Critical Thinking Skills: Examples for Your Resume

Kellie Hanna, CPRW
By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: June 12, 2024

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Critical thinking is a fundamental skill that helps us analyze, evaluate and interpret information clearly and effectively. It involves actively questioning and challenging concepts, thoughts, ideas and actions to make reasoned decisions. In this guide, we provide examples of key critical thinking skills for your resume and practical strategies for mastering and using them in the workplace.

What are critical thinking skills?

Critical thinking skills include a wide range of cognitive abilities that help us learn and process information, assess situations, and understand complex ideas so we can make sound and informed decisions. Potential employers look for candidates with strong critical thinking skills because they are typically adept at navigating various challenges, solving problems and analyzing data, helping companies grow and thrive in today’s dynamic marketplace. 

Top critical thinking skills for work

Critical thinking skills are critical in the workplace because they foster innovation, collaboration and productivity. 

Some of the top critical thinking skills for work include:

Analytical thinking: Analytical thinkers excel at scrutinizing data, assessing relationships and drawing logical conclusions. Analyzing information and breaking complex problems into manageable pieces are essential for making well-informed decisions on the job.

Creative thinking: Creativity involves formulating original ideas, thinking outside the box, and approaching challenges from unconventional angles. Creative thinkers contribute unique perspectives to drive innovation within their organizations.

Problem-solving: Effective problem solvers identify issues, evaluate possible solutions, and implement strategies to address them. If you are proficient at solving problems, you bring resourcefulness, resilience, and the ability to find solutions confidently to the workplace. 

Decision-making: Strong decision makers consider options, weigh sides, look for alternatives, and choose the best course of action based on available information and desired outcomes. In the workplace, decision-making is crucial for making pragmatic decisions quickly.

Strategic thinking: Strategic thinkers can anticipate trends, assess risks, and develop long-term plans aligned with organizational goals. If you are adept at strategic thinking, you can see the big picture and the broader context for making decisions. 

Logical reasoning: Logical reasoning involves evaluating arguments, recognizing patterns, identifying flaws and drawing conclusions based on evidence. If you excel at logical reasoning, you can help enhance processes and drive growth in the workplace. 

Attention to detail: A sharp eye for detail is essential for ensuring work accuracy, precision, and quality. By paying close attention to details at work, you can spot errors, find inconsistencies, and maintain high standards of excellence.

Open-mindedness: Being open-minded at work enhances adaptability, promotes inclusivity, and encourages innovation. It means being receptive to new ideas, diverse perspectives and constructive feedback. 

Communication skills: Effective communication is essential for sharing information, understanding, expressing ideas and collaborating. Being a good communicator at work can enhance productivity, facilitate teamwork and achieve consensus.

Curiosity: When you are curious, you are driven to learn new things, ask questions and understand different perspectives and viewpoints. In the workplace, curiosity helps you continuously expand and deepen your knowledge and expertise in your field. 

Examples of critical thinking skills in the workplace

Using critical thinking skills in the workplace involves employing logical reasoning, data analysis and rational judgment to make well-informed decisions. 

Here are some examples of how you might apply critical thinking skills in various workplace scenarios:

Risk management

Workplace scenario: A project team identifies potential risks that could impact the successful completion of a project.

Application: Conduct a risk assessment, identify potential threats or uncertainties, develop contingency plans, and implement proactive measures to mitigate risks and minimize negative impacts.

Critical evaluation

Workplace scenario: A human resources manager is reviewing job applications to shortlist candidates for interviews.

Application: Scrutinize resumes, cover letters, and portfolios, assess candidates’ qualifications, experience, and fit for the role, and make objective judgments to select the most suitable candidates.

Adaptability

Workplace scenario: A sales representative must adjust their approach when dealing with a difficult client.

Application: Assess the client’s needs and preferences, remain flexible in communication style and negotiation tactics, and adapt strategies in real-time to build rapport and address concerns effectively.

Logical reasoning

Workplace scenario: A financial analyst reviews investment proposals to recommend the most viable option. 

Application: Analyze financial data, evaluate assumptions and projections, identify logical inconsistencies or risks, and make recommendations based on reasoned analysis.

Strategic thinking

Workplace scenario: A business leader is developing a long-term growth strategy for the company.

Application: Assess market trends, competitive landscape, and organizational capabilities, set clear objectives, formulate strategic initiatives, and allocate resources effectively to achieve long-term goals.

Analytical thinking

Workplace scenario: A marketing manager must analyze market trends to develop a new advertising campaign.

Application: Use data analysis tools to examine sales data, consumer behavior