4 minutes read.
Some time ago I wrote an article proposing five steps to help professionals begin their career in a new job market: Embrace the Change, Plan Strategically, Communicate and Network, Do Not Take It Personally, and Measure Your Success. I discussed how the process of transformation can help each of us to learn and grow. Adapting to a new environment requires each person not only to focus on external circumstances, but also shed light on one’s personality traits and competencies.
In this article, I am going to elaborate on my own learning and growth experience through the lens of Daniel Golman’s Mixed Model of Emotional Intelligence . Golman identified five competencies that drive successful outcomes: Self-awareness, Self-regulation, Social Skill, Empathy, and Motivation.
Self-awareness: Embracing change needs a great amount of self-awareness, through which you can become aware of your feelings and your behaviors during a transition. Examine what motivated you to change and what drove you to adapt. Let’s give you and example: one of the most common feelings I noticed in myself and in many other professional immigrants is self-doubt. This leads me to question everything, from my decision to change, to my abilities to overcome the change. What if I made a wrong decision, what if the new environment does not recognize me as a professional, what if I cannot overcome the obstacles, and many more what ifs and uncertainties that question my abilities. One of the greatest tools to overcome these mind-chattering frustrations is to become aware of them. When these feelings surround you, awareness can help you address, and do something about them.
Self-regulation: Being aware of your feelings and emotions can help you manage or redirect your disruptive impulses and adapt to changing circumstances. You can perform a root cause analysis to understand the nature of your feelings and find a way to control, overcome or even benefit from those feelings. For instance, in the case of self-doubt, every time you are rejected for a job position, self-regulation may help you identify dimensions of your personal traits or presentation of professional expertise that you can improve. For example, I like my answers to be comprehensive and detailed. To answer an interview question, I used to explain a lot, and to cover many aspects of my professional experience. However, at some point I realized that I might seem talkative, and distractive, and even professionally shallow. I learned that I should answer precisely and to-the-point. Nobody expected me to know about everything. You can shed light on your dreams and the meaningful purpose that made you want to change. Moreover, you can learn to respect yourself, forgive yourself and enhance your self-compassion. Even disruptive emotions can be redirected to positive and constructive feelings.
Social Skill: In the social network era, developing social skills is not only a value-added personality trait, it is essential to survive. To have a successful transition in a new job market, you need to learn a lot about the new social environment, the organizational culture, the professional languages, the market demands and offers. To do so you can utilize self-awareness and self-regulation to manage and control your interactions with others. Let’s give you another example: at the beginning of my networking I was so confused. I felt I could not convince professionals about my skills. I could not communicate effectively with them in their own language. I then analysed my confusion and came to an insightful conclusion. Like any language, professional ones have dialects depending on what location you are in. My “change management” profession uses terms like process improvement, business transformation, change leadership, system implementation analysis, and organizational development, that have slightly different meanings and scopes in different countries. It took me some time to identify and define the ones relevant to my new job market, add them to my job titles and descriptions on my resume. My new “translated” qualifications helped me find local mentors, become a member of local professional associations and begin networking.
Empathy: Empathy is defined as to “recognize, understand, and consider other people’s feelings especially when making decisions”. When you’ve developed your social skills, you will learn how to place yourself in another person’s position and see the world from their perspective. This helps you especially in job interviews. Study the job position thoroughly, learn about the company you’ve applied to, and find out about its vision and mission statements, strategy, history and economic situation. This enables you to put yourself in the hiring manager’s position, and recognize and understand the challenges they must overcome through the people they have on their team.
Motivation: “Achievements for the sake of achievements”. When I look back it is usually the path of life that astonishes me more than any of the goals I pursued and achieved. My career path, as well, is a huge learning platform. Each challenge is an opportunity for me to learn about myself and others. If you look at your career path or any other path in your life this way, you will be motivated. As you overcome the obstacles and barriers, who you become, rather than what you get, motivates you and gives a sense of fulfillment and happiness.
Psychologists believe the five competencies above are not innate talents. You need to learn and practice them to get better and use them to help you go through your career transition more effectively. It is helping me.
1. Goleman, D. (1998). Working with emotional intelligence. Bantam. http://www.danielgoleman.info/topics/emotional-intelligence/