Emotional Intelligence 101: Impacting Your Job Search

Demo Day, large group

So many things go into your job search – not the least of which is how you present yourself and how you interact with others. For many, this can be the most daunting part of looking for a new job – it’s not honing the skills that’s scary, it’s wondering whether or not you nailed the interview (or, fearing the 100 ways you didn’t!). At Grand Circus, we want to help folks get BETTER at all of the things that could help them change a career, and we know that improving emotional intelligence is a great way to improve your overall career search success.

The internet holds a lot of intel on emotional intelligence, but we wanted to help make it more specific for career changes and job hunters. Before we can talk about the many ways to improve overall success in your job hunt, we need to make sure that we all understand what emotional intelligence is.

Let’s set a common ground for what emotional intelligence entails. There are two important facets of emotional intelligence – dealing with yourself and dealing with others. In the “dealing with yourself” category we have self-awareness (how am I feeling?) and self-management (am I capable of controlling those feelings?). In the “dealing with others” category, we have social awareness (how are those around me feeling?) and relationship management (how can I use my understanding others’ feelings to positively impact our interaction?). We’ll need to hone all 4 of these skills to positively impact our job search, so let’s look at some examples of how each of those skills might be present in our quest for a new gig.

  • Self-awareness (noticing how you’re feeling in different situations)
    • This networking event makes me feel isolated and lonely.
    • I feel intimidated by the corporate nature of this building.
    • The way others are dressed makes me question my own outfit choice, which makes me worried.
    • I feel overwhelmed by a personal situation that I can’t stop thinking about, even when I’m in professional settings.
  • Self-management (controlling how you feel so that it manifests in socially positive behavior)
    • I know when I’m feeling isolated, I tend to disengage. I will combat that by find at least 3 new people to talk to before I agree to let myself leave this event.
    • I know corporate places make me uncomfortable, so I will do a “dry run” of the neighborhood before my interview and will put on my most corporate outfit so that I don’t feel out of place.
    • When I feel worried about my appearance, I overcompensate by letting my big personality get even bigger and that might not be professional. I will research appropriate dress for this occasion ahead of time and buy one article of clothing that makes me feel both like I fit in and I’m showcasing who I am.
    • I know that when I’m overwhelmed by personal situations, I tend to overshare personal details (unprofessional), so I vow not to use the names of the individuals in my personal situation throughout the duration of this professional event to help me disengage & remain in the moment.
  • Social awareness (picking up on cues from others to understand how others are feeling)
    • Based on this person’s consistent eye contact, focus, and head nodding, I believe she is engaged in our conversation and happy with its direction.
    • Based on the sustained silence that began after I approached this group, I believe that they are displeased or uncomfortable with my arrival.
    • Based on this person’s short responses and lack of follow up questions, I believe that he is disinterested in our interaction, or just being polite.
    • Based on the fact that this person has stopped nodding and I haven’t heard her voice in a while, I may be dominating the conversation and she is bored or irritated.
  • Relationship management (using knowledge of others’ feelings to create positive interpersonal interactions)
    • Because this person has had consistent eye contact, focus and head nodding, I will continue to keep on this conversation’s topic and/or be inquisitive of this person on this topic.
    • Because of the sustained silence that began when I arrived, I will acknowledge my entrance, ask if it’s okay to join them, and ask what they were talking about.
    • Because of this person’s short responses and lack of follow up questions, I will change my behavior from speaking so much to asking more, or will find a way to gracefully exit.
    • Because this person has stopped engaging in our conversation, I will ask her a question on the topic or I will find a way to gracefully exit.

Now that we have a common vocabulary, you need to know where you OWN emotional intelligence stands. See Part two of this series to dig in on ways to improve: Improve Your Emotional Intelligence, Improve Your Job Search