It’s no secret that employers want people who are adaptable, can solve problems, and contribute to the organization’s success. The difference between an employee who can do these things and one who can’t come down to one simple thing: they have great critical thinking skills.
So of course you’d want to tout these on your resume and all over your job application materials too. But there’s one problem. Critical skills aren’t always easy to put on paper. But there are a few ‘workarounds’ this post will show you!
What Are Critical Thinking Skills?
Critical thinking skills stand for your ability to rationally process information, find connections between ideas, reflect, and draw conclusions.
As a person with well-developed critical thinking skills, you are good at:
- Correctly identifying and understanding problems.
- Analyzing information for relevance and accuracy.
- Using available information to formulate effective, empathetic, and rational solutions to problems.
- Identifying logical relationships and patterns between ideas.
- Recognizing complexity in problems and applying appropriately complex thought processes.
- Incorporating new information into their decision-making processes.
You use critical thinking skills in the workplace to solve problems, collaborate with others, resolve conflicts, and complete many leadership tasks.
Why Are Critical Thinking Skills In Demand By Employers
The “Future of Jobs 2020” report states that employers listed critical thinking among the top skills and skill groups that will rise in prominence by 2025.
In particular, the top skills employers will be searching for among new hires include:
- Analytical skills
- Active learning
Why do these qualities trump hard skills in demand? Simple! Because they enable effective on-the-job learning.
Employers realize that industries now operate at a breakneck speed with the ‘best practices’ constantly in flux. Respectively, it’s not always easy to find a candidate with the ‘freshest’ set of skills. But it’s easy to nurture such as long as they are good critical-thinkers! For similar reasons, 93% of employers actually state that they value strong critical thinking skills over the candidate’s undergraduate degree.
Additionally, critical thinking has emerged as an essential skill because of the sheer volume of data we encounter. Much of this information is accessed online and often comes from questionable sources. It takes a combination of digital literacy and critical thinking skills for workers to discern which information is reliable, and what can be dismissed as pseudo-science, fake news, marketing propaganda, outdated, or speculative. Employers need workers who can fact-check, evaluate, and process this information effectively.
List of Critical Thinking Skills For Your Resume
Let’s be real: you won’t convince hiring managers by simply stating, ‘I have critical thinking skills’ in your cover letter. It’s a fact you need to demonstrate via your duties and accomplishments. The best way to do so is to break down the “critical thinking skills” group into more concrete sub-skills such as:
Analysis stands for your ability to effectively deal with the incoming information and translate it into insights. To analyze things properly, you must know how to source information, verify that it is valid, determine which data is relevant, and take an objective approach to draw conclusions based on that information.
Collaborating with others, discussing problems, and giving and receiving feedback is a critical skill for every hire. Show the employer that you can hold productive exchanges with people who don’t always agree with you, be persuasive, and critically process all the information others are sharing with you.
This skill involves having a heightened awareness of your surroundings, understanding what you observe, and knowing the appropriate action to take. For example, they may notice a downward trend in productivity, and take action to address potential staffing issues.
Inference indicates your ability to draw conclusions based on a limited set of data. For example, the manager of a community pool may infer that an unseasonably hot day will mean that more people will order cold drinks from the concession stand.
Problem-solving skills denote your ability to strategize the best solution to a given problem and evaluate the success of that solution after having implemented it. It requires that you can look at a problem objectively, and think through potential solutions in a methodical manner.
How to Improve Critical Thinking Skills
Critical thinking skills are key for effective collaboration, continuous learning, and personal efficiency. If you feel that your skillset could do with an ‘upgrade’, try the following techniques.
- Practice information analysis: When trying to solve a problem, focus on getting all the necessary data first. Then, evaluate which ‘intel’ is accurate, important, fit-for-purpose. Toss other findings and work with what’s left.
- Learn to give recommendations: Recommendations are synthesized findings — a feasible, data- or experience-based solution. Learn to formulate all your recommendations based on the above.
- Challenge your biases: Everyone is prone to preconceived notions and assumptions. Unfortunately, these get in the way of critical thinking. Learn to recognize your own biases, and make a dedicated effort to put those aside when you innovate and solve problems.
Critical thinking is one of the most important skills to have to ensure your long-term “hire-ability”. Today, these skills are crucial for working with data, solving emerging market problems, and discerning truth from a growing volume of unproven information, circulating online. Tomorrow, critical thinking will become even more important as the future workforce will be primarily focused on “knowledge work”.