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Vocal Fry Is Rrrreaaaly Frying Job Applicants' Chances

You just found out that you didn't get the job. Was it something you said? Yes. In fact, it might have been everything you said and how you, like, said it.

Instead of sounding serious and erudite, you came across sounding like a young Moon Zappa from 30 years ago.

Moon Zappa's "Valley Girl" talk was the precursor to today's "vocal fry," a low-toned, verbally elongated way of speaking that plagues many a modern young person, particularly young women. If you think you haven't heard vocal fry here, there and everywhere at the mall and at the movies, then here's your tutorial:

Like, sound familiaaaaaar? Vocal fry is on my mind this week because I was at a playground recently standing near two twenty-something moms who were engaged in a rapid-fire, full-scale, VERY LOUD vocal fry session. Between the two of them, the word "like" was uttered nearly 30 times in a two-minute time span. (Yes, I counted, because I'm a nerd.) That's roughly 15 "likes" uttered per minute. So I was, like, going to the maaaaaaaallll and, like, I like, reeeaaaaalllly, like, haaaaaate that paarrrrrrrking lot, you know what I meeeaaaan? It's so, like, uuuugh? So we, like, went somewhere eeeeelse?

Vocal fry is reaching epidemic proportions, thanks to cultural influences (Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian) and copious amounts of peer pressure. What vocal "fryers" may not realize, however, is the extent to which speaking this way could be hurting their chances of landing a great job. Fast Company magazine covered the topic recently and shared how it didn't hire a stellar-on-paper applicant after speaking with her over the phone.

I can sympathize, because after 10 minutes of listening to the verbal diarrhea at the playground I simply couldn't take it any more. I moved to a spot that was, like, out of eaaarrrrrrrshot? Women who resort to vocal fry may be some of the sweetest, kindest, smartest women in the world, but how they choose to talk makes them sound shallow, cutting, and quite frankly, rather uneducated.

Mind you, I'm not without my own verbal hiccups. While I'm too old for "vocal fry" and I've somehow managed to escape the like-as-said scourge (thankfully), I have to consciously manage my tendency to say "you know." Sometimes it just slips out, especially when I'm very nervous or I'm around someone else who has the same bad habit. It's contagious and tempting. Why is that? The mind is a mysterious organ, you know?

We can all become much more aware of our verbal tics. Everyone I've ever met has at least one, whether it's "you know" or "anyway" or "um" or "uh" or "sort of" or "like" or something else that pops out every seventh word when we're heavily engrossed in conversation. One of the best ways to pinpoint your own loquacious landmines is to tape record yourself having a conversation. (Make sure it's okay with the person you're speaking with beforehand.)

Hearing your own voice on playback can be incredibly insightful as to how others might perceive you. It can also be downright humbling in some ways. Oh my gawd, I rrrrrrreally, like, sound like thaaaaaaaat??? Then start self-monitoring your own speech patterns. Make a conscious decision to slay the dialogue dragon. Simply becoming more aware of your tone and particular tics can go a long way toward conquering these verbal vampires.

It can't hurt, anyway, and it might even, like, help you, um, land, like, a new job, you know?


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