The Emotional Intelligence Skills Employers Want Now

Someone on LinkedIn recently asked me, “Is emotional intelligence as important in today’s job market compared to 1995?” when I wrote my first book on the topic.

More important than ever, I’d say. Here’s why.

For one, the global job market is demanding more of prospective employees. And the world’s best employers are not just pickier – they are seeking top graduates who also have emotional intelligence strengths.

Of course high performance in academics and the right technical skills still matter. But in today’s job market the best employers are looking for something in addition. According to Paul Wiseman, economics writer at the Associated Press, the companies also “want graduates with soft skills.” The main ones:

Working well on a team. As one executive once told a McKinsey consultant, “I have never fired an engineer for bad engineering, but I have fired an engineer for lack of teamwork.”

Clear, effective communications. This requires strong cognitive empathy, the ability to understand how the other person thinks. Of course, good listening skills are also important.

Adapting well to change. Such flexibility signifies good self-management.

Smooth interactions with a wide variety of people. This includes customers, clients and workmates from groups different than one’s own, and from other cultures.

Thinking clearly and solving problems under pressure. A combination of self-awareness, focus, and quick stress recovery puts the brain in an optimal state for whatever cognitive abilities are needed.

Professional schools are listening. Yale’s management school recently announced it will add a test of emotional intelligence to its admissions process.