The Key Skill Employers Want In Student And New Grad Hires

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Working with people means working with their emotions.

Need proof? It’s pretty hard to find a job description that doesn’t mention strong interpersonal, teamwork, collaboration or universal communication skills.

This is why employers are putting a big emphasis on finding employees who have strong “emotional intelligence.”

Whatever industry you plan on working in as a student or new grad hire, high emotional intelligence is never a bad thing. Read on to get the inside scoop on this skill.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is a mix of various components, each of which has to do with how you interpret and engage with your emotions.

Acknowledging emotions: This means acknowledging not only your emotions but the emotions of those around you as well. Employers don’t want your bad day to affect how you treat co-workers or clients. Also, recognizing the emotions of others is an important step to maintaining a successful work environment.

Understanding emotions: There will be times during your career when people will upset you without realizing that they have done so. For example, the way an email comes across, lack of recognition upon the completion of a task or a short comment from your boss or co-worker. Everyone in the office has a ton going on, which doesn’t leave much room to take into consideration how something they said or did affected you. Understanding how emotions work in these types of situations will leave you a lot less stressed out, less worried and more confident.

Facilitating emotions: Knowing how to handle your emotions in a positive way (such as making people feel open to having a discussion with you and avoiding being defensive) makes everyone more productive. When working with clients and co-workers, having positive emotions versus negative makes everyone feel more comfortable. Monitor how you’re facilitating your emotions by considering how your body language, tone, and mannerisms come across.

Handling emotions: Sometimes you’ll be in a situation where you have to keep a firm grip on your emotions and avoid expressing them in any way. The workplace is no place for heated arguments, for example. Inevitably, there will be situations throughout your career that push your limits, but it’s crucial to always keep your cool and manage your emotions in a professional and appropriate way.

Strengthening your emotional intelligence

The first step to strengthening your emotional intelligence is learning about it and being aware of how this skill works and applies in the workplace. You’re already doing just that!

But reading and learning about this skill isn’t enough. You must tackle using your emotional intelligence in real-life situations.

Start to consider how your emotions play out while with friends, peers, family, professionals and even strangers to get a good grasp of how you tick. Try and identify situations where you may be too liberal with your emotions or times where the emotions of others have a significant impact on your own mood.

Remember: Emotional intelligence includes both your emotions and the emotions of others, so develop this skill to incorporate all parties.

Showcasing your emotional intelligence

It’s hard for an employer to recognize a potential employee’s emotional intelligence without actually seeing them in action. This is why it’s important to showcase this skill during the application process in an effective way.

The first opportunity you have to showcase your emotional intelligence is during your application (in your cover letter, résumé or professional online profile).

Simply stating that you have strong emotional intelligence won’t prove much. To successfully showcase this skill, expand on experiences that have helped you develop higher emotional intelligence.

The next opportunity you have to showcase your emotional intelligence skills is during the interview. You can do this through giving human responses, communicating accordingly and preparing an example of a situation where you’ve applied this skill.

Bring the phrase into play and explain how it’s relevant to the job you’re pursuing. Next, provide a concrete example of a situation where your emotional intelligence was an asset and helped you negotiate the challenge at hand.

Expanding to explain how you’ve developed this skill, how you applied this skill and the outcome it had on the situation at hand is an effective way of showcasing your emotional intelligence skills.

Measuring emotional intelligence

Different employers have different methods that they use to measure emotional intelligence levels. For some, analyzing how your emotional intelligence is represented during the application and how they believe you’ll apply this after being hired on is sufficient. Others prefer to measure a potential employee’s emotional intelligence through tests like the Emotional Intelligence Test, the Myers Briggs Test, or the TEIQue.

Exploring some of these resources will help you understand the multifaceted role emotional intelligence plays in your professional life, so get cracking!

What’s your experience with emotional intelligence in the workplace? Share your insights on this skill by posting a comment below!

Photo Credit:  Łukasz Strachanowski

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About the author

Meghan Greaves is a Bachelor of Arts - Sociology and Marketing Management student at the University of Guelph. She also earned a Business Administration – Marketing (Co-op) diploma from Conestoga College in 2012. Meghan is currently completing a summer internship with TalentEgg as a Editorial & Marketing intern.