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Could your EQ be the key to career success?

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a fashionable topic in business at the moment and something that we value very highly here at FreshMinds. The term is frequently used loosely in reference to interpersonal or communication skills, and companies are striving to find the most accurate way to measure it in potential employees. But what really is EQ, how far does it contribute to our cognitive ability, and is it actually important in driving a successful career?

In discussing a particular bumbling politician, Psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey wondered how someone so smart could so lacking in common sense. They concluded that good decision-making, logical thinking and rationality requires more than intellect or IQ and, in their 1990 paper, became first to formulate concept of emotional intelligence. The model then rose to prominence with Daniel Goleman's 1995 Book 'Emotional Intelligence'.

While controversy and debate have since ensued with regards to precise definitions and operationalisation, the result of this work is that our emotions are no longer positioned as the rival to reasoning, but as phenomena that can motivate productive outcomes when properly directed.

Various methods are employed to attempt to measure EQ sensu stricto, but broadly defined, EQ describes:

  • personal competency - ability to perceive own emotions (self-awareness) and to use this awareness to direct behaviour (self-management)
  • social competency - ability to understand moods, motives and behaviour of those around you and to manage relationships accordingly

 
What does this mean for graduates?

Here at FreshMinds, our focus on the consulting skill set means that we are keenly aware of the importance of what could be classed as ‘EQ’ (in our case, looking for exceptional communication, stakeholder management and collaborative abilities), as well as IQ (problem solving/analytical ability, for example). Similarly, as more and more young people are attending university and embarking on their job search with impressive academics under their belts, potential employers are looking beyond conventional indicators of intelligence, such as good grades, to indicators of high EQ in order to source potential graduates employees. The most sought after candidates are 'well-rounded' with worldly experience and ‘softer’ skills in addition to IQ.

For example, Deloitte's Scholar scheme offers a paid placement before university, followed by funding to travel. The idea behind this programme is to encourage young people to diversify their experience and skill set, in the hopes of generating a future workforce with more than just high IQ.

A recent study conducted by ICM Research, found that nearly 40% of line managers interviewed feel young people give insufficient prominence to their real-life experience  and ‘soft skills’ in job applications. They also placed high value on qualities such as strong work ethic, commitment, communication and team working ability.

The importance of great academics should by no means be downplayed, regardless of the extent to which they reflect IQ, EQ or a combination of the two. However, the take away point is that while our grades, once achieved, are set in stone, those qualities that constitute our awareness and understanding of ourselves and of those around us, are more versatile.

So how can I make my CV reflect my EQ?

Why not build upon your academics by engaging in diverse and challenging extra curricular activities and broadening your social interactions?

If you’re a candidate with the consulting skill set we’re looking for and are interested in your next move or talking through your career options, let us know!