Guest

Would You Like Vocal Fries With that Order?

By: Guest | May 8, 2012 | 
24

Today’s guest post is written by Mark Story

Recently, Fast Company ran an article called “The Verbal Tic Of Doom: Why The ’Vocal Fry’ Is Killing Your Job Search,” by Craig Chappelow.

The premise of the article is this: Craig’s organization, the Center for Creative Leadership of Greensboro, N.C., was hiring for “a position that involved a high degree of interaction with senior executive clients, so we were looking for someone with the skills and experience to operate at that level.”

And the recruitment process rolled along.

Craig’s colleagues at the Center winnowed down a list of resumes to three and presented them to him for phone interviews. His first candidate seemed “like a perfect match of background and experience” on paper. So he called her. Turns out that she was not a perfect fit in Craig’s eyes.

As Craig wrote:

But when I spoke with the candidate, I ruled her out immediately. Why? Because of how she talked on the phone. Every sentence ended in a gravelly low vibrato. It was a grating, kazoo-like effect that made the candidate sound immature, unconfident, and, frankly, annoying… It turns out there’s a name for the way she spoke–it’s called glottilization or vocal fry, a voice trend among both genders and particularly prominent with young women.

In my mind, there are two things wrong with this situation.

  1. First, I love snark. My guest posting on Spin Sucks should be proof enough of that. But this article mocks a young woman in a very, very public setting. You can bet that whomever this woman is was sent this article by friends if she had not discovered it on her own. It mocks her. Craig took what is supposed to be a highly confidential process and made it semi-public. Sure, the woman is not named, but you can be damned sure she and her friends know who she is. Calling out a young woman for sounding “immature, unconfident, and, frankly, annoying” would cross the Center for Creative Leadership off my list of potential employers pretty damn fast. Unprofessional times 10, Craig.
  2. Second, of course the “vocal fry” is annoying. This was a communications position, and as communicators, we have to <duh> – communicate well. A tone of voice that truly distracts from the message can be the phone interview equivalent of not wearing pants to an in-person interview. BUT – if someone speaks to me using this “glottilization,” I will at least try to take the time to listen to the content of what he or she is saying rather than presuming their tone of speech indicates forthcoming words like “fer sure” or “totally!”

Bottom line? I think the article is snarky, which I usually like, but is way out of bounds for calling out an easily identified young woman whom the author describes as “a perfect match of background and experience.”

Does using the vocal fry make you sound like an idiot? Sure, it might. But think about it: Who looks bigger now? The girl trying to get a position? Or the hiring manager who rules her out for her “annoying” manner of speech and then goes public with it?

P.S. – And Craig: I fer sure, like totally won’t be sending in my… like…resumeeeee…

The views expressed in this blog post are mine and mine alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chairman, Commissioners, nor my colleagues at my Secret Government Employer.

Mark Story is the Director of New Media for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, DC. He has worked in the social media space for more than 15 years for global public relations firms, most recently, Fleishman-Hillard. Mark is currently writing a book, “Starting a Career in Social Media” due to be published in January 2013 by Skyhorse Publishing. Follow him on Twitter @mstory123.

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