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Five ways emotional intelligence can help you get your next job

People standing in a conference room during a networking meeting.

Emotional intelligence forms a critical foundation for workplace success and is really important. But what is it and how can it help you get a job?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is simply being intelligent about emotions. But it’s far from simple. We now have over three decades of research on emotional intelligence and how it can help us be more effective at whatever we do in life. We also have the Centre for the study of Emotional Intelligence at Yale University, which has a large team of scholars all studying EI. So yes, there is more to it.

It’s based on an important idea: everything we humans do, and think, is also emotional. All our thinking is filtered through emotions: “do I like this? Is this of use to me? Is this a threat to me?”, etc.

Most models of EI are models of various emotional intelligence skills, which help us to be more effective in life – including getting that coveted job.

Here are five ways you can demonstrate effective use of emotional intelligence to a prospective employer in a networking session or in a job interview.

Show confidence

Do you see yourself as confident and competent to perform the required duties of the job? Or, if you don’t have the skills listed in the job ad, do you feel confident to learn them? How we perceive ourselves comes across to others as either ‘comfortable in our own skin’ and ‘okay’ with who we are or the opposite. Employers are looking for that inner calm that comes with confidence and they want to see you standing up straight with head held high and hear you say, “Yes, I can do that!” or “I don’t know how to do that now, but I can learn!”

Express yourself

Do others know how you’re feeling by looking at you or by you expressing your feelings verbally? When you tell us what you’re feeling we have an opportunity to get to know and trust you. We don’t trust people we don’t know and how can we get to know you if you don’t share with us? Let people get to know you. You will be surprised how attractive authenticity is – when we don’t pretend to be someone we are not, but just be who we are. If you’re nervous in the interview, it’s okay to say that you are. If you are feeling anxious about something you are asked to do, tell the person who is asking you that you feel anxious about it and why and don’t be afraid to say “no” with an explanation, if you have a good reason to.

Demonstrate relationship skills

How well do you connect with others? Employers want to hire candidates they feel they can relate with. What makes you someone to connect to? Do you show interest in others? Do you ask about the photos on the interviewers’ desk or wall? Do you care about what happens to others and how do you show it? Finally, do you give back to your community or your city or town and can an employer see that on your résumé in the form of volunteer positions?

Be a decisive problem solver

How well do you handle decisions knowing that logic and emotion actually work together to produce better outcomes? How do you involve others in solving problems? Do you check to make sure you heard correctly? Do you take initiative? Always make sure you check your assumptions to ensure you are on track. Seek feedback and input from others to make the best decisions possible and control the impulse to make a quick decision in favour of making the best decision. Be ready and able to explain how you solve problems and make decisions when the employer asks you in the interview.

Live a low stress life

Living and working is stressful – how do you manage stress? Do you proactively deal with stress by building self-care into your routine? Are you flexible to bend and adapt to changing situations? And finally are you able to focus on what’s good about every situation? When we demonstrate a positive attitude, it communicates to employers that we will be enjoyable to be around. “Hire for attitude, train for skills” is an old saying that means when someone has the right attitude, meaning that they’re positive about the way they view the world, we can give them the job specific skills they need and they will likely be successful.

Perhaps you don’t do all these emotional intelligence skills well. That’s okay. We can all improve.

These are the learned parts of emotional intelligence and we can always learn to do them better. The best way to develop your skills in these areas is to read more about them1, take a training course, try one of many assessment tools that measure EQ, leverage your strengths, and get a coach to zero in on the things you don’t do well.

I wish you much success on the way to your career!

  1. Check out The EQ Edge, by Stein and Book, 3rd Edition.

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