What matters most to employers when it comes to hiring graduates? This is a question that Patrick Phillips, Postgraduate Career Development & Alumni Officer with the Careers Team at Trinity Business School, is often asked by students and graduates alike. He discusses in his blog piece why it can be argued that emotional intelligence is the most important thing to employers when hiring graduates.
Patrick Phillips, Postgraduate Career Development & Alumni Officer
"I am often asked by students and graduates what matter most to employers when it comes to hiring graduates. Typically, people expect me to say the grades you received in your undergraduate degree, or if you have a second language, or how strong your IT skills are. Of course, these things are important, but arguably there is something that is more important to employers, namely, emotional intelligence.
It is a term that is thrown around a lot on social media and in the press, but there is a big difference between being familiar with a term and truly understanding what it means and how it can impact your career. This is where the problem lies with emotional intelligence in my opinion. Many of us are aware of the term, and have some degree of understanding regarding the topic, however truly understanding and practicing the concept in our careers is a different matter.
Line managers have told me they are always eager to hire emotionally intelligent graduates because they argue that emotionally intelligent people are the easiest to train.
In my opinion, emotionally intelligent graduates can strike a balance between humility and self-confidence, they are also comfortable with owning mistakes and wanting to improve, and they understand the value of collaboration. Emotionally intelligent graduates are prepared to admit when they need help, and they are prepared to take time away from their own duties to support others. They have the remarkable gift of considering another person’s point of view and are able to admit when another idea might be better then their own. They have a rare ability to listen carefully to others and can pick up on subtle indicators as to how another person is feeling.
Emotionally intelligent graduates are resilient; they can cope with high levels of stress while still retaining the qualities listed above. They can accept criticism with good grace and appreciate how constructive criticism can make them better. They don’t ruminate on mistakes made or look for constant reassurance or recognition because they feel secure in their own abilities. They do not feel the need to gossip or denigrate others because they do not feel threatened by other people. They will celebrate the success of a co-worker with sincerity.
These are the traits of a truly emotionally intelligent person in my opinion. When we consider the qualities of people like this, it becomes quite obvious as to why employers but such a value on emotional intelligence. So, if you want to start improving your career prospects, I recommend you start working on your emotional intelligence. Take short courses and read articles and books on the topic. Finally, make sure to reflect this on your LinkedIn page so that employers see that you are taking the topic seriously.
In Spring 2020 I ran a workshop on emotional intelligence for students at Trinity Business School which was a great success. I also interviewed 5 students on emotional intelligence to see what experience they had with the topic in the past. It was interesting to note that none of the students had any exposure to the topic before, which I think is a missed opportunity. Trinity Business School's dedicated postgraduate career service is working to make emotional intelligence training more accessible to our students through further workshops and one-to-one coaching.
Emotional intelligence is a process. I do not think we can ever become fully emotionally intelligent but it is something we can always work on and improve. What matters most to employers is that you demonstrate that you understand its importance and that you are prepared to work on your emotional intelligence on a continual basis and for the rest of your career.