Written by: Zunaica Phillips

While studying Human Resource Management (HRM) I gained an interest in the topic of change management. I realized that change motivates and makes things more exciting for me. So, the thought that some people can’t handle change or aren’t open for change somehow always puzzled me. Another discovery during my studies is that I – unlike many of my former classmates – actually love (and not using the word love lightly) to do research. Fast-forward a few years, while working as a lecturer at THUAS an opportunity arose to join a research group. Not any research group, the change management research group. Naturally, there’s no other choice than saying yes to such an opportunity. So, here I am…

Thus far, I’ve learnt more about myself than the researched topic. Somehow, I ended up in the process of researching the researcher. In this blog I’d like to share some things I’ve discovered over the last months when it comes to my role as a researcher.

My voice

Whenever I spoke to someone about my research topic I would, passionately and excitedly, go on for hours. Sharing my experiences, my viewpoints, how I’d like to publish my results, my intentions to create a method to apply with students, professionals, and so on. However, whenever I’m in research mode, a.k.a. while conducting an interview or having to write anything relating to my research, the passion and excitement leaves my body because I have to speak and write as a researcher

Even in the process of writing this blog I have found myself at a threshold, looking for scientific and eloquent words. So that way you, yes you reading this, can validate my words, my voice, me. I was taught that writing a certain way is important because, well you know, professionalism, credibility and all things they teach at university. There is no room for colloquialism and it is best to use third person pronoun because that adds an aspect of objectivity which makes the work more credible and less biased. Somehow, the more formal and professional I wrote, the less of my authentic self I read, the less my passionately exciting voice resonated. Whenever I’m in research mode, the researcher in me struggles between the normative rules of research and wanting to sound authentic.

One way that I was covering my voice is by referring to as many literature as possible. Don’t panic, I know the importance of literature, numbers and hard facts. But, I don’t want to end up in a position where my authentic voice, my way of speaking and writing, is covered or even silenced because I’m suddenly in research mode. Meaning, I need to act and speak in a certain way because that is the researchers’ code of conduct.

This discovery has led me to ask myself the following questions; how can I overcome this threshold to share my authentic self with you, without the need of your validation because my words might not be eloquent enough? Where does this cry for authenticity comes from? How much space do I give my own voice, even when I’m in research mode? What is the right balance between sharing the important stuff relating to research (literature, research method, etc.) and myself? I don’t have all the answers yet, but if you do, please find me and share your advice. 

On to my research topic… 

As an HR professional I’ve received signals that linguistic errors by applicants for whom Dutch is not their first language are frowned upon by recruiters because it’s a sign that “the candidate is sloppy”, or “candidate couldn’t bother to…”, or “candidate doesn’t have the desired level”. I want to find out to what extent these signs are true. Firstly, I will be focusing on recruiters. How do they deal with this? Based on those results, I want to see whether we should do something within the HRM programme around the phenomenon of language proficiency related to job application. Since many of our students start their careers as recruiters, this plays an important role in their development in order for them to learn how to spot talented and qualitative candidates beyond language proficiency.

Ok bye 

For my next blog, I hope to share more about my discovery on my research topic. All the more, on my discovery regarding my role as a researcher, what and how much of myself do I share with you, and not needing your validation (or at least less of it). 

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