Immigrant? Quebecois? Newfoundlanders? Not wanted.

July 23, 2007

Dial this conversation up to 11.

FreshBooks has been looking for a web designer, UX expert, and marketing master lately. I received a cold call from a recruiter today who I presume found us through our job ads. He wanted to sell us his services to help fill this position.

I asked him what his process was. They interview candidates at their premises, and summarize their skills, personality, and communication skills for us. Communication skills were rated on a scale of 1-10.

Confused, I asked him to explain the last point. “10 is like you.” Oh, how flattering. He continued,

9 is someone with an accent. 8 is someone with a heavy accent but doesn’t have to repeat themselves. 7 is someone with a heavy accent that has to repeat themselves.

What about the Liverpudlians?

Riled, I said straight up that I didn’t believe in that since we live in Canada, and he honestly insisted on defending his position: “well, many companies only hire people with communication skills of 9 or above.”

Translation: natural-born, English-speaking North Americans only. South Asian? Quebecois? Newfoundlander? Get lost.

Some pigs are more equal than others.

In this industry, in this country, accents are par for the course because this industry and this country are global in scope. I would never have thought that an accent would mean poor communication skills; I would assume a tendency to use animated clip art in PowerPoint presentations did.

Sadly, this is no surprise to me. Immigrants in Canada have a hard time finding work because of attitudes like this. A lot of people claim to be equal opportunity employers, but really aren’t.

So, folks out there, tell me if you’ve hired someone with an accent? How’d it turn out?

about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.

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