When employers are asked which resume skills are the most important, the majority answer “critical thinking skills”.

This is according to the Job Outlook 2022 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. 

But what exactly are critical thinking skills? And how can you highlight them on your resume? Let’s find out…

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What are critical thinking skills and why are they important?

Humans employ critical thinking skills without even realizing it. From the time we get up to the time we go to sleep, our minds are always working to analyze and make sense of the world around us. 

Critical thinking skills allow us to see beyond the surface level of many issues and problems, and to think deeply and creatively about potential solutions.

Critical thinking skills are key for many modern job roles. If you’re thinking about data engineer skills, critical thinking is needed to design and manage complex data systems. In terms of data scientist skills, critical thinking plays a big part in interpreting data to gain useful insights. When it comes to project manager skills, the ability to think critically helps to manage tasks and solve project issues effectively. Finally, when considering business analyst skills, critical thinking is essential to understand business needs and suggest improvements.

6 essential critical thinking skills

Here are six critical thinking skills that can strengthen your resume. Try to use them whenever you can.

1. Questioning

To think critically, you need to be able to question the information you’re given. This means looking at all sides of an issue and not taking anything at face value.

Questioning at work might involve asking your boss for more information about a new project that’s been assigned to you. Or for clarification on an email that was sent out to the team. 

Questioning information is a key part of being a successful employee. It shows that you’re engaged and interested in what’s going on around you. 

How to add “questioning” to your resume:

  • Consistently posed relevant questions during meetings and discussions, contributing to a deeper analysis of topics.
  • Questioned and critically evaluated the information presented in team communications, resulting in improved comprehension and minimized misunderstandings.

2. Creativity

Critical thinking isn’t just about logic and reasoning – it also requires creativity. 

Sometimes the most unexpected solution can be the most effective. This kind of problem solving requires creative, outside the box type of thinking.

An example of using creativity at work is to brainstorm with colleagues in an attempt to come up with new ideas or solutions to a problem. Or you can use creativity to look at a problem from a different perspective or angle.

For example, if you’re struggling to come up with new ideas, try talking to people outside your field for inspiration.

How to add “creativity” to your resume:

  • Applied creative problem-solving techniques to develop innovative solutions, contributing to a 30% increase in efficiency and cost savings within the department.
  • Spearheaded a creative brainstorming initiative, fostering a collaborative environment where diverse ideas were encouraged.

3. Analysis

When you’re presented with an argument, it’s important to be able to analyze it rationally to determine its strengths and weaknesses. 

For example, a vendor might try to persuade you to buy a product or service to help your business grow. In order to make a decision, you need to analyze the vendor’s argument.

What are the potential rewards of buying? What are the risks? Does the vendor’s argument make sense? Is there anything they’re leaving out?

By analyzing the vendor’s argument in this way, you can make informed decisions that align with the growth and success of your business.

How to add “analysis” to your resume:

  • Applied critical analysis to competitor data, providing valuable insights that guided product development decisions.
  • Analyzed complex financial reports, enabling accurate forecasting and budgeting.

4. Decision-Making

Critical thinking skills allow you to sift through information and make well-informed decisions. 

For example, if your job is a customer service representative, you need to make decisions when people call to complain about a product. Should you refund the customer’s money, send them a replacement product, or offer some other type of compensation?

After considering all the options, you would then make the decision that you believe is in the best interest of the customer and the company.

How to add “decision-making” to your resume:

  • Demonstrated strong decision-making skills by assessing risks and evaluating alternatives, resulting in a 20% increase in project completion rates.
  • Led cross-functional teams in critical decision-making processes by gathering relevant information, analyzing potential outcomes, and implementing solutions.

5. Communication

Critical thinkers know how to express themselves clearly and persuasively. They can communicate their ideas in a way that is logical and easy for others to understand.

In the work environment, good communication helps prevent misunderstandings and conflict at work. It also gets everyone on the same page, which creates a more efficient workflow. 

Overall, good communication skills result in a more positive, professional, and productive work environment. 

How to add “communication” to your resume:

  • Delivered compelling presentations to diverse stakeholders, conveying complex ideas in a concise and accessible manner.
  • Orchestrated communication strategies across multiple departments, facilitating collaboration and ensuring clear dissemination of information.

6. Leadership

If you want to be a successful leader, developing your critical thinking skills is essential.

Leadership requires the ability to ask questions, make sound decisions, solve problems, and communicate clearly. Good leaders also continually challenge their own assumptions.

Many businesses do not reach their potential because the leaders lack the ability to do these kinds of things effectively. Are you beginning to see why employers place such a high value on critical thinking skills?

How to add “leadership” to your resume:

  • Led a high-performing team of 15 members, employing strategic decision-making and effective delegation to drive project success.
  • Fostered a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, inspiring team members to think critically, take calculated risks, and implement creative solutions.

6 ways to add critical thinking skills to your resume

Employers are always looking for candidates who can think critically and solve problems. That’s why it’s so important to showcase critical thinking skills on your resume.

If you’re not sure how to add critical thinking skills examples to your resume in a way that will have the biggest impact, here are some tips and strategies:

1. Use keywords

When searching for jobs, be sure to include keywords like “critical thinking” or “problem solving.”

Some employers may even specifically state in the job description that they are looking for candidates with strong critical thinking skills. If so, it’s absolutely vital that you include that keyword.

