I remember when I completed my undergraduate degree. I was idealistic. I had dreams of becoming a manager and then an executive in a Fortune 500 company. When I graduated from college I was so hopeful that my academic experiences and achievements would translate into consideration for a management trainee program and a bright career. I wanted the career I dreamed of, worked hard toward and sacrificed for to happen as soon as possible.
First came graduation, then interviews and a job offer. At that point in my life I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I decided to I accept the first offer I received and work my way up the corporate ladder. I thought I was ready for the working world; after all, I attended college, studied and broadened my experience by participating in extracurricular activities. When I graduated from college I have to admit that I wish I had the skills to help me to navigate career search disappointments, and the uncertainty of the process.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is a powerful tool that not only makes your job search easier and your work experiences palatable, when you enhance your emotional quotient, it can help you differentiate yourself from the multitude of entry level employees who dream about the same opportunities you want.
Emotional intelligence helps you to become aware of yourself and others in difficult circumstances and to take that information and respond in a self-regulated way. There are multiple studies that link high emotional quotients with superior performance in the areas of sales, leadership, communication, productivity and customer service.
The great news for female college graduates is that emotional intelligence is an intelligence that can be improved with enhanced knowledge and skill practice. Self-awareness is a foundational emotional intelligence skill because how can you become aware of others or self-manage if you are oblivious to the emotions you are experiencing? Emotional literacy is a foundational self-awareness skill that enables you to name your unproductive emotions and recognize your patterns of reaction. Pattern recognition is another important skill that you need to develop because the job search process requires productive patterns of behavior driven by optimism, creativity and discipline.
Emotional literacy and pattern recognition are the building blocks for other emotional intelligence competencies like consequential thinking. Consequential thinking refers to your ability to understand the consequences of your actions for yourself and others so you can consider alternatives that don’t always only affect you.
Your ability to make choices based on your internal values is called intrinsic motivation. With this emotional intelligence skill you are not influenced by your friends and family who think they know how you should manage your job search. I once encountered a college graduate who sent out hundreds of resumes within a small community, sometimes sending her resume to the same place more than once within a short period of time. She did not realize that desperation is not a highly regarded quality by recruiters and it took her a very long time to find a suitable role. Most importantly, with emotional intelligence you develop the skill of empathy, which helps you to connect with interviewers in an authentic way.
5 Ways Emotional Intelligence Can Help you in your Job Search
Emotional intelligence can help you with your post-graduation and other job searches in a variety of ways:
- It helps you to plan for and pursue a career you will love. It also helps you to think of more than one path to can get you there.
- You are not thwarted by rejection letters because you know this is not a personal response, potential employers don’t know much about you at all, except what is in your résumé. Potential employers usually make their decision based on three key factors related to you: availability of a job, your perceived fit for the role and the potential employer’s culture and your qualifications. If these three requirements are not a match then count yourself fortunate. You want to go where you will fit best, so don’t give in to the pressure to start paying back those school loans right away. Try to give it some time and be balanced in your approach.
- If your dream is to start a business, you will not succumb to extrinsic pressures to find a job because of people who don’t believe in your dream. You will only choose a job if it is part of your strategy to prepare yourself. Otherwise you stick to your plan and weather the experiences you encounter.
- Emotional intelligence will cause you to understand you are selecting an employer at the same time they are selecting you so you prepare your questions to determine if the work culture is one where you can grow and achieve your career goals. You ask questions like:
- What do employees love about working here?
- Tell me about the on-boarding process.
- What is the company’s philosophy about investing in the development of employees?
- What do employees complain about?
- A primary quality employers are looking for is an indication of your ability to be a team player. Developing your emotional intelligence will enhance your capacity for working within a diverse team.
Emotional intelligence is a powerful tool for differentiating yourself as a new, female college graduate. When you develop these skills, emotional intelligence has the potential to get you hired and promoted. When you neglect these skills, the lack of emotional intelligence can get you fired or cause your career to plateau. So as you embark upon your job search, take the time to develop your emotional intelligence. Read a book, or take an online class. It will help you to understand how to channel your thoughts and emotions and respond to challenging circumstances with ease and grace.
Yvette Bethel is an award winning author, business consultant, emotional intelligence practitioner and trainer. During her tenure in the banking industry, she served in senior capacities in corporate strategy, marketing, PR, training and human resources. She is a member of the Special Olympics fundraising committee. Bethel is a member of We the People, as a liaison between we the People and Six Seconds nonprofit organizations, she was one of the architects of a pilot that introduced emotional intelligence to public schools. The objective was to equip students with the tools they need to develop self-regulation skills in emotionally charged situations. Yvette Bethel can be reached at orgsoul.com. Her book E.Q. Librium: Unleash the Power of Your Emotional Intelligence; A Proven Path to Career Success is also available at Amazon and other retailers.
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