Posts Tagged ‘career transition’

Hired or Not? Emotional Intelligence can make the difference

Article contributed by guest author Patricia Edwards

Emotional intelligence is often the “final” factor

If you are like most job seekers, when you read “strong people skills” and “strong technical skills” in a job posting, you may tend to gloss over the first to focus on selling your technical talent and experience to the prospective employer.  In fact, we often refer to people skills as the “soft” skills and that sounds secondary to anything else we might possess. WRONG!

More and more companies hire for attitude because they have been burned when hiring purely for technical skills and knowledge.  What seemed like a dream candidate turned out, occasionally, to be a problem employee who was not successful.

Hired or Not?

Organizations often use behavioral interview questions which are founded on Emotional Intelligence, referred to as the “Other Kind of Smart” like Harvey Deutschendorf and Daniel Goleman. The latter wrote a book, Emotional Intelligence:  Why It Can Matter More than IQ, which soared to the top of the New York Times bestseller list for a year.  Additionally, some companies use

pre-employment assessments, based on soft skills to predict job related behavior or organizational fit. These tests determine the level of self-awareness a candidate possesses as well as how insightful s/he is of other people.  The higher the Emotional Intelligence, the more able the individual is to influence others, crucial to many professions including customer service, marketing and sales.

Emotional intelligence separates star performers from everyone else

Research consistently shows that people with high EQ out perform their peers and studies have shown positive correlation with high EQ and careers involving customer service, sales and, especially, management positions. They are aware of their own emotions and keep them in control, enabling them to focus on their work, when others around them are adding to the drama and non productivity.

Yes!  You can showcase your emotional intelligence in your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile

By sharing your success stories and achievements, you can really stand out against your competition by showing how you:

  • Develop rapport with your work contacts
  • Build trust with team members and customers
  • Manage stressful situations
  • Negotiate favorable outcomes during times of conflict
  • Nimbly navigate change

What about the interview?

Knowing how to incorporate Emotional Intelligence into an interview can also give you the competitive edge you need to ace the selection process.  Employers hire for positive attitude, resilience and cultural fit; therefore, your responses to interview questions should include examples of how you have overcome obstacles, adapted to changes and worked effectively with others. Simply saying that you possess these traits is not enough.  Go into your interview prepared to share several examples.  That way, if you have multiple levels of interviews, you can share a different example with each interviewer.

IQ may get you hired but EQ gets you up the career ladder

Emotional Intelligence also accurately forecasts leadership capability and is used often when companies identify and groom emerging leaders since that process consumes considerable investment of resources. But it is used extensively in identifying and training top sales teams and has been used by a wide variety of organizations from L’Oreal cosmetics to the United States Air Force with results of more effective hiring decisions, lower employee turnover and higher performance.
If you are interested in career advancement, understanding Emotional Intelligence is a wise investment in your development. An assessment will provide you with a baseline and the great news is that EQ can be improved over time with an individual development plan.

The Art of Coaching (Case Study #1): Old and Depressed

Case Study #1:  Old and Depressed by David Colarossi, Ph.D.

“What’s next?” With this simple question, Adam Johnson had me stumped. At 58 years of age, the pharmaceutical sales director believed he had climbed every mountain in life, and none felt worth it. “I have spent my whole life looking at the horizon. Thinking, ‘If I accomplish this, or that, I will finally feel satisfied.’ Now, looking at my life, I realize that I am sliding to the grave and have nothing to look forward to, nothing to feel proud of, and nothing to enjoy.”

Adam was no slouch.

The first of three children born to a single mother, Adam’s life was difficult at the start. His mother tried to support the family, working two jobs, but was never quite able to make ends meet. As a child, Adam vividly remembers regularly caring for his siblings while his mother worked but failed to earn enough to put food on the table. As a child, Adam learned to sneak food from school and steal from the local grocery store to provide for his siblings. At age 16, Adam made the decision to live on his own. He dropped out of high school and supported himself by working at a nearby golf course. At the age of 18, Adam earned his GED and started working as a commission-only salesman at a large department store. Adam remembers being extremely driven by the fantasy of having the wealth of the store’s regular customers. Adam felt like a “loser” with no skills and no power.

Adam was extremely proactive about resolving his sense of inferiority. He worked tirelessly to learn the fashion industry and sales techniques. His efforts quickly paid off as Adam developed into a very skilled sales professional, with outstanding relationships with each of his top customers. Year after year, Adam’s sales numbers grew. At age 27, Adam was earning approximately 150K annually. While this financial status initially felt freeing, it quickly became unremarkable. Adam continued to struggle with a sense of worthlessness and inferiority.

Believing his emotional distress would be diminished with a more impressive professional life and a full romantic life, Adam pursued both intensely. He quit his sales job and joined an ex-customer in the start-up of a small software company. He also intentionally advanced his dating life. Adam passionately pursed a range of women. Within two years of co-founding the software company, Adam was earning 500K annually and was married with a child. With a thriving business and a growing family, Adam had everything he’d ever wanted. But yet again, he felt insignificant and useless.

This pattern repeated itself over and over again.

Adam could not seem to deal with his internal distress in any other way. At the age of 58, he had transitioned through six jobs, suffered through two divorces, didn’t talk to his siblings, and had almost no relationship with his child. As always, Adam felt worthless and alone. In his late fifties, Adam began struggling with an awareness of his progressing age. He had worked tirelessly to achieve at a high level throughout his life. And yet, at age 58, none of it held any value.
At the time, Adam held a sales director position with a large pharmaceutical company. He was very successful in his role until he became demoralized by his persistent sense of worthlessness. For the first time in his life, Adam’s psychological well-being had a negative impact on his performance at work. He stopped pushing, trying, and developing. His direct employees noticed, market share in his territory dropped dramatically, and underserviced physicians made complaints. In a last-ditch effort to get Adam’s work performance back on track, his employer bought Adam a six-month executive coaching program….

I started my work with Adam wondering what it would have been like to leave home at the age of 16. Because Adam’s mother was unable to support the family, Adam felt responsible for his siblings at a young age. Then, at the age of 16, he made the decision to go out on his own, effectively abandoning the children he supported. Adam was not responsible for his siblings, but I believed a child in Adam’s position would feel a major sense of obligation.

I wondered what it would have been like to make that decision. Did he do it for them? Were they better off with one less mouth to feed, etc.? Was Adam happy with the decision long term? Did he regret the choice? Did he miss his family?  When conceptualizing Adam, I believed his decision to strike out on his own was very important.  Instead of paying attention to the distress caused by his emotional ties to home, he learned to focus on achieving tangible markers of success.  From the age of 16 he was rewarded for pushing his emotion and his vulnerabilities aside.  Goal accomplishments became the most important and temporarily rewarding aspect of his life.  Instead of worrying about his next meal, Adam was making more money than 96% of the U.S. population.

The negative impact of this attitude was Adam’s inability or unwillingness to truly connect with another person. I believe he approached his personal relationships as strategic tasks, just as he approached his job duties. In his late 50’s, when Adam and I began our work together, he had no ability to truly connect with me.

Based on my conceptualization, I focused the first stages of our coaching on relationship development. Specifically, I focused on my relationship with him. This meant spending much of our time discussing my experience of him, in the moment, in our meetings. I worked to model true relationship development and true vulnerability. I believed that if I could help him find purpose and meaning in our relationship, I could help him find purpose and meaning in his external relationships, past accomplishments, and current job duties.

As his coach, how would you work with Adam?  What would you do differently?