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Avatar by Jan Hendrik von Ahlen
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Why Emotional Intelligence WILL Make or Break Your Career Prospects


Do you think that skills alone will help you climb up the career ladder?

Not a chance!

Gone are the days when someone was hired based on a checklist of qualifications and expertise. It now encompasses a more nuanced aspect: Emotional Intelligence, otherwise known as Emotional Quotient or EQ.

EQ is the difference between a good candidate and an exceptional team player. A passable manager and an inspirational leader. Getting passed over for promotion and leaping forward.

As every JobLeads career coach agrees, EQ has a profound impact on someone’s career prospects, even if they’ve never heard of the term.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at what Emotional Intelligence is, and learn why hiring managers place such a high value on it.

EQ in a Nutshell

Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, refers to the capacity to recognize, comprehend, and manage not only our own emotions, but also the emotions of those around us. It’s the intangible quality that transforms a competent professional into a collaborative and inspiring force within a team.

When evaluating candidates, hard skills are undoubtedly important, but these are no longer the sole determining factor. Hiring managers seek individuals who can navigate challenges with grace, collaborate seamlessly, and motivate others – qualities inherently associated with high EQ.

In the following examples, we break down why emotional intelligence matters and how it can shape the trajectory of your career.

#1 Navigating Challenges with Resilience

In any career, challenges and setbacks are par for the course. People with high EQ possess the resilience to weather storms and bounce back from setbacks.

Their ability to manage stress, stay composed under pressure, and maintain a positive outlook contributes significantly to their professional success.

Sarah, a SaaS Project Manager, faced a significant setback when a critical team member unexpectedly resigned just weeks before a crucial project deadline. Sarah demonstrated resilience (AKA high EQ) by swiftly reorganizing the team, redistributing responsibilities, and providing support to her remaining team members. In her resume, she highlighted this experience: “Led high-stakes project team through unforeseen challenges; resilience and adaptability to unexpected circumstances resulted in successful project completion within original timeframe.”

As a job seeker, showcasing key instances of overcoming challenges and demonstrating resilience in your resume or cover letter can speak volumes about your EQ.

Share anecdotes that highlight your ability to handle adversity, learn from experiences, and emerge stronger.

#2 Adapting to Change

The modern workplace is ever-evolving, with rapid technological advancements and trend shifts. There’s no doubt about it: to thrive in this environment, professionals need to be agile and adaptable.

High EQ individuals embrace change, view it as an opportunity for growth, and navigate transitions with ease.

John leveraged his cover letter to showcase his adaptability, which was a key soft skill in the Helpdesk Administrator role he was applying for. John described a situation where the company adopted a new project management system. Despite initial resistance from the team, he took the initiative to learn the new system, conducted training sessions for his colleagues, and ultimately facilitated a smooth transition. In his cover letter, John mentioned the project, stating: “I successfully led my team through this challenging technological transition, showcasing my adaptability and commitment to ensuring a seamless workflow even in the face of change.”

When writing your own cover letter, emphasize experiences where you successfully adapted to change.

Just like John, highlight instances where you demonstrated flexibility, embraced new technologies, or pivoted your approach to meet evolving demands – whatever the job description calls for. This will underscore your EQ.

#3 Fostering Effective Collaboration

Teamwork is the cornerstone of success in many organizations.

People with high EQ excel in fostering smart collaborations by understanding the emotions, perspectives, and motivations of their team members. They contribute positively to team dynamics, creating an environment where everyone feels heard and valued.

As a Marketing Manager, Emilia emphasized her collaborative abilities in her cover letter. She narrated an instance where she identified tension within her newly merged team following an M&A and organized a team-building workshop. In her cover letter, Emilia wrote, “I recognized the importance of team dynamics in achieving our goals, by initiating a team-building workshop that strengthened collaboration, resulting in a more cohesive and productive team.”

In job applications, draw attention to your collaborative achievements. For example, highlight instances where you worked seamlessly with diverse teams, resolved conflicts, and contributed to a positive team culture.

Use your cover letter as an opportunity to align your experiences with the EQ aspects outlined in the company’s job description.

#4 Inspiring and Motivating Others

Leadership is not solely about authority; it’s about inspiring and motivating others to achieve collective goals.

Emotional intelligence plays a pivotal role in effective leadership. Leaders with high EQ can connect with their team on a deeper level, understand their motivations, and provide the support needed for individual and collective success.

If you think back to the managers and leaders you’ve worked with over the years, the ones with high EQ are likely those that were both effective at their jobs and at relating to their team.

In his resume summary, James - a Sales Manager - communicated his inspirational leadership in his resume summary. He highlighted a quarter where his team faced challenging sales targets. Through motivational speeches, personalized coaching, and acknowledging individual contributions, James led his team to exceed their goals. His summary read, “An empathetic and inspirational leader who navigates struggling sales team to smash targets through strategic coaching, frequent motivation, and championing individual efforts.”

When constructing your resume or cover letter, incorporate language that reflects the abilities highlighted in job posts you’re applying for. For example, point out instances where you’ve led teams to achieve remarkable results, demonstrating not only your technical proficiency, but also your capacity to connect with and motivate others (i.e. high EQ).

Communicating EQ in Job Applications

Producing a compelling job application that effectively communicates your EQ requires a strategic approach.

As we’ve seen, you can incorporate references to EQ in your resume or cover letter.

In your resume summary statement, accentuate 3-4 soft skills such as self-awareness, motivation, empathy, or social skills. This is the first glimpse a hiring manager gets of your profile, so make it count.

Then in your cover letter, identify a further 2-3 specific EQ aspects within the company’s job description and weave evidence of these into your narrative. Use relevant examples to showcase how your emotional intelligence has contributed to your past achievements and how it aligns with the company’s values and goals.

Maria, an HR Generalist, strategically incorporated EQ into her application materials after learning about this topic. In her resume summary, she stated, “Passionate HR specialist with a strong emphasis on Emotional Intelligence, fostering a positive and inclusive workplace culture.” In her cover letter, she further aligned her experiences with the company’s values: “I am drawn to your company’s commitment to teamwork and collaboration, values that resonate with my strong background in fostering positive team dynamics.”

For instance, if the job description emphasizes the importance of effective collaboration, share a specific instance where your ability to understand and navigate team dynamics led to a successful project outcome.

Tailoring your application to highlight your EQ not only sets you apart, but also demonstrates your commitment to the values and culture of your prospective employer.

The Future of Careers and Emotional Intelligence

With the world of work changing so rapidly, especially the technological, interpersonal, and business changes brought about by the recent global pandemic, job seekers must stay on top of emerging trends.

Emotional intelligence is increasingly becoming a critical factor in determining career trajectories. The ability to navigate challenges, adapt to change, foster collaboration, and inspire others is no longer just a desirable trait—it’s a necessity.

Hiring managers recognize that individuals with high EQ contribute not only to the success of their teams, but also to the overall culture of the organization.

If you want to thrive in your career and stand out in the evolving job market, then cultivating and showcasing your EQ is paramount. It’s a subtle yet powerful force that can make or break your career prospects.

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