To make sure you’re using the right keywords on your resume, use a tool like Jobscan’s resume scanner. It uses AI technology to analyze your resume and score it based on how well it matches the job description.

2. Highlight examples

On your resume, be sure to highlight any projects or tasks that required you to use strong critical thinking skills. You can mention how you solved a difficult problem at work, or discuss a time when you had to make a quick decision using logic and reasoning.

For example, you could say, “Increased social media engagement by 82% after analyzing what our top competitors were doing.”

Remember, employers are also looking for creative thinking, so share any successful results you got from thinking outside-the-box.

3. Describe your process

It’s always a good idea to show exactly how you solved problems using critical thinking skills. In other words, present any research, analysis, or brainstorming that went into your decision-making process. 

You can also mention any tools or technology that you used. For example, you could say, “I improved department efficiency by 50 percent using Six Sigma management tools.” 

4. Use action words

When writing your resume, use powerful action verbs that demonstrate critical thinking skills, such as: 

  • Analyzed
  • Investigated
  • Evaluated
  • Created
  • Developed
  • Transformed
  • Spear-headed
  • Increased
  • Solved

For a comprehensive list of action verbs to use on your resume, check out 500 Resume Action Words.

5. Focus on transferability

Critical thinking is a soft skill, which means it’s transferable. This means you can apply it to any job, across all industries and positions.

Even if you don’t have expertise in the role you’re applying for, you can still highlight critical thinking skills that are relevant to the position. 

For example, if you’re applying for a job in customer service, mention any experience you have with managing difficult people, even if they weren’t your customers. 

6. Use numbers and data

Whenever possible, use metrics to showcase your critical thinking skills. 

Rather than saying “I increased sales by coming up with an innovative marketing strategy,” say “I increased sales by 30 percent with an innovative marketing strategy.”

Following these six tips for adding critical thinking skills to your resume will make you a stronger job candidate for any position you apply for.  

To make sure your resume is as strong as possible, use a tool like Jobscan’s resume scanner. It analyzes your resume and tells you how to improve it to give you the best possible chance of getting an interview.

How can you develop your critical thinking skills?

Developing strong critical thinking skills will benefit your professional life and help you get jobs. They’ll also make you a more well-rounded and successful person in general. 

You won’t develop these skills overnight – it can take time and practice – but it’s well worth the effort. 

Here are 8 things you can do to increase your critical thinking powers. 

1. Read, read, read

Reading is great “brain-food” and you should try to do as much of it as possible.

The more you read, the better your understanding of the world will be, and the easier it will be to see both sides of an argument. 

Try to read a variety of materials, from news articles to novels to non-fiction books. 

2. Challenge your own beliefs and assumptions

Assuming that you are always correct can lead to close-mindedness. It can also prevent you from learning new information or considering new ideas. 

To become more open-minded, you need to be willing to challenge your own beliefs and assumptions.

Try to seek out other points of view as much as possible and always question the source of your information. Is it objective and reliable? 

Also, when you’re confronted with a new idea, take the time to really think about it before you form an opinion.

3. Weigh the pros and cons

Before making a decision, always consider carefully the potential positives and negatives of each option. This will allow you to see both sides of the issue and make a more informed decision. 

Of course, this is not always easy, and there are times when the best course of action may not be immediately obvious. 

However, taking the time to weigh the potential options is always worth the effort. It increases the chances of making a decision that leads to a positive outcome.

4. Consider different interpretations

How many times has your initial reaction to a situation colored your judgment and prevented you from seeing all the possibilities?

When you’re trying to understand a situation, it’s important to consider all the different ways you could interpret it.

For example, if you receive a low grade on a test, it is easy to feel discouraged and think that you are not smart enough. But if you take a step back and look at the situation objectively, you may realize that the test was unfair or that you simply didn’t have enough time to prepare. 

By considering the different interpretations of a situation, you can make better decisions and avoid potential pitfalls.

5. Practice active listening

In our fast-paced, often hectic lives, it can be easy to let our minds wander when someone else is speaking. That’s why it’s so important to make a conscious effort to actively listen to what others are saying.

The next time you find yourself in a discussion, really try to listen and understand the other person’s perspective. It could help you see the situation in a new light.

6. Be willing to change your mind

If you find that a new argument or piece of evidence has convinced you, don’t be afraid to change your mind. This shows that you are flexible and adaptable. These are highly valued qualities in most workplaces. 

Additionally, being willing to change your mind can help you avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.

7. Ask questions

It’s important to remember that nobody knows everything. So don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Asking questions can deepen your understanding about a topic. It also shows that you’re interested and want to learn more. 

The next time you’re in a meeting or listening to a presentation, don’t be nervous about raising your hand and asking a question. Chances are, you’re not the only one who wants to know the answer!

8. Practice, practice, practice

Like anything else, critical thinking is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. The more you do it, the better you’ll become at it. 

So challenge yourself to think critically about everything from the news to your daily conversations. Over time, you’ll start to develop good critical thinking skills that will last a lifetime. And, of course, these skills also look great on your resume.

To fully optimize your resume for each job you apply to, use a tool like Jobscan’s resume scanner. It uses AI technology to analyze your resume and score it based on how well it matches the job description.

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Robert Henderson, CPRW, Resume Expert

Robert Henderson, CPRW, is a career advice writer and a resume expert at Jobscan.

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