Hard skills will always be an important consideration in hiring. But people with superior so-called “soft” skills, or Emotional Intelligence/Emotional Quotient (EI/EQ), are becoming more sought after.
EI/EQ ties into personal branding. Job seekers have always been wise to highlight the personal traits that indicate how they work with people and how they operate. Personality is important to employers. Branding is all about personality.
Forbes senior contributor Jack Kelly found that Emotional Intelligence was a common theme in hiring criteria among hiring managers, recruiters and talent acquisition professionals:
“Emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EI/EQ) is generally viewed as the ability to be aware, manage and express your emotions. You approach relationships and work-related interactions in an empathetic manner. People who have EQ tend to be emotionally aware and sensitive to the feelings of others. This quality helps effectively solve problems in a compassionate manner. Possessing an emotional intelligence trait equips a person to treat others with compassion, understanding, respect and kindness.”
Traditionally, EI/EQ factored little or not at all into hiring. Pedigree was the thing. Kelly notes that could explain why “so many companies are rife with cut-throat, toxic co-workers and bosses.”
High emotional intelligence people often earn more
According to Kelly:
“It’s reported that workers with high EQ tend to make better decisions, maintain their cool under pressure and stress, deftly resolve conflicts, respond positively to constructive feedback, work well with others and demonstrate leadership abilities. Additionally, high EQ people tend to do well and advance within organizations. A survey conducted by TalentSmart, showed ‘90% of the top performers were high in emotional intelligence, with a higher average income per year.'”
Career Professionals Discuss Emotional Intelligence
Nicole Rossilli, Senior Director of Marketing at Compliance Search Group shared Kelly’s article in a LinkedIn update. Some career professionals weighed in:
Executive career strategist Maureen McCann
I’m not sure hiring people with high EI/EQ is new or the result of the pandemic. EQ was popularized by Dr. Daniel Goleman in the 1990’s. His research found people with high EI brought with them self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.
To Jack Kelly’s point, I believe these are skills organizations have always needed from employees. Maybe now it’s just a little more obvious than before?
Executive career coach Dorothy Dalton
Organisations and hiring managers have been slow to value soft skills which is why we have so many poor leaders and made some terrible hiring decisions. I have always said that soft skills are the cement that hold all the other skills together.
Hard skills become outdated but soft skills don’t. They are behind all human interaction and relationship building. Glad that hiring managers are waking up finally.
Careers industry advocate Marie Zimenoff
EI in leadership is critical, especially now. Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is required to persuade or motivate, provide meaningful feedback, and so many other important leadership activities. Especially when all this has to be done virtually and people are dealing with so much.
Career coach Bob McIntosh
Two of the most important traits of emotional intelligence (EQ) are self-awareness and empathy, the first of which is internal facing, the second external facing. Without both what you have are people who can’t grow as employees. They make for difficult people with whom to interact, including not only managers but also fellow colleagues.
As Jack Kelly said in his article, employers will hire “rock stars” disregarding a candidate’s ability to manage oneself and others. This ends up biting them in the ass when they realize the rock stars can be difficult with whom to work. High achievers will possess high IQ and EQ. I might argue that EQ is the most important of the two.
Career pivot strategist Marc Miller
Years ago when I worked for IBM on a large hardware and software development project I had a discussion with my boss about whom to hire out of college. Back in those days IBM only hired new college graduates.
I told him I would rather hire someone with a 3.0-grade point average rather than someone with a 4.0. He looked at me funny and asked why.
I told him that when I was in college, from which I had graduated about 5 years earlier, the 3.0 had friends and knew how to get along with people, but the 4.0 was usually constantly competing to get the A and had no social life. I had learned on my first project that how people got along was far more important than anything else. Therefore, I would prefer to hire the person with the lower grade point average.
Career transition coach Gina Riley
Here is one takeaway, from the cited TalentSmart survey that indicated ’emotional intelligence also accounted for up to 60% of the job performance for supervisors through CEOs.’
80% of our skills are transferrable and largely soft skills – the key is for hiring teams to learn effective Behavioral Interviewing techniques and practice how to ask the right questions & probe, vs. taking canned questions off the shelf and expect to learn anything about a prospective candidate.
Candidates would be wise to gather stories about HOW and WHY they do what they do.
Communication coach Sarah Elkins
Emotionally intelligent people are usually very good at encouraging others, helping build confidence, which is a key aspect of managing and developing people.
One of the biggest frustrations in my career has been working with people who had little EQ, but who were never confronted, despite the cost to productivity, turnover, and disengagement.
Career coach Sonal Bahl
I really, really hope it’s not THAT new to see recruiters look for high EQ. There’s research from years and years ago that proves that EQ is THE differentiator. Those with high EQ actually perform:
-Better at sales
-Better at leadership
-Better at work and relationships in general
If some managers are waking up to this fact now, well, it’s never too late and I’m glad to hear it. About time!
Job search strategist Jon Shields
[As Kelly stated] “Many companies demonstrate a preference for hiring so-called ‘rock stars’ who are borderline lunatics, but are given a pass because they bring in revenue or perform a function that’s in strong demand.” I think these people also cause high turnover rates and cultivate a cancerous, stressful culture. We’re all just trying to make a living here and it’s not worth it.