Wicked Smaht: Is Your Accent Hurting Your Professional Credibility?

Is your accent hurting your professional credibility? I was talking to a fellow career journalist recently and the subject turned to accents. We were contemplating whether or not certain accents (i.e. Boston, Deep South) can hurt a person in a phone interview. After some reflection on our own experiences, we both agreed, yes, an accent can misrepresent you, and possibly even hurt your chances of getting hired. Ironically, I used to work with someone who has a strong Boston accent. He was a recent college grad and is an exceptional worker. I don’t hear his accent any more, but I do recall the first time I heard his voicemail and thought, “Hmm. It’s clear he’s from Beantown.” So, I asked him if his accent had ever caused him challenges. To my surprise, he said, “Yes.” It turns out, on a recent trip to California to visit a childhood friend, he spent a week hanging out with her friends and was told repeatedly, “WOW! Your accent is sooooo strong.” He said, by the end of the week, he was so sick of their comments and teasing (i.e. asking him to say certain words and then busting out laughing); he couldn’t wait to get back home. So, I asked him, “Have you considered changing it?” He said no, he didn’t really see why someone should change the way they speak. I pointed out actors go to speech classes all the time to learn different accents for roles. Then, I outlined how not considering it could impact his future… Since I grew up in New England, I am familiar with the Boston accent, so it doesn’t affect my perception of him as a worker. However, the fact remains: If he wants to get a job outside of this area, or even if he wants to work with people from outside this area, there’s a chance he’d be discriminated against, even though he's "wicked smaht." Is it fair? Nope. Is it reality? Yes. Here’s why... TV and film create stereotypes via the characters they produce. Those characters’ accents create perceptions. Sad but true, certain American accents further the stereotype of being "uneducated." (And yet, we all remember the incredible scene from Good Will Hunting.) However, when it comes to hiring, I doubt highly every manager sits back and says, “Well, the accent is bad, but maybe he’ll turn out to be like Will.” More likely, they are thinking, “Yikes. That accent is strong. Did he go to college? Could I listen to it every day?” Harsh, I know, but this site is called CAREEREALISM for a reason. So, I ask you? Have you ever found your accent to be a disadvantage in your career and/or job search? If so, how did you deal with it? And managers reading this, what are your thoughts? Can you honestly say an accent doesn’t matter when you are assessing a candidate to join, and subsequently, represent your company? Experts, feel free to weigh in on the subject, too. What do you advise? Photo Credit: Shutterstock

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Diane submitted. She has recently worked with a co-worker on a group project. When it came time to present the project at a meeting, Diane let her co-worker present. While it went great, the co-worker proceed to take credit for nearly all of Diane's work. Frustrating to say the least!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if your co-worker took credit for the work you did...right in front of your colleagues AND boss!

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Cam submitted. He's been working at a job for awhile, but recently overheard a hiring manager making fun of a candidate with autism right after an interview-not only awkward, but VERY unprofessional!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if witnessed a hiring manager at your organization making fun of a candidate who they had just interviewed who had autism.

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

Starting a family is one of the biggest milestones in a person's life. It's in those first few months when a parent can really bond with their newborn and make lifelong memories. However, for some new dads, it can be difficult to juggle being a new parent while remaining dedicated to their career.

Fortunately, some companies have generous paternity leave policies that give new dads the ability to take time off of work to stay home with their child.

SHOW MORE Show less

There are LOTS of questions around resume dos and don'ts. There's so much advice out there that it can be overwhelming to try and figure out what's the correct answer.

During our weekly live Office Hours on YouTube, two of our coaches, Ariella Coombs and J.T. O'Donnell, answer questions live from viewers related to their job search, career success, on the job situations and more.

We complied a simple list of what we find to be the most common questions our coaches get about resumes. We hope you find this helpful.

Let's start with the basics...

SHOW MORE Show less

Back in March, we made the hard decision to change our private Facebook group of over 37 THOUSAND members to a fee-based only platform.

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if a recruiter called you a day EARLY for your phone interview (and you were NOT PREPARED!)

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less