Resume Tips for Engineers Over 40

In study after study, more and more engineers over forty are reporting age bias in their job search and engineers are increasingly wondering what they have to do to get a job in the second half of their careers.

According to a recent survey by ExecuNet, 84% of those polled said that age discrimination is a serious problem in today’s marketplace. Additional interesting results from the survey included:

  • 65% of engineers surveyed said they had encountered age discrimination in a job search — up from 58% who expressed that view in 2001
  • 94% felt their age had resulted in their being eliminated for a particular position
  • 40% feared they would be forced into early retirement
  • 72% feared being victimized by age discrimination
  • 36% feared they were getting too old to find a new job

As a technical recruiter for the past twelve years, I see age bias on a regular basis, and some employers are not shy about openly expressing their bias to me or even candidates.

I’ve had more than a few candidates tell be that have been passed over due to their age. And these are only people that know age bias was the issue. Many employers use fake excuses or vagueness to cover up the real reason why they don’t want to interview you. Others just don’t even respond back to your resume submission. Why do some employers pass up qualified, skilled, experienced engineers? Some employers believe that older people are more costly to an employer since, health care costs are higher. They also think they may not be able to develop or use cutting edge technology. The “old dog, new tricks” adage has a lot of validity in many older employees. Thus, your mission is to overcome these concerns. But you can’t overcome them, if you can’t get in the door. It all begins with the resume.

So here are some resume tips that will help you get in the door and in front of the decision maker.

Seasoned engineers need to carefully craft their resume so that the resume reviewer does not encounter red flags that trip age bias. You should consider these tips when preparing your resume:

1. Focus your resume. Concentrate on highlighting your two most recent or relevant jobs. Do not attempt to give equal attention to each of your past jobs especially when your experience has been diverse. Focus your resume on the position you are applying to. Resume reviewers can’t read between the lines. General, wordy, or ambivalent resumes will be overlooked. Focus and concentrate.

2. Tailor your resume to the specifics of the position you are seeking. If you are applying for a Director of Engineering position and your resume is one long paragraph about your business development experiences, you aren’t going to be selected for an interview.

3. Do not write a “functional” resume for a recruiter/headhunter. The functional resume rearranges employment history into sections that highlight areas of skill and accomplishment VS the chronological resume which is organized by job titles with the most recent position listed first. Recruiters are trained to red flag a functional resume – alerting us that the candidate is attempting to hide something. Functional resumes generally indicate that the candidate is hiding an employment gap, lack of a degree or their age. Send a chronological resume. If you have an employment gap, explain it. Show how it is relevant. Employers what to see that you were doing something if you were unemployed. Were you consulting? Were you looking for work? Or were you sitting on the couch watching TV?

4. Structuring your resume. Structure your resume with a one sentence statement about the size of the company you worked at and what they do. Although you may have worked for XYZ Company, many people have no idea what that company does, or what its size. This is very relevant to a potential employers’ decision making.


Sr. Product Developer (title should be in bold) 1999 – present

XYZ Company

A $10 Million RF consumer product company.

5. Do not include work experience before 1980. It is generally not relevant anyway. If you were a tradesman back in 1973, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out your approximate age and eliminated you from the selection process.

6. List technical skills and your degrees. Don’t add college or trade school graduation dates to your resume. If you list that you earned your EE degree in 1973, it’s pretty easy to figure out how old you are.

7. Always, always be truthful on your resume. If you didn’t earn a degree, don’t say that you did. The trick is not volunteering information that will identify your age and cause your resume to be eliminated before you get the chance to interview and prove what an asset you can be to a potential employer.

8. Don’t write an objective or summary introductory paragraph. It’s a waste of time and space and no one reads them, nor does anyone care that you want to expand your horizons, or that you think you are skilled, talented, a go-getter, sexy, or anything else. This information will be confirmed by your reference checks.

