Emotional intelligence is a term coined in the 1990s by scientists that is used to describe the ability to understand one’s self and others in order to interact in a healthy and productive manner. There are five major skills common among the emotionally intelligent: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. These five skills are very important in work environments, because individuals with high emotional intelligence tend to collaborate better with others, which is more often than not an unavoidable part of a job.

Here’s an overview of the various areas of emotional intelligence to be aware of and develop as you approach your job search.


This is an integral part of working with others because a person who is self-aware can usually identify his or her weaknesses and take constructive criticism with much more ease than an individual who is not self-aware. Plus, no one wants to hire an employee who is not willing to make changes, and a person who is self-aware is much more likely to strive to improve his or her skills. When a leader is self-aware, she is cognizant of what inspires her, and is therefore bound to be a more effective leader. Being conscious of the ways in which your own mind works is actually the first step in understanding and working with others.


We all know someone whose emotions are out of control, and if that person is someone you work with, you probably already know why self-regulation is an important part of emotional intelligence. Individuals who are self-regulated know how to keep calm even in the most stressful of situations. The importance of self-regulation especially cannot be stressed enough for leaders. Think of it this way – if your boss is freaking out at work, chances are you’ll start freaking out too – and that’s a recipe for disaster.


Motivation seems to speak for itself when it comes to its position in the workplace. With motivation comes resilience and hard work, which is exactly what every boss wants. Keep in mind, though, that the motivation that derives from emotional intelligence comes from a place of self-fulfillment, something that has nothing to do with money or status. The individuals with the right intentions are usually the ones who follow through on all of their endeavors. In other words, this type of motivation is specific to the emotionally intelligent.


Empathy is different from sympathy; when a person is empathetic, he is capable of putting himself in another person’s shoes to understand what he’s feeling. We all know how much of a difference it makes when your boss or coworker is capable of connecting on a real, authentic level, and although showing emotion in the workplace isn’t always ideal, when you need someone to talk things out with it always helps to have an empathetic coworker. A great leader is one who is capable of speaking with and helping others, and the only way to truly do that is with empathy.

Social Skills

Finally, employees with social skills make the workplace an enjoyable place to be. If we were to sit at a desk all day and interact with none of our coworkers, we’d all be miserable. Therefore, an employee who knows how to communicate is an integral part of building relationships at work. Plus, if someone’s job involves communicating with the outside world at all, he or she will not survive without this portion of emotional intelligence. That includes emails and phone calls, too!

Understanding the significance of emotional intelligence is especially important for people who are in the midst of job searching. Being able to display any of the five skills mentioned above in an interview and communication about the opportunity is sure to give you a leg up in the process, so pay close attention to the ways in which you display your emotional intelligence in a professional setting.

Also published on Medium.