Why Emotional Intelligence Matters in Career Development

By Sharon Graham.

In your practice, you may have encountered clients who consistently have difficulty acquiring and securing good opportunities. Despite having all the required qualifications, they can’t seem to get ahead in their careers. Yet, other people with little education or experience land jobs and promotions more easily. There’s something about their “personal presence” that makes it easier for them to develop and manage their careers. It just might be that competencies related to Emotional Intelligence make the biggest difference in their career progression and performance.

Employers value emotional intelligence because it enhances workplace outcomes. Many well-reputed employers in all sectors invest in Emotional Intelligence (EI) training and Emotional Quotient (EQ) testing as part of their recruitment and retention initiatives. Companies like Microsoft, Pepsi, Dow Chemical, Verizon, Xerox, and Starbucks know that by instituting EI within their corporate culture they will improve overall performance.

Emotional Intelligence

It’s no wonder that researchers have found Emotional Intelligence to be a good predictor of career success. It seems that workers who just do their jobs are satisfactory, but the ones who have personal and social awareness do much better. It makes sense that an employee who has robust integrity, insight, teamwork, and leadership skills will be more effective than one who does not.

While it may not be possible to change a client’s personality, you can enable him to improve his EQ over time. Your goal is to help your clients become more aware of their own emotions and those of others. By becoming more self-aware, your client can learn to manage his response and behaviour in stressful situations. By becoming more cognizant and intuitive about the emotions of others, your clients can form stronger social and business relationships.

EI is the foundation for personal competencies, or “soft skills.” By putting the spotlight on these competencies, you can help your clients to think differently, build self-confidence, become more motivated, and change their behaviours. Here are some specific soft skills on which every client can build:

  • Personal Accountability
  • Ethics and Integrity
  • Decision Making
  • Communication
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Flexibility and Adaptability

Here are some “best practices” to consider when applying EI to your client support:

  • If a client seems intelligent, don’t automatically assume that he has a high EQ. Conversely, if a client lacks education or experience don’t guess that his EQ is low. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is not the same as Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Treat each client as an individual and perform an objective assessment to determine that person’s individual strengths and specific competencies that may require attention.
  • Some occupations, such as employment counsellors, life coaches, social workers, or nurses, need a higher degree of EI than others. Moreover, having a high degree of EI can sometimes negatively affect job performance. For example, if a job is heavily focused on repetitive tasks with little interaction with others, someone with a high EQ might become unfocused and unproductive. Always consider your client’s target market and its “soft skill” requirements.
  • It is quite difficult for most clients to leverage EI when they are going through stressful situations such as a job search. However, if they apply themselves, they will have a much better chance of making a successful career transition. Through consistent coaching, training, and positive reinforcement, you can help your client to move forward effectively.
  • There are many free quizzes available on the Internet which can give clients some insight. Although they can be entertaining, they should not be taken completely at “face” value. Online quizzes can easily be manipulated; rather than answering honestly about yourself, it is just as easy to select the response that you know is “right.” EI testing requires a deep understanding of the field. If you feel that your client needs to be tested, refer him to an experienced, certified, and qualified practitioner.

Raising EQ does not happen overnight, but it can be increased with practice and support. Improvement takes time, focus, consistency, and commitment.

I would like to hear from you. What tools and techniques do you use to enhance your client’s Emotional Intelligence? Emotional Intelligence is discussed in detail in Career Professionals of Canada’s  Certification Study Guides. Learn much more about how you can enhance these soft skills and many others through CPC’s self-study certification programs.




  1. Career/LifeSkills Resources Inc. (www.clsr.ca) carries a selection of books and assessments on emotional intellegence to help you help your clients, including:

    50 Activities for Developing Emotional Intelligence

    The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book

    Emotional Intelligence Works


    The EQ Interview

    Multidimensional Emotional Intelligence Assessment (MEIA)

    Multidimensional Emotional Intelligence Assessment – Workplace (MEIA-W)

  2. Hi Sharon, great post! We have been using the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i 2.0) for the past 15 years, which was the first scientific assessment for EQ in the world in 1997 and was recently re-normed and updated in 2011. It remains the world’s leading psychometric for emotional intelligence and it’s published by a Canadian company – MHS Inc. in Toronto. Using the EQ-i 2.0, clients can learn more about what areas are strengths for them and which areas are targets for development so they increase their ability to both find and keep a job. We offer the certification course to learn to use the EQ-i 2.0 across Canada and we use the tool in organizations to improve leadership.

    Keep up the great work! And if we can ever be of assistance in the area of emotional intelligence, let us know.

    David Cory, M.A.
    Leadership Development Specialist

  3. Hi Sharon – I’ve been studying emotional intelligence over the past few weeks and have been preparing to blog about it. I was pleased to see your blog come through my news feed. The more I read and reflect on EQ the more I realize how it colours every aspect of life. One of the most helpful resources for me so far has been remembering about Daniel Goleman’s visual example of a stop light. RED – stop, take some deep breaths and think about what you are feeling. YELLOW – Slow down to consider appropriate options of how to respond to your emotions. GREEN – Go pick the best option and try it out.
    Thanks for the great post.
    Cheers ~ Miranda

  4. Thank you all for your comments on this post. So glad to hear that there is so much interest in the subject of Emotional Intelligence. I will share a comprehensive post in two weeks with specific tips on how you can enable clients to enhance their Emotional Intelligence in your day-to-day work with client.

    Since there seems to be an interest in resources, I’ll also share that the new Certified Interview Strategist (CIS) eGuide includes a full chapter on EI. It gives practitioners strategies to enable clients to develop their emotional intelligence and apply it towards interviewing.

    The upcoming Certified Employment Strategist (CES) program will address EI in a more comprehensive way with a chapter covering all aspects of career transition. The Certified Career Strategist (CCS) program will address EI from a career development perspective.

    Your number one fan,


  5. Hi Sharon,
    I enjoyed reading your article. As a Consultant in Emotionally Intelligent Job Search, Career & Leadership Development, I would very much concur with what you wrote. As a full time Facilitator for Employment Services I often meet people who have not had to look for work for many years. As a result they do not always realize how much job search has changed.

    I recently wrote a blog on this;
    and would very much appreciate your and other participants’ views on this notion of one’s career now being like having your own business.



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