9. Be specific. Use bullet points, and list achievements that show that you have increased revenues or saved past employers’ money. Employers only care about how you are going to be an asset to them – either make them money or save them money. Be specific.

10. Avoid dated words, clich├ęs, and weak words such as; people person, self-starter, and go-getter. Instead, use dynamic action/achievement words.

Instead of “maintained” production use: Improved production by 35% in 2007

Instead of “worked on” a project use: Designed and developed xyz product

(Obviously your statements have to be true)

Other “action” verbs to use; accelerated, achieved, created, lead a team, developed, designed, demonstrated, increased, implemented, organized, re-engineered, and saved.

11. Show that you recover from downturns with few scars. Give examples of how you solved problems, recovered expenses, and learned to compensate for weaknesses in your organization. Emphasize how quickly such adjustments occurred. This experience can be invaluable in difficult times.

12. Use buzzwords, keywords, and industry terminology. These words can show your familiarity with important issues in the industry to which you are applying. This tip certainly applies to all job seekers, but for seasoned engineers, you will appear especially unknowing if you can't talk the talk.

13. List continued education. Future employers prefer if you’ve continued to educate and train yourself throughout your career. Many companies take preference to people that continue their education and training. This tells a potential employer “hey, I’ve got experience PLUS I’ve continued to educate myself”. Will an advanced degree help you get a new job? Maybe. It depends on the employer. Advanced degrees never hurt, and if you went to night school while working full time, this tells the employer that you are dedicated, focused, and have a strong work ethic.

14. Say NO to one page resumes. If anyone tells you that you need a one page resume…run! Seasoned engineers should have 2-3 page resumes, and this is perfectly acceptable. Most “professional” resume writers are former English teachers or people that which are not out working in the trenches. Before paying a resume writer, ask for his/her qualifications or ask for a referral. What worked ten years ago doesn’t work today. A resume is a marketing piece. Created and written to get you in the door for an interview. It is not a biography. Write it showing experience relevant to the position you are applying for. It’s ok to have more than one version of your resume, each specific for a different position.

Also, keep an active lifestyle. Companies don’t like to hire health risks. Many people in their 50’s and 60’s work hard and play hard. Many can out race, out run, and out work people half their age. Join the health club, get out and hike, boat, and bike. I know a 60 year old VP of Engineering that mountain bikes every weekend. He loves it. And it keeps him active, healthy, and fresh.

Networking. Network on an ongoing basis with peers, former colleagues, former bosses, and members of online or offline industry organizations. When the time comes, someone who knows you and your work will be in a good position to recommend you for a job. Their recommendation will do a lot to neutralize the power of age concerns. On-line networking is critical as well. Professional networks such as Linked-In, and trade networks such as IEEE, and are all good places to meet potential employers and allow them to find you.

Once you receive interest from a potential employer, what’s next?

How do you handle the interview to make your age insignificant?

Preparation is the key to a successful interview An ill prepared candidate will interview soft. Did the candidate do their due diligence researching the company before interviewing? Did they spend 5 minutes, or five hours on the company web site? Did they have a list of questions prepared and organized into groups for rapid fire answers? In today's interviewing process, you MUST be prepared - this includes preparing for phone and face-to-face interviews.

1. Interview Preparation. Research the company. Be able to intelligently talk about the company's current challenges and initiatives. Use your 'extensive experience' and 'large knowledge base' to think about ways in which you could benefit the company going forward. Use Google, ZoomInfo and local trade associations to discover the company’s culture, people, as well as their financials, products, and history.

2. Study interviewing questions and answers. Our website, along with others on the internet, provides typical interviewing questions and answers that you should review. Rehearse your answers. Practice, practice, practice. This is your career and future job – invest some time preparing for it. Most people don’t interview every day. They are not professionals at it. They need guidance and practice. Did you know most people invest more time into planning their next vacation than they do in preparing for their next job?

