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Published on: Monday, January 31, 2011

Cultural Intelligence: How a High CQ Can Help You Land Your Dream Job!


An impressive GPA and a high IQ certainly can't hurt in today's job market, but they're no guarantee of getting an interview, much less a job. But a high CQ (cultural intelligence quotient) is an increasingly sought-after capability by many employers. In today's competitive job market, candidates who demonstrate cultural intelligence have an edge for landing a job in many businesses. Even if the job doesn't require any international travel, managers and HR departments are realizing the importance of having culturally savvy employees who can dynamically meet the challenges of serving a diverse customer base at home and abroad as well as becoming effective participants of culturally diverse teams.

Cultural intelligence is defined as the capability to function effectively across national, ethnic and organizational cultures. You've heard about IQ and EQ. CQ stems from this same body of research on the various forms of intelligence needed to be a successful in today's workforce. CQ is a set of capabilities and skills proven to give employees and their organizations a competitive edge in our shrinking world.

Cultural intelligence includes four different capabilities:
  1. Drive
  2. Knowledge
  3. Strategy
  4. Action
Here's an overview of how companies are screening candidates for cultural intelligence in these four areas:

CQ Drive: Your level of interest, confidence and drive to adapt cross-culturally
  • To what degree do you show an interest in different cultures?
  • Have you sought out opportunities to work with colleagues from different backgrounds?
  • Are you confident you can succeed in cross-cultural situations?
CQ Knowledge: Your understanding of cross-cultural issues and differences
  • Do you demonstrate insight into how culture influences your decision-making?
  • Can you describe the basic cultural differences that exist among the cultures where the organization works?
  • Do you speak another language?
CQ Strategy: Your ability to plan and make sense of culturally diverse experiences
  • How do you demonstrate awareness of yourself and others?
  • Do you plan differently for cross-cultural interactions and work?
  • Do you check back to see if your cross-cultural behavior is effective?
CQ Action: Your ability to adapt verbal and nonverbal actions appropriately when interacting cross-culturally
  • Can you alter your communication for various contexts?
  • Do you demonstrate flexible negotiation skills?
  • To what degree do you flex your behavior when working with people and projects in different cultural contexts?
Managers and human resource departments realize the vision and values of their organization are ultimately whatever experience customers have any time they encounter a team member. The support person answering emails and returning phone calls is the organization to the individual on the other end of that email or phone call. The faculty member behind closed doors in the classroom is that university to his students. The nurse treating the immigrant is the hospital to that patient and her family.

High CQ is particularly sought in candidates seeking management and executive-level positions. The globalization of business is lunging forward with racing speed. Research by world-renown scholars across more than 30 countries finds that cultural intelligence is the single greatest difference between leaders who thrive in today's multicultural environment and those who become obsolete.There are a number of personal benefits you get from enhancing your cultural intelligence, some of which include: career advancement, increased creativity, expanded global networks, stronger negotiating power for a higher salary, and a chance to play a part in making the world a better place. And CQ is something anyone can develop and grow. Get a leg up securing your dream job by trying some of the following:
  1. Review the questions companies are using to screen candidates in the four areas of CQ and anticipate your response.
  2. Take a cross-cultural assignment any time you have the chance. Learn all you can.
  3. Learn more about CQ assessments and training available at The Cultural Intelligence Center.
Developing CQ is proven to enhance your competitive edge in the current job market — whether it's retaining your position or securing a new one. Cultural intelligence contributes to your personal development as a leader and best of all, it allows you to treat people with a great degree of respect and dignity, whatever their cultural background.

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David Livermore's avatarDavid Livermore
David Livermore, PhD is the author of business best-seller Leading with Cultural Intelligence: The New Secret to Success, president of the Cultural Intelligence Center in East Lansing, Michigan and a visiting research fellow with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Dave averages 35 national and international speaking engagements annually, addressing approximately 7,500 leaders a year across 75 countries.

