouldn’t count except sometimes it does.
An accent is not a bad thing, but poor grammar can count against you. Speak slowly and clearly if you think you are going to have trouble being understood (or if you find you are!), especially if English is not your first language. Avoid slang terms, try to remain formal, and your accent should be less of an issue.
Making sure you are understood and showing how you are qualified for a job should be enough to get you through an interview. Of course, giving a good impression is important, but don’t feel the need to completely change who you are.
Ultimately, if your accent is going to count against you with a certain employer (enough to see you not land a job), then you are probably better off not working for them anyway! In some ways, a job interview is like going on a date for your career – and if the interviewer has something against your because of your accent, there is nothing much you can do.
Relax, be yourself, and let your accent take care of itself!