The degree-premium

A university degree is now the new equivalent of a high-school diploma. For decades, one of the biggest marketing pitch colleges and universities had was the so-called “degree premium”. This degree premium quantified how much more a typical bachelor’s degree holder earned compared with a high school graduate.

However, new research by the National Bureau of Economic Research tells a different story. Wage gaps between workers with a college or graduate degree and those with only a high school degree rose rapidly in the United States during the 1980s. Since then, the rate of growth in these wage gaps has rapidly slowed, they were essentially unchanged between 2010 and 2015.

A shift away from middle-skilled occupations (like manufacturing jobs that required just a high school diploma) was driven largely by technological change and a general weakening in the demand for advanced cognitive skills. This was due to the rise of automation and artificial intelligence. Technology at first replaced lower-level jobs, but in recent years automation has begun to replace jobs held by workers with four-year degrees in all industries from data entry clerks and financial analysts to drivers.

Today’s job market

Where are we now? Workers with a bachelor’s degree are now forced into lower-skill jobs with lower wages. Rather than a ticket to a high-paying, managerial job that a university degree previously guaranteed, it is now the minimum requirement to get your feet in the door to any job. If your degree is only the precondition to be considered for a job, emotional intelligence can help you stand out in the jobs market and give you an edge.

While each job requires a basic level of technical skills and intelligence to get the job done, technical expertise alone is not enough to stand out in the job market or to achieve superior performance. When mastered, emotional intelligence can be a powerful tool in your skillset to stand out and put you in an elite class of your own at work or in the job market.

Photo by Jesus Kiteque on Unsplash

Emotional Intelligence

Renowned psychologist Daniel Goleman defines emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. An emotionally intelligent individual is both highly conscious of his or her emotional states whether positive — joy, enjoyment, love or negative — frustration, sadness or resentment.

An emotionally intelligent individual is also specially tuned in to the emotions others experience since they are attuned to theirs. Understanding and having this type of intelligence can be a game-changer, it’s quite clear that having skills that encourages sensitivity to emotional signals from within and from the social environment could make one a better friend, parent, employee, and leader.

Work environments have become more collaborative, team-oriented and growth-centred than ever before. There are less emphasis and glamour around being a solo reclusive genius. In this new age, strength in communication, integrity, adaptability, ethics, and leadership are the leading metrics of hireability, promotion, and employability.

Studies have shown that employees with higher scores on measures of emotional intelligence also tend to be rated higher on measures of interpersonal functioning, leadership abilities, and stress management. Learn more about emotional intelligence at work here.

Signs of high emotional intelligence in the workplace:

  • Are you making better decisions and solving problems?
  • Do you keep cool under pressure?
  • Do you resolve conflicts you find yourself involved in?
  • Do you show empathy?
  • Do you often listen, reflect, before responding to constructive criticism?

Signs of low emotional intelligence in the workplace:

  • Do you play the role of the victim or shy away from taking personal responsibility for your errors?
  • Do you have a passive or aggressive communication style?
  • Do you struggle or refuse to work as a team?
  • Are you overly critical of others or struggle to stay open to others’ opinions?

How to become more emotionally intelligent

  1. Become more self-aware — Stay in touch with yourself, practice identifying the emotions you feel and labelling them. Try to understand if you are feeling anger, joy, frustration, jealousy, fear, trust etc.
  2. Practice self-regulation — Being aware of your emotions is the first step, but you also need to be able to manage what you are feeling. People who possess good self-regulation can adapt well to changing situations. They don’t bottle things up, but they do wait for appropriate ways to express their emotions rather than just reacting impulsively at the moment.
  3. Improve your social skills — When you can understand your emotions, it is easier to understand and interpret other people’s emotions as well. This will serve well in building your social skills since you will find it easier to respond appropriately to different situations. Employees and leaders with great social skills can build rapport with colleagues and communicate their ideas effectively. People with good social skills are not only great team players, but they are also able to take on leadership roles when needed.
  4. Work on your motivation — People who have strong emotional intelligence tend to be more motivated to achieve goals for their own sake. Rather than seeking external rewards, they want to do things because they find them fulfilling and they are passionate about what they do. Find your passion.

Hi, I’m David and I coach professionals to upgrade their resume, improve their emotional intelligence and earn more money. I am a professional recruiter and work as a consultant for a world-class recruiting firm. You can learn more about me at Also, feel free to check out my Ultimate Career Guide Course on Udemy.