Posted by Martin Yate
06/07 @ 12:42 PM
With my present writing schedule it's not often that I read anything except emails, and rarely I read something twice; which is why I'm taking the time to comment. In this piece, David Livermore does something rare indeed, he adds to the conversation and it is thanks to Dave O and Execunet that we see commentary of this intelligence.
Of special interest is that CQ is something that increases with time, and is another sometimes overlooked plus, that the executive boomer can bring to the table.

And if the questions don't come up at the interview, there's nothing to lose and everything to gain by a succinct comment on your abilities in this area.

Martin Yate CPC
34 Years in career management,
NY Times bestseller, 62 foreign language editions
Knock em Dead Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World
Knock em Dead 2011, The Ultimate Job Search Guide
Knock em Dead Resumes
Knock em Dead Cover Letters
Plus 10 others
Posted by Donna Svei
05/21 @ 06:43 PM
Hi David,

I'm so glad to see your post. Cultural intelligence is important in any organization with culturally diverse stakeholders.

Did you know that people can test their CI and engage in simple exercises to increase it? More here:

Thank you,

Posted by Vanda Hale
05/13 @ 05:56 PM
Interesting article, I enjoyed reading it. I was born in London, moved to the States at 8, spent a year in Asuncion, Paraguay as an exchange student and became fluent in Spanish. I had the opportunity to live and work in Puerto Rico for an expat assignment, consequently my diverse background helped me adapt to any cultural differences.

Living one year in Paraguay at a young age, certainly opened my eyes to how the other side of the world lives and how we take so much for granted.

I'm looking forward to reading your book!
Posted by David Livermore
03/31 @ 06:33 PM
Thanks much for sharing this thoughtful perspective! By no means does CQ alone mitigate some of the other realities that exist in today's workplace. I don't doubt that what you're describing is true for many others like you in this circumstance.

In parallel fashion, I talk with U.S. business people who travel internationally and find that they're encountering a growing anti-U.S. bias. So even if they have high CQ, that doesn't ensure they can break through.

However, you have a MUCH better chance of breaking through these barriers--as an HR exec in the U.S., or a U.S. business person competing against a Chinese salesperson ahead of you in an emerging market--when you find ways to demonstrate your CQ. Don't give up. I'm increasingly encouraged by the growing hospitality from many U.S. companies toward leaders coming from minority backgrounds.

But forgive me if I'm answering a million dollar question with a 2 cent response. These are challenging realities.
Posted by
03/31 @ 02:43 AM
Theoretically, a great concept, however, there is one element missing. Which demographic audience is this article addressing? Whites? Everyone else?

One could argue that I exhibit a significant amount of CQ since I work with many leaders of Indian, Black and Asian backgrounds in the Commercial Real Estate Industry; not White, they prefer being offered services by their own people. But, if I apply for a job and a person representing the dominant demographic in Human Resources departments across the US (White & Female), sees my ethnic name, my resume has a high probability of being deleted or trashed before even being read. It almost seems as if the same homogenous mentality used in dating by most White females is being used to make a business decision on behalf of a company.

My parents made sacrifices to legally immigrate to the US. It's not cheap to legally come here. It takes a minimum of $500,000 cash. They assimilated and adapted. I was born in the US and educated here and abroad, but, they gave me an ethnic name. So, what happens to me in this economy? Do HR people recognize the value I bring their organization or is their idea of an ideal candidate (for the highest salary a Cultural Intelligence Officer can get) a White married male who is over 6 feet tall with a safe and mainstream Christian name?

That translates to a theme of being damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Or is the message, you can be a CQ specialist in a US company, but, the only way you'll be taken seriously, let alone hired, is if you change the ethnic name your parents bestowed upon you to something "normal"?

A penny for your thoughts, oh wise ones...

For more info, see:
Posted by Joyce Gonnzales
02/19 @ 01:12 AM
Interesting article
Posted by Janet rothwell
02/08 @ 12:29 AM
Your comments are well received, maybe Americans should receive more training in this area, and internationals dealing with western citizens should try to speak in monotone English to be understood more clearly. Perhaps customer service personnel from other countries should live in the host country for a period of time to understand the culture and language traits more effectively.
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