Krysten Godfrey Maddocks
July 31, 2017
In today's job market, a candidate's EQ might prove to be more important than her IQ. Difficult to quantify, EQ, or emotional intelligence, refers to a person's ability to understand, empathize, and negotiate with others.
According to Travis Bradberry, co-author of the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, "emotional intelligence is the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack."
In fact, Bradberry asserts that 90% of top performers rate high in emotional intelligence, whereas only 20% of bottom performers score high in emotional intelligence. EQ fattens your wallet, too. The link between high EQ and earnings is directly correlated; every point increase in EQ adds a whopping $1,300 to an annual salary.
And just what comprises EQ? EQ is made up of several factors that students don't study in any one class or major. Instead, these so-called "soft skills" can be learned by working in teams on long- or short-term projects, completing internships, or taking on leadership roles.
Sound complicated? According to Rose Winn, assistant director of business development for SNHU Career, EQ is really the intangible measure of a potential employee's personal competence. A person's EQ determines his or her ability to build relationships and navigate those relationships through collaboration and partnership-a necessary skill in today's dynamic workplace.
A member of the SNHU Career team for the past five years, Winn helps forge relationships between undergraduate and graduate students across the country and internationally. Students who take part in the "Ready to Refer" program work with advisors like Winn to secure jobs in their fields. To join this program and secure outreach efforts, students must develop polished resumes, cover letters and portfolios; create a strong professional networking presence online and within their professional associations; and participate in a series of mock interviews.
"Companies still do a lot of speaking toward soft skills, which are highly desirable to employers," Winn said. "The dominant feeling is that anyone can be more or less trained to learn a hard skill. Soft skills are more innate and set you apart from any competition for any role that you are going for."
Although there is no class entitled "EQ," many of the dimensions of EQ into degree programs, Winn said. From reading material to online discussions to projects that require students to work with remote teams, courses call upon students to collaborate, communicate frequently and coach their peers. Winn added that the liberal arts coursework embedded in each program also helps students think critically and develop their soft skills.
"Even if you are majoring in information technology or accounting, I encourage students to dive into those areas as part of their educational experience," Winn said.
The growth of virtual work teams has also ramped up the need for employees to communicate clearly and effectively, particularly when they might work on a team with someone who physically sits half-way across the globe from them. This is where the online experience can really prepare students to lead, motivate, and negotiate, Winn explained.
"Completing online coursework...involves quite a bit of teamwork. Students need to sometimes have tough conversations about team members not pulling weight on a project and determining what they can do to help a team member recognize that he or she is needed," Winn said. "They need to be able to navigate that conversation, share the information, and optimize the chances that the person will receive it well. The instructors are also mindful of the skill sets the students need and help them coach."
For those who feel they have work to do in boosting their EQ, experts say it is possible. Although EQ is not predictable like IQ, it can be acquired and improved with practice.
Krysten Godfrey Maddocks '11 is a writer and marketing/communication professional. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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