Graduates have always hoped that their degree in itself would be a passport to a top job and to career advancement but, as everyone knows, qualifications are only part of the picture.
I have recently attended a number of conferences and events that focussed on employability and all the speakers in the field have a similar theme – emotional intelligence (EQ) is a better predictor of success than qualifications (or IQ).
That’s not to say that a good degree is not highly valued – it is! It’s just that it may open the door but what gets you hired (and promoted) is the value you add over and above this.
One excellent speaker on this theme is the psychologist and leadership expert Dr Martyn Newman. His conference theme was “Emotional Intelligence in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world”. In his words, “people do business with you in direct proportion to how you make them feel”. Emotional Intelligence is increasingly seen as integral to business success and leadership excellence.
Newman gave an example from a financial sector client that he worked with. The company had problems with high staff turnover. Newman’s assessment was that their recruitment criteria were selecting highly qualified and capable employees but were not aligned to the traits of the people who got the best results and stayed with the business. He recommended that they change their recruitment criteria to be based on an optimism score. This was based on research that shows that optimism, or a “growth mindset” is more positively correlated with success than high IQ. This had a huge impact on the client’s business success with new staff selling more policies and staying longer. In short, they were more resilient and this helped them to perform in the job.
Graduates should be able to demonstrate much more than your ability to understand and apply theoretical models. You should be able to articulate how your time at Glasgow enhanced your self-awareness and helped you to build resilience so that you can make sense of complexity and ambiguity, abilities that add value to any employer.
So, what really gets you hired? Evidence that you understand your strengths, have a growth mindset (you are optimistic and enthusiastic) and have built your resilience so that you can tackle uncertainty and problems head on.