Your communication skills are paramount in securing a job. Assuming that you are qualified for the position you are seeking, your communication skills could take precedence over everything else. No matter how great your abilities, if your words are not being understood the first time you say it, then your lack of clarity in speaking will place you on questionable footing.
Please note that I am not an advocate for trying to eliminate your accent. That should not be your goal. I am an advocate, however, for speaking clearly and distinctly. It is a prerequisite for success. It also does not matter where you live or what your mother tongue is.
Let’s say that you are living in Germany but were born in China. Unless the company for which you are seeking employment is an international firm, the chances are likely that ‘Deutsch’ will be the language you will be speaking. If your accent is so heavy that your German is hard to understand, then the firm will probably hire the candidate whose articulation is better than yours.
How do you improve your diction?
- Speak in the language of your adopted country at home. This is extremely important. I have found that those whose diction is not understandable tend to be speaking their mother tongue among their family and friends. The more you speak in the language of your adopted country, the better you will become.
- Learn to control your speed. Often those whose language is difficult to understand are talking at 100 mph! Being able to control your speed will definitely have an impact on your diction.
- Take a voice training course. While the purpose of voice training is to improve the sound of your speaking voice, one of the many benefits of this type of training is that your diction will improve (if you are taught to use your chest cavity to power and amplify your sound.)
When I was living and working in Canada, my ex-husband, a symphony conductor and Austrian by birth, was unable to understand any of my clients in their ‘before’ readings. However, he understood everyone in the ‘after’ video recordings. That speaks volumes when you consider that my clients hailed from countries all over the world.
An accent is one of the of the components which makes you, you. It distinguishes you and is part of your heritage and background. Don’t get rid of it, just clean it up.