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Does your accent affect job prospects?

In a recent article in The Times, journalist Tom Armstrong reflected on the relevance and impact of an accent within the workplace or when interviewing for jobs. He observed that “when trying to forge a stable career in the creative industries, one of the UK’s least socially diverse places to work, [when] the way you speak comes loaded with preconceptions, many of them negative.”

He goes on to highlight the stereotypes or assumptions that come from having a cockney, or indeed any other recognisable accent, which largely come from outdated media representations. An example being, Armstrong says, that “cockney accents were for criminals and caricatures, not serious people who sat in boardrooms”.

As a result, he says: “For many people, hiding their accent became a way to get on in their careers; they had to concede that their background simply wasn’t good enough and they must adapt to be taken seriously.”

While we recognise that this might have been the case once, this is now a narrow, old-fashioned way of thinking. In today’s job market your accent does not make a difference when it comes to employers deciding who to pick. By toning down or hiding an accent you are denying a part of your identity – one that could be very beneficial to the job role you’re applying for.

Use your accent to your advantage and embrace the positive qualities associated with it. Equally, it is important to remember that as with personality traits, accents have hugely varying degrees of impact on prospective employers and different dialects will demonstrate different qualities to different people. So there could never be one ‘right’ accent for all jobs.

What does matter, however, is that you are articulate, clear and understood by the interviewer. Your accent does not affect the quality of your English, but how you communicate and the pace at which you speak can both help you sound more professional in a job interview. Avoiding slang, swearing, too many ‘likes’, ‘ums’ and ‘errs’ and mumbling are also important if you want to come across well when searching for a job.

Ultimately it is more about what you say, than how you say it. Show enthusiasm, be polite and really know the industry that you’re entering. Finding a job is as much about suiting the company culture, as it is about your experience. 

If you’re looking for Temporary or Fixed-Term Contract Personal Assistant, Executive Assistant, Private PA, Virtual Assistant or other Office Admin Jobs please contact one of our recruitment consultants on 020 7468 0400 or email us.

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