The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Job Searching and Career Success

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Job Searching and Career Success

“Emotional intelligence”, this term is getting popular, I usually hear people saying things like, her EQ is high, and she’s highly emotionally intelligent. Initially, I thought that the term could best be used to describe manipulative people, because I simply thought that emotional intelligence had to do with the ability to understand emotions, behaviours and their triggers and using that knowledge to get people to do what you want them to do. However friends, I now know better and would love to tell you all I know.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict according to Harvard Business School online defines it as “the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of those around you.”

Don’t you find it counterintuitive to use the term emotion so much? In a professional setting isn’t everyone supposed to be professional and serious? Where’s the place for emotions and feelings? That’s what this article is for.

So what are emotions and what do we need them for? How much do they influence us? According to Verywellmind, emotions are reactions that human beings experience in response to events or situations. We make decisions based on our emotions. There are 6 basic emotions; fear, disgust, anger, surprise, joy and sadness. It was later expanded to include embarrassment, excitement, contempt, shame, pride, satisfaction and amusement. Feelings however are what we experience as a result of emotions.

So of what use are our emotions? They are very important. We make decisions based on our emotions. This is why we have to be emotionally intelligent. Since we make decisions including job and career decisions based on our emotions, not just us but everyone else, we need to understand how these emotions work and how to use them to our advantage.

It is one thing to be out on a job hunt, it is also another thing to finally get the job and when you get the job you certainly have to work with people. In the job search process, you will have to get involved in interviews, emotional intelligence will help you ace your interviews. Emotional intelligence will also make you an outstanding employee when you finally land that dream job.

No one gets into a career and wants to remain stagnant (at least not you). You are reading this article because you want to do better with your life. You want to grow in your career. As you work you will have to relate with people, people above you and people below you in the job hierarchy; emotional intelligence will guide your relationship with all these people. Further down the article, we will highlight the benefits of emotional intelligence to your career and job search. Let’s dive deeper into emotional intelligence.

According to Harvard Online, there are 4 core components of emotional intelligence; self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. It is only logical that before you can bring out the best in other people you must be able to bring out the best in yourself. This is the importance of self-awareness. Working with a team you should know how your emotions affect you and how it is likely to affect your team.

1. Being self-aware

This means that you understand your strengths and weaknesses; for example, if you know that you find it difficult to work under the pressure of time because it makes you nervous, and cranky to your teammates and ultimately you produce the worst that you are capable of then you plan your life, schedule activities at work in such a way that you are always ahead of time. However, if you do know that you just don’t like the pressure of time but you do not yet know how it affects your delivery at work, you are likely to continue working from deadline to deadline and when your results are compounded over time you would have wasted a lot of resources and never really gotten to where you are supposed to be. Do not forget the words of Socrates “know thyself”, it is the key to everything else.

2. Self-management

This is the second competency of emotional intelligence. Self-management is the ability to manage your emotions. Since we have earlier discovered that your decisions are controlled and determined by your emotions, it means that if you are interested in making good decisions in your job search, in your career, and in your relationship with colleagues what you need to manage are your emotions, not other people’s own at least initially. You can’t manage other people’s emotions, you can only influence them.

Most of our emotions are automatic. If loud noises irritate you, a consistent loud noise from a certain fellow employee is bound to make you not like that particular colleague a lot. This means that naturally, you are not likely to see this colleague in a good light. Inevitably this will affect your relationship and eventually your results in your workplace if you have to work together. So what do you do? To manage yourself use the APR framework developed by Mckinsey. It means; Awareness, Pause and Reframe.

In the case of our character who hates loud noises, let’s call her Vivian. The next time this employee makes a loud noise, automatically Vivian’s brain would interpret it as an irritation and Vivian would begin to feel irritated, however, she would not just feel irritated with the loud noise, she would feel irritated with the producer of the noise. However now that Vivian has the APR framework the first thing is that she has gained awareness of her trigger; the loud noise. She also knows that the loud noise produces irritation in her but instead of her brain going straight to anger she stops herself; she pauses.

This is the second step of the framework. In her pause, she reframes her mindset positively. Vivian could tell herself that this employee is not making this loud noise to irritate or distract her. If she cannot speak to this employee to tell him about her concerns, she may decide herself that maybe the reason why this colleague sneezes loudly is because he has a respiratory problem. Now she does not feel angry, instead, she feels empathy for this employee. Over time she will stop being irritated with this colleague that makes loud noises.

3. Social awareness

After self-awareness and self-management, social awareness is next because an emotionally intelligent person can relate well with others. Social awareness is the ability to recognize others’ emotions and the role they play in your setting. When you can understand the underlying emotions beneath people’s perspectives and decisions then you will be more empathetic. Think about it, maybe that female boss that is so overbearing is simply trying to do her best as a woman in her position because she is one of the few women in that position and also because she knows that the men in the organization do not really approve of her and are just waiting for her to make a mistake to take her down. Or maybe she is afraid that her male subordinates may not respect her if she does not present a tough exterior. Understanding this will help you relate to this boss better; you will know that she is not an enemy but she’s only feeling inadequate or pressured.

4. Relationship management

This is the fourth competency of emotional intelligence. Relationship management is your ability to influence, coach and mentor others and resolve conflict effectively. You will need to learn to respect everyone irrespective of their positions to achieve this. Continuing from our last example, you may need to assure your overbearing boss that you are on her side and not out to cause her any trouble. This means that you will have to go out of your way to ensure that you over-deliver on the requirements of your job, this will convince her that you take her seriously.

Conflicts are inevitable wherever there are human beings because we all have interests that are not usually the same. It is the fight for interests that end up as conflicts. You must learn how to resolve conflicts and not be an avoider of conflicts since they are inevitable.

As you grow in your career you are becoming a leader, leading and managing people under you. It takes emotional intelligence to know how to influence your subordinates positively. Never underestimate the power of influence.

We have seen many of the importance of emotional intelligence in your career success, how about in your job search? The reality today is that companies choose to hire staff that are high in emotional intelligence who they then train on the hard skills needed to get the job done. Emotional intelligence is not easy to develop just like soft skills. Every individual has to personally take the steps to become emotionally intelligent, practice makes perfect.

Today many interviews for prospective staff are conducted in such a way that only about 20 per cent of the test is on the hard skills required to get the job done. A staggering 80% of the interviews are geared at ascertaining the emotional intelligence level of the interviewee. Because the tests and methods used to discover the emotional intelligence levels of prospective interviewees are elusive, your best bet is to put your efforts into studying emotional intelligence and practising all the way because your future boss is asking for a more emotionally intelligent you and the extent of your career success is dependent to a large extent on your emotional intelligence level.

Some other skills and attitudes associated with emotional intelligence are empathy, communication skills, interpersonal skills, leadership skills, decision-making, adaptability, self-motivation, stress management and goal setting. For the fun! To discover your emotional intelligence level right now, check this out. Remember Richard Branson says “EQ is more important than IQ for success.” Science suggests he’s right. Looking to be your prospective employer’s best choice check out our courses.

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