Looking for:

[Relationship – Something casual – Don’t know yet – Marriage]

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[Cute] [Reads caption] [Too short] swipes left

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[Yaaaas] swipes right

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[Hot] [Reads caption] [Jeez, typos… never mind] swipes left

[I mean, how hard can it be to check your grammar? Ugh, looks can only get you so far dude] swipes left

[Oh la la] [Reads caption] [Really? It’s THE not TEH] swipes left

[Is this what’s left?]

Closes app – cries internally

Looking for a relationship through a dating app can be so exhausting. All that judging people’s looks, swiping, reading their bio’s, answering what’s your favorite color for the millionth time, matching and unmatching. And to think that you can miss out on a match – and perhaps the love of your life because of grammar. A research done by researchers of Tilburg University has shown that linguistic errors does influence your chances for a match. They focused on 3 linguistic variables: mechanical language errors (typos), rule-based language errors (grammatical and spelling) and informal language errors. The results show that mechanical errors suggest that the writer was inattentive or sloppy, whereas rule-based errors suggest that the writer is not (or is less) intelligent (Van der Zanden, Schouten, Mos & Krahmer, 2019). Linguistic errors were seen as an indication of poor education and/or someone being clumsy, inattentive or ignorant. Thus resulting in an arbitrary or intuitive left swipe.

But hey there, for those that don’t know me… In February I wrote a blog about my first experience as a researcher and the difficulty to sound authentic, yet credible. I’m still experimenting with how much space I give my own voice and experiences vs literature and so on. In this blog, I want to share a bit about myself and the research topic. So, why do I find this topic interesting and important, and what do I hope to achieve within the educational system (and beyond). 

Going back to online dating… I see the story above as a metaphor for the process you go through while looking for a job. The job applicant is looking for a relationship – a long(er) term commitment with an employer. After taking the time to get to know each other and realizing they’re each other’s better halves, a proposal might happen where eventually they both agree to get married and remain until “death do us part”. Or in this case, until retirement do us part. But before the fairytale can start, there’s a recruiter swiping left and right. Deciding who has the potential to be a good match and hopefully the one.

[Not enough experience] swipes left

[Lives too far] swipes left

[Let’s go on a date and see if it clicks when we meet in person] swipes right

[Been around too much. Red flag. Commitment issues] swipes left

[Someone from abroad, good for the next employer branding campaign – long live diversity] swipes right

[Typo, sloppy much?] swipes left

As an HR professional, I’ve received some remarks that linguistic errors by applicants are frowned upon by recruiters because it is a sign that “the candidate is sloppy”, or “candidate couldn’t bother to…”, or “candidate doesn’t have the desired level”. Those remarks resonated with me because it’s something I’ve experienced since living in the Netherlands. I was born and raised in Aruba, so my native language is Papiamento. For those who don’t know, Aruba is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and our educational system is in Dutch. So, in school, we would communicate in Dutch (which is taught from kindergarten onwards) and once the school bell rang – as a sign of class dismissed – it’s back to Papiamento. There is also the forever ongoing debate with reference to the Dutch level that is taught in Aruba being lower than the standards of the Netherlands. Anyway, fast forward to 2015, here I was, an Aruban living in the Netherlands with the ability to communicate in Dutch but, not nearly as close to the proficiency as my fellow Dutch classmates. Needless to say, linguistic errors were not an exception for me. And may I add, those errors were not due to me being sloppy, or less intelligent… Many things just sounds good after a non-stop mental translation from Papiamento to Dutch (allll day long!). 

Looking back at some experiences I have had while looking for internships or a job, there were many occasions where I ended up feeling as though some recruiters saw me as the “not intelligent enough / don’t have what it takes to succeed” candidate for the particular role. Regardless of all the knowledge and skills I had to bring to the table. As I heard more remarks related to linguistic errors on application letters, I started to pay attention to the reason for rejection. Sloppiness, laziness, not capable, and many things that I knew for a fact that I was not. That raises the question: what would it have taken for a recruiter to see my full potential, beyond my linguistic errors in a language that is not even my own?

When it comes to online dating, it would be amazing to have a method, that serves as a toolkit helping you take a chance on a potential partner even if their description has any linguistic errors. Isn’t there a way to look past the judgement of the other person being sloppy, inattentive or less intelligent than you? This will certainly allow you to swim in a sea filled with plenty more fish. I became very intrigued to research the meaning recruiters give to linguistic errors in application letters – just like on dating sites. More specifically, how someone can look past linguistic errors and its instant negative association of another person. In order to give applicants a fair chance, the recruiter must (1) be made aware of its own subconscious meaning given to linguistic errors (cognitive biases) and (2) possess the right skills[1] to look past these errors. There are of course many reasons for mistakes, such as applicants with dyslexia, but for the purposes of my research, my focus is on candidates whose Dutch is not their native language. In the end, I hope to do something within the HRM program around the phenomenon of language proficiency related to job application. Since many of these 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.

Opens app

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[Hopi lekker] [Reads caption] [Has a cat] swipes left

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[Potential] [Reads caption: Creative, boxing Museum. love for Italy.] swipes left

[Is this what’s left?]

Closes app – cries internally

If you are interested in having a chat, finding out more, or contributing to my research, let’s go on a date on the 9th of June at the NEWBEE fest where I will be doing something related to my research!

[1] I’ve decided to use the term “skills” at this stage. However, I’m not sure if what’s needed is a skill, a certain world view, a method or something else… Nonetheless, I hope to discovered and define this during my research. Tbc.

              Van der Zanden, T., Schouten, A. P., Mos, M. B. J., & Krahmer, E. J. (2019). Impression formation on online dating sites: Effects of language errors in profile texts on perceptions of profile owners’ attractiveness. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 37(3), 758-778.

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