3. What can you bring to this organization? Just wanting a job isn’t enough. What asset can you bring to the table that will make them want to hire you? Be specific. If you can’t, research their company and find out. Learn everything you can about the company before you walk in the door.

4. Join Toastmasters. “What? Are you nuts?” You heard me correctly. Toastmasters or other speaking organizations give you the opportunity to learn to speak “impromptu” – on the spot. They also teach you breathing control, gestures, body movements, posture, and you can have a lot of fun doing it too.

5. Practice watching yourself talk in front of a mirror. Pay attention to your walk, talk, posture, and stance. These things reflect how you feel about yourself, how you carry yourself, your self image, and eventually – how you will reflect on others as a representative of the company.

6. Physical Appearance. I have a goatee with a large amount of grey in it. If I were going to an interview, I would color my goatee to get the grey out. I recommend this for you as well. If you have grey hair, get it colored. You may say, “If they don’t like me for who I am, I’m not interested”. This is the same attitude as the “old dog new tricks” adage and will prevent you from receiving an offer. Buy a new suit (classic or business casual) and dress the part. If the company is a young, entrepreneurial company; interviewing in a suit and tie may not be appropriate. Find out. If you can’t, call the receptionist and ask. Wear matching socks. Polish your shoes. Color coordinate. Comb your hair. Get help if you need advice. You don’t want to appear like the absent minded professor. And always, pop a breath mint when you arrive in the lobby.

7. Body language in the Interview. Present yourself as vigorous and energetic. Avoid leaning back and looking too relaxed.

8. Interview strategy related to age. Legal considerations will probably prevent an interviewer from asking your age. However, he or she may well be thinking about it. So stress the value-added benefits you offer as an experienced professional. Give examples of how you used your experience to avoid costly errors and false starts. Give examples of cases in which your judgment and experience made money, saved money, or solved problems.

9. Don’t appear to be the “old dog” which can’t be taught any new tricks. Provide examples of how you have worked in recent team environments and taught AND learned from your peers – younger or older than you.

10. Don’t offer a solution to their specific problems. You are not intimately knowledgeable about all the specifics of a company’s problem. Only offer solutions to similar situations you have experienced and frame your language in that context.

11. Know your relevant accomplishments. Be able to talk about your accomplishments that are relevant to the position.

12. Breathe. You will naturally be nervous, so take a breath. Be specific and to the point in your answers. Do not ramble on or talk fast trying to get everything in. If you give an example, make it short, and to the point. Be specific.

13. Listen when being spoken too. Don’t interrupt. This is another pet peeve of hiring executives and can eliminate you from consideration.

14. Thank them for their time and consideration. Test close – ask a leading question such as “where do we go from here?” The interviewer should give you an idea of how you interviewed and an overview of the remainder of the hiring process.

15. Send a thank you note. Hand written notes are best, time permitting. You would be amazed at how few interviewers ever receive a thank you for their time. So when you send a thank you, you stand out from the other candidates. This also gives you a chance to reiterate how you can be an asset to the company, the interviewer and their team. Take advantage of this opportunity to promote yourself one more time.


Gary Perman is a certified recruiting professional and a twelve year veteran in the recruiting industry. He owns a national search firm called Perman Technical Group, that specializes in recruiting technology executives, managers and engineers. Gary is also a member of the SAO and IEEE and runs a technology blog at Contact Gary at or visit his Linked-In profile at or his website at


Global IT Talent Crunch

There's a worldwide IT talent and skills shortage, according to the IT Governance Institute's just released massive study, "IT Governance Global Status Report." The study can be downloaded at its Web site,

The most severe IT-related problems facing CIOs and CEOs worldwide are insufficient staff and inadequate staff skills, problems delivering IT services, high IT costs relative to ROI and problems with outsourcers. Thirty-eight percent were experiencing problems with inadequately skilled staff and 58 percent with too few IT staff. The latter is a big jump from 35 percent in 2005. (It doesn't help, here in the US and Canada, that technology training spending is inching up by only 5.3 percent according to our new IT Spending Survey, and a mere 2.7 percent at companies over $1 billion in revenues.) The ITGI's findings indicate that IT labor costs will increase, whether that labor is obtained from full-time workers or outsourcers. Our own research explains why so many IT workers who become unemployed stay unemployed: CIOs are unwilling to invest in the training that's needed to move them to new roles or work with new technologies.

There's plenty of other interesting data from 749 CEOs and CIOs on 23 countries on every continent but Antarctica. Here's the report's executive summary, with some additional information taken from other parts of the report, and some of my own comments thrown in:

1. Although championship for IT governance within the enterprise comes from the C-level, in daily practice, IT governance is still very much a CIO/IT director issue. The few non-IT people in the sample have a much more positive view of IT than do the IT professionals themselves.
2. The importance of IT continues is increasing - 63 percent now say it's "very important" to strategy, up six points from 2005 and 11 from 2003. In North America, the figure is 60 percent. (Gartner's top analysts make the same argument IT also appears regularly or always on board agenda's at 70 percent of respondents' companies.
3. Self-assessment regarding IT governance has increased and is quite positive. There's been a huge jump in capability here: 54 percent gave their company a positive or very positive rating in the new survey, up to a 16 point increase from the 2005 study.
4. Communication between IT and users is improving, but slowly. Fifty -nine percent of IT departments always or regularly notify business executives about potential business opportunities they've uncovered. That's a lot of lost opportunity - both for business, and for CIOs and IT departments to improve their reputation.
5. There is still substantial room for improvement in the alignment between IT governance and corporate governance--as well as for IT strategy and business strategy. Just 19 percent say alignment between IT strategy and business strategy is very good.
6. IT-related problems persist. While security/compliance is an issue, people are the most critical problem.
7. Good IT governance practices are known and applied, but not universally.
8. Organizations know who can help them implement IT governance, but appreciation for the available expertise and delivery capability is only average.
9. Action is being taken or plans are underway to implement IT governance activities. A large increase is evident when compared to the 2006 report.
10. Organizations use the well-known frameworks and solutions.
11.COBIT awareness has exceeded 50 percent, and adoption and use remain around 30 percent.

The Institute is the research branch of ISACA, a not-for-profit association concerned with IT governance and auditing.

Gain Ground in a Slowing Economy

Upgrade your personnel
Take stock of your staff with an eye to increase both your available cash and your profitability. Are some executives or team members not adding value to your company? It might be time to think about which of the weaker performers can be replaced by high performers.

“Divide employees into three categories,” says turnaround expert and Vistage speaker Edmond Freiermuth. “ ‘A’ performers are motivated, highly skilled and indispensable under all but the most draconian scenarios. ‘B’ performers are less experienced but up-and-comers able to handle new responsibilities. ‘C’ performers should only keep their jobs during periods of strong economic growth. The split among these employees is roughly 10 percent, 80 percent and 10 percent, respectively. The C performers are the ones who should be let go if your business experiences ongoing or escalating challenges.”

Be aware, though, that laying off decent workers can be a double-edged sword, warns DePaul University Finance Professor Bill Poppei. “The natural reaction of companies is to start eliminating personnel. They look for variable costs to eliminate, and human labor is usually the most expendable.”

Getting rid of good employees comes with its own costs. “When you fire people,” Poppei says, “all the money you put into their training goes out the window.”

Increase your “connect quotient” with your employees
Your employees may be as nervous or embroiled in a downturn as you are. That’s why you should consider hosting employee seminars on topics such as “The Care and Feeding of Your Credit,” “Preventing Home Loan Default and Foreclosure,” and “Negotiating the Foreclosure Process.” These programs will be of significant short-term or long-term value to your employees who may be facing great uncertainty.

Programs like these show the employees that the employers care about their lives, their families and their future. Employees who are acknowledged and feel cared about tend to return the sentiment in positive forms to their employer. “Offer a Credit Workshop for Your Employees

Stay Connected: Offer a Credit Workshop for Your Employees

By Bill Evans, President, Institute of Professional Training

Today, it is virtually impossible to complete the day without enduring the cacophony of credit crisis news. Whether in newsprint, Internet blogs or on TV, the breakdown of our lending system and the sub-prime/credit crisis occupies top billing. Many parts of the country are experiencing the highest home foreclosure rates ever seen. The fallout from the credit and housing crises will be felt across a broad spectrum of the U.S. population, not just those with low or mediocre credit scores. That spectrum includes your employees.

You can create an opportunity out of the crisis by hosting an in-house, informal educational program entitled “The Care and Feeding of Your Credit.” Taking a proactive approach to your employees’ well being and awareness should have a positive impact for everyone involved.

Basics of the Program
This session can be covered in less than 60 minutes as an informational effort to educate your employees on the ins and outs of credit. The more they know about how their credit standing impacts future borrowing efforts, the better position they will be in when the need arises. By developing such a program, you indicate your concern and connectedness to them as important human beings. They win and you win.

The program should be made available to all employees, not just those who may have credit difficulties; encourage broad participation. The announcement of the meeting should be worded carefully so that it does not appear to be a program for people with bad credit, as some employees with a fear of being stigmatized may not attend. Plan for the core content to be no more than 60 minutes, and allow some extra time for questions and answers. Consider inviting a guest from a credit reporting agency to deliver part of the presentation, while a member of your management team hosts the talks. Here is a sample outline of the points you might cover:

Agenda for “The Care and Feeding of Your Credit”

What is a FICO score?
a) How is it created?
b) What is measured?
c) What is a good score and a bad score?

Factors that affect your score
a) Payment history 35%
b) Outstanding debt 30%
c) Length of credit history 15%
d) Recent inquiries on your report 10%
e) Types of credit in use 10%

Ways you damage your credit score
a) Late payments
b) Close to or over credit limit
c) Short or no credit history
d) Home loan default or foreclosure

Ways to increase your credit score
a) Pay your bills on time
b) Don’t carry credit card balances, or keep them low
c) Don’t open new credit cards that you don’t need
d) Closing an account does not erase its history

Fixing damaged credit
a) Writing the credit agency
b) Writing the creditor
c) Waiting (negative information lasts seven years on your report)

How to obtain and read your report
a) How to order your report
b) How to read it

Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) or other resources for those who fall into financial trouble
a) Explain company resources available
b) Explain their cost, if any
c) Explain how to access them

At the start of the program, distribute a one-page outline that allows the participants to easily follow what is being discussed. Include the telephone number or Web site of your Employee Assistance Program (if you have one) or the contact information of someone who can help employees facing credit or foreclosure issues. Additionally you can list these resources:

1) Federal Trade Commission’s credit repair information
2) A Web site that offers free credit reports (one from each of the three major reporting companies per person per year)
3) A sample dispute letter to credit agencies (included at the end of this article)

The Benefits
Holding a credit management program like this sends a meaningful message to your employees that your company cares about their lives, their families and their future. That intention is a powerful endorsement of your concern as a CEO or manager. The success of your employees, both personally and professionally, should happen by design and not by accident.

Bill Evans is the founder of the Institute of Professional Training. He can be reached at and

See more articles in the special series Managing in an Uncertain Economy

Sample dispute letter and credit agency addresses:


Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code

Complaint Department
Name of Company
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. The items I dispute also are encircled on the attached copy of the report I received.

This item (identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.) is (inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why). I am requesting that the item be deleted (or request another specific change) to correct the information.

Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records, court documents) supporting my position. Please investigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct) the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.

Your name

Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing)

Credit agency addresses

P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374

TransUnion LLC
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022

P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013

How to hire smart people who understand more than just the job

In the business world, we are always looking for ways to gain advantage over the competition. For many years organizations thought that bright, intelligent people were the key to superior performance. But “book smarts,” in the form of high IQs or stellar GPAs, we now know, don’t always translate to equally exemplary job performance. The connection is limited at best.

An intelligence quotient (IQ) is a measure of cognitive capacity--one’s ability to think and reason. IQ usually does not change much after the age of 12 to 15. Many non-manual jobs require an above-average IQ; that is, they have “a high IQ threshold.” But hiring people with high IQs is not a guarantee that they will perform well in the position.

The answer to why that is may rest in a conversation that took place between two psychology professors, John Mayer and Peter Salovey, in 1987. Salovey, of Yale University, and Mayer, of the University of New Hampshire, were discussing a particular, bumbling politician and poised the question: How could someone so smart act so inexplicably dumb? They came to the conclusion that good decision-making requires more than intellect or what we normally think of as IQ. Mayer and Salovey soon developed the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ).

Dan Goleman picked up on the theme in his 1995 best-selling book Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ. One of the seminal studies of Goleman’s book involved star performers at the prestigious Bell Laboratories near Princeton University. Managers were asked to identify the top performers among the engineers and scientists that worked there. All of the engineers and scientists were presumed to have high IQs to perform their jobs, yet some emerged as outstanding, while others were just average.

Goleman used standard IQ and personality tests on both groups and found no substantial cognitive difference between the stars and the average workers. Based on this study, Goleman wrote in the Harvard Business Review that academic talent was not a good predictor of on-the-job productivity, nor was IQ.

After detailed interviews, the social scientist detected critical differences. The stars had built networks of key people. They used their strong interpersonal skills to create informal teams of competent people who they could rely on when needed. The same interpersonal skills helped them build harmony among their co-workers and managers. Goleman saw this team-building skill as a requisite for superior performance.

Goleman’s research led him to conclude that leaders drive action by building relationships, recognizing their own emotions, responding to the needs of others and by revealing their own mistakes. He termed these traits emotional intelligence (EQ) and defined it generally as the ability to recognize, understand, use and manage emotions in oneself and in others. Unlike cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence can be taught and learned.

Key traits of emotional intelligence
People with high EQs tend to have five qualities or competencies in common:

  • Optimism--ability to anticipate the best possible outcome of events or actions
  • Self-Awareness--knowledge of current emotional state, strengths and weaknesses
  • Empathy--understanding of others’ points of view and decision-making processes
  • Impulse Control--ability to mitigate an urge to act (as in: think first and act later)
  • Reality Testing--ability to see things as they are, not as we want them to be

The more of the qualities and person possesses, and the more they use them, the higher EQ they typically have.

Moodiness and leadership
Do moody leaders make better leaders? The answer is: it depends on the prevailing mood. Is the leader optimistic and happy, or pessimistic and depressed? Few people will give their full support to a gloomy, cynical leader, at least for very long. Their negative nature, not to mention lack of positive feedback, leads to high workplace turnover and may even cause some malcontents to sabotage an organization in revenge.

Happiness—and the attractive aura it produces—is both an emotion and a mood enhancer. The latest research indicates that happy people enjoy life more and live longer than unhappy people. No surprise, since content people focus on the positive and surround themselves with like people – not to mention they are more willing to embrace change. The “mantle of happiness” is thought to influence people simply because happiness attracts attention. Now we also know something else: Happiness has an observable, positive impact on productivity.

This might all sound obvious, and yet how often do executives hire or promote managers who fail to connect with or motivate their employers?

I spent 27 years hiring managers, who, in turn, hired sales and administrative people. My own observation indicates that a little dissatisfaction or unhappiness with the past and/or the current state is often a good thing. Managers and leaders who are always happy with the current situation are not too motivated to change it. Many successful entrepreneurs and leaders are happy but dissatisfied with the current state. The dissatisfaction drives them to create change or make something better.

Another mood that impacts results is optimism--the view of the world as a positive place and the future as bright and achievable. An optimistic mood is almost a necessary quality among leaders, as it imbues their language with hope and possibility for desired outcomes.

Differentiating between the true optimist and pessimist is easy, according to Joshua Freedman, author of The Art of Leadership: How to Get Results with Emotional Intelligence. Freedman claims the optimist looks at an unsettling state as temporary, isolated and changeable while the pessimist views it as permanent, pervasive and immutable. Optimists see the possibility of change and pessimists see the chains of the present.

The moods of a leader are important because moods are contagious and move swiftly from person to person. A leaders’ predominate mood often becomes the mood of the organization, which can determine long-term success or failure.

Optimism, anxiety, depression and confidence are long-lasting states of being that endure great time spans. Emotions tend to be shorter lived and triggered by events. However, our mood often determines our emotional response to an event. When we encounter an event that requires emotional skills, our ability is either diminished or enhanced by our mood.

Benchmarking and testing for EQ
The difference between a manager and a leader is typically 90 percent EQ skills. Managers are often appointed to their positions not because of their management skills but because of their knowledge and experience. Some mangers go on to become great leaders, while others become only good managers–and some don’t even do that.

To use EQ as a hiring tool, many companies benchmark a position’s top and bottom performers for emotional intelligence. The benchmarking process identifies traits that are present in top performers and absent in the bottom rank. Companies can then test potential candidates for those traits or EQ competencies required by the job.

Two tests are available that effectively measure a person’s EQ. The MSCEIT, developed by Mayer, Salovey and David Caruso, was the first EQ test. A more updated test was
developed by Rueven Bar-On, a psychologist who coined the term “emotional quotient.” The Bar-On model (more widely used and validated than the MSCEIT) tests in five general areas:

  • Intra-Personal – ability to be aware of, manage, and express emotions
  • Inter-Personal – ability to initiate and maintain relationships with others
  • Adaptability – ability to be flexible, solve problems and be realistic
  • Stress Management – ability to tolerate stress and control impulses
  • General Mood – happiness and optimism levels

I like to approach the identification of EQ competencies essential to a job from both external and internal viewpoints. The external approach requires a carefully crafted, facilitated session where five to seven people in an organization are tapped for their insight into the EQ competencies they believe are needed for superior job performance in a particular position. The internal approach involves assessing superior performers currently on the job to see what competencies dominate. Ideally, an organization should do both and combine the results, but often the job is new and has no incumbent to assess. In that case, an organization can rely on the external results alone.

The above approach allows for both applicants and incumbents to be assessed and matched against benchmarks. The goal is to give a clear, quantifiable picture of what drives performance in a particular job, and also to identify opportunities to leverage strengths and manage around individual weaknesses.

Most organizations want, but do not have, superior performers. By learning more about EQ, mapping job candidates to benchmarks and creating a more intentional hiring process your organization can happily be an exception.

Stephen Blakesley is Managing Partner of GMS Talent L P, in Houston TX. He is the author of Strategic Hiring: Tomorrow’s Benefits Today, and a contributing author to Pfeiffer Annual Consulting Yearbook.

Study Shows Mobile Phones Do Not Pose Brain Cancer Risk

According to the first study to consider the effects of radiation on different parts of the brain, using a mobile phone does not increase your risk of brain cancer. Scientists at Tokyo Women's Medical University compared phone use in 322 brain cancer patients with 683 healthy people and found that regularly using a mobile phone did not significantly affect the likelihood of getting brain cancer.

The radiation emitted from different types of phones was also studied to assess the effects on different areas of the brain. While scientists around the world have been monitoring the effects of radio-frequency fields on human health for nearly 60 years, public concern over the safety of mobile phones has grown in recent years as more and more adults and children rely on them for everyday communication. Evidence to date has given the technology a clean bill of health.