I am excited to introduce a new interview series on the Shirkani's Musings blog. My first guest is Bob Dolan, Career Advisor for MIT Postdoctoral Scholars. We share a similar belief that Emotional Intelligence is a vital ingredient for job success. Here are his thoughts on the subject:
JS: What do you see as the ideal balance to maintain between technical knowledge and emotional intelligence for Postdocs?
BD: I believe the optimal balance is 50-50 (for everyone). Although all of the Postdocs I work with have incredible technical expertise in their field, in order for them to be effective they must possess the workplace required behavioral attributes to be successful. Ironically, they do have many of them but are not aware that they have these skills. They are so focused on their profession that they have not noticed they have actually worked in collaborative environments. Many of which were multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary. Several have mentored grad students and managed several initiatives in their labs which are an indication they also possess some form of leadership skill. I have also observed that many possess strong communication skills and have delivered several presentations and have been published many times. So I view it as a lack of self-awareness that prevents them from recognizing they do have many of the EI attributes. Only through probing questions do they reveal them and then they move forward in a more confident manner.
JS: From your experience, what do employees that make the most successful career transitions do differently than others?
BD: From my experience both in industry and in career services my observation shows that successful transitions occur for several reasons. First, if the transition is a different profession, the technical knowledge and experience must be obtained before they can be considered for the new role. By doing a gap analysis and understanding what they need to do (self-awareness) is critical to any transition. Next is motivation. They need a strong drive to achieve and a propensity to pursue their goals with high energy and enthusiasm. Finally, they need social skills (EQ) to effectively assimilate into their new environment. They should display the ability to build relationships and find common ground among their new co-workers.
JS: I know you often advise former military personnel who are transitioning to civilian roles. In your opinion, what EQ skills do they often bring with them that employers can benefit from?
BD: Working with the military is very interesting and humbling for me. I mostly work with those who have recently been discharged, or who will be discharged in the near future. I run programs at Hanscom AFB in Lexington MA and have worked with many who spent time in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. They all possess incredible courage and strength of character, but when I ask them how they feel about transitioning into the civilian workplace they are timid and nervous. Many believe that they don’t have the skills that employers want. However, after discussing their work and asking questions they reveal that they have essentially all of the skills that employers want. The top five EQ skills that they all consistently display are leadership, team work, communication, initiative, and adaptability.
About Bob Dolan:
Bob joined the MIT Global Education and Career Development Center and has held full-time and seasonal roles since 2005. He is a Certified Job Search and Career Transition Consultant with experience in the field of Career Management since 2001. In addition to assisting military personnel transition into the civilian workplace, Bob is also a guest speaker at several universities and career venues in the Boston area. Before joining MIT, Bob had a private Career Consulting practice and worked with clients across multiple industries.
Prior to choosing a profession in Career Services, Bob worked in several industries as a member of Corporate Finance Management teams. Bob holds a BS in Business, an MBA, and worked in the Publishing industry, Chemical industry (polymer sciences), and 12 years in the High Technology telecomm sector. Bob served six years in the US Army with the 1st Battalion 182nd Infantry Regiment. As a hiring manager for over twenty years, Bob brings a unique blend of "real world" and career services expertise to his clients. Since 2003 Bob has been on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the Career Counselors' Consortium of New England.