If you’re a job seeker, you probably place a lot of importance on your resume, matching it to positions you see advertised online.
Relevant experience: check.
Skills: check. Additional certifications preferred: check check check.
Add a well-written, convincing cover letter, and your hook, line, and bait are cast.
All of these are important in your job search. In fact, they can set you apart from applicants who don’t pay as close attention to the details of the job description, or how they write their resume.
But what ultimately matters has less to do with academic credentials and experience and more to do with likeability.
“Book smarts” don’t always translate into “people smarts.”
Have you been passed over for a job or promotion by someone less qualified? Sometimes, the reasons are beyond our control (budget cuts, restructuring). Sometimes, it’s because we aren’t part of the “in-crowd.” And sometimes, it’s a matter of chemistry or cultural fit. Many times, it boils down to personality trumping talent.
What can you do about it? Sometimes nothing. And sometimes, you need to be honest with yourself.
How likeable are you?
Contrary to popular belief, being likeable isn’t something we’re born with (like charisma), nor is it a medal bestowed upon a lucky few. Being likeable is something we control. It’s a matter of Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
It takes a lot of maturity to be realistic about your own weaknesses (and likeability), and it takes even more maturity to invest time and energy to work on resolving them. Many otherwise competent professionals fail to do this, or are simply unaware that it is necessary.
It may not be what or who you know
In school, we’re taught that success is what we know. As we get older, we begin to realize that success is also who we know.
There’s a third factor too: how well we use the first two factors. This is our ability to perceive, understand, and regulate our emotions. It’s also sensing what others are feeling and knowing how to react in order to reduce tension and conflict, and promote “win-win” relationships. To survive and thrive in the workplace, we need to be able to draw on these skills at the right time.
“EQ gets you through life; IQ gets you through school.”
Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is a measurement of one’s mental “horsepower”, cognitive capacity, or, in other words, one’s ability to think and reason. Studies suggest that though IQ may have a casual influence on academic achievement, it does not have a statistically significant influence on job performance.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ), is a measurement of how effectively we recognize our own emotions and those of others, how we interact with and engage with others, and how well we cope with our daily demands.
EQ is a major building block to effective collaboration, communication, and teamwork, and thus has a strong impact on the business world. Navigating the “human factor” is perhaps more important than technical or job-related skills. In fact, organizational research consistently proves that EQ is essential for success in today’s workplace.
While IQ remains stable throughout one’s life, EQ can be learned and improved. And so can likeability.
EQ ≠ Likeable
…but being likeable has a lot to do with EQ. And being likeable is key to getting hired and promoted.
So what is likeability? According to Tim Sanders, author of The Likeability Factor, likeability comes down to 4 critical elements of personality:
- Friendliness: Your ability to communicate liking and openness to others
- Relevance: Your capacity to connect with others’ interests, wants, and needs
- Empathy: Your ability to recognize, acknowledge, and experience other people’s feelings
- Realness: The integrity that stands behind your likeability and guarantees its authenticity
What’s more, TalentSmart research data shows that people who possess these qualities aren’t just highly likeable – they outperform, by a large margin, those who don’t possess these qualities.
Become more Likeable: Enhance your EQ
Yes, intelligence matters. But if you’re not likeable, your chances of landing a good job and getting a good promotion are slim. You’ll have a greater chance of success if you can master your likeability – and that means enhancing your EQ.
Here’s how you can start:
- Friendliness. Many of us are so focused on ourselves that we don’t take the time to notice others. To be likeable, you have to let your guard down a little bit and show that you’re a nice person.
EQ Connection. Warm up your face, note your body language, pay attention to what others are saying and make them feel at ease. This ultimately helps others feel appreciated, encouraging solid relationships built on confidence and trust.
- Relevance. We become relevant to others when we’re genuinely interested in and intrigued by them. This gives us a better shot at capturing the attention of others, and others are more likely to remember us and hear what we say.
EQ Connection. Take notice of what makes people tick. Make an effort to talk to people in-depth – without preconceived notions. Emotionally Intelligent people are curious about others and fascinated by human behavior. They ask questions to get to know people, and once they do, they’re generous and non-judgmental.
- Empathy. People whose primary focus is themselves aren’t very likeable. On the other hand, people who are able to step outside themselves and understand and relate to others rate much higher on the likeability scale.
EQ Connection. Regardless of how you’re feeling inside, there are some things you can do on the outside – such as making nice gestures toward others and offering compliments – to demonstrate empathy and build rapport. Emotionally Intelligent people are able to easily put themselves in the shoes of another, and their words and actions are genuine (they don’t come across as fake!).
- Realness. Authenticity and genuineness (not expertise) inspires trust and credibility. When you’re open and honest, others won’t have to guess your motivations or intentions; they’ll trust what they see.
EQ Connection. Focusing on your credibility requires boosting your self-awareness. Emotionally intelligent people are willing to talk about themselves in a candid, non-defensive manner. They also recognize how their feelings and behavior affect others, providing them control over potentially alienating behavior.
Your likability has an enormous impact on your perceived value. Not hired? No, it’s probably not “you”, but your EQ.
Edythe Richards is a Certified EQ-i 2.0/EQ-i 360 Practitioner, Myers-Briggs® Master Practitioner, and Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW).