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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, Professor Emeritus of the School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra.

Emotional intelligence and employment

Fri, 06 May 2016 11:00:00 +0000 Published in El Diario Montañés

After their first " workinterviews" many young graduates make a belated finding : what companies value most nowadays is not what they expected (IQ along with academic skills and abilities), but the way we relate to ourselves and to others. 

In this interpersonal relationship there is the possibility of developing a whole series of emotional competencies: initiative, creativity, adaptability, persuasiveness, empathy, self-control, self-motivation, self-improvement, decision-making and teamwork skills. These qualities are the main criteria that determine who will be hired and who will not, who will be promoted within a business and who will not.

Daniel Goleman describes cases of candidates for a first employment who, thanks to possessing that subject of emotional competencies, were more successful in the workplace than other academically better competitors. For example, the following: "Matt was student from Yale and had done the same programs of study as Penn and, although he was not as academically brilliant as Penn, he had obvious interpersonal skills that made him likeable to everyone. It was because of this that, of the eight interviews he attended when he finished degree program, he ended up receiving seven offers from work and eventually achieved success in his professional field, while Penn, on the other hand, was fired from his first employment after two years." 

Does all this mean that in the learning process, cognitive abilities should be relegated in favor of emotional ones? For Goleman, "emotional intelligence skills are synergistic with respect to cognitive ones, and "star" workers have both".

Today's companies are looking for workers who are not conservative, who do not stick to the status quo, who appreciate the new. They want people capable of adapting to change and facing new situations (for example, working with a new product, in another city or country, with a different boss or team). This behavior denotes that they possess an intelligence internship that harmoniously combines thought and emotion, head and heart. I am referring to emotional intelligence.

Professor McClelland of Harvard University interviewed several thousand workers considered "superstars" at purpose to find out what common traits characterized them and explained their optimal performance at work. He found that this common factor was emotional intelligence, manifested above all in work in teamwork and in adapting to change.

Hendrie Weisinger found that there is a high correlation between emotional intelligence and success in professional life. That is why he stressed the need to be emotionally intelligent. "Emotional intelligence is the intelligent use of emotions; we intentionally make our emotions work for us, using them to help guide our behavior and thinking in ways that improve our results." 

The companies of consultancy service are attaching great importance in their selection processes to some competencies pertaining to emotional intelligence:

We try to find out through tests the emotional intelligence of candidate: how he reacts to possible problems, how he behaves with group, how he prioritizes when he is overloaded, how he leads a discussion, etc." (Statement by James Hervey, advisor to NBI Consulting).

The most important thing for us is not academic preparation, we want, above all, people capable of working in a team" (Statement by Juan Mateo, director of Ernst Young Consulting).

The young person who has made an effort to develop emotional skills has an advantage over others in finding a employment. I will highlight three skills that are very necessary during the search for employment: optimism, self-confidence and self-control.

That subject of skills can be better exercised with some of the programs or courses of training work that universities offer to their students. In them, skills are developed by applying them. Whoever successfully completes one of them goes from being a employment applicant to being a employment provider; he/she has something to offer to the organizations.

In today's changing world of work, the priority for those who are not yet working should no longer be the employment itself, but being an employable person. Employability is the possibility for a given person to find employment in a constantly changing labor market. What subject of preparation does this skill require? I suggest the one that contains four characteristics:

1. Broad and diversified preparation, allowing for the solution of any new problem that may arise; 

2. Keep up to date in learning new technologies; 

3. Knowing how to communicate: capacity for interpersonal relations and for work in team;

4. Willingness to mobility work: to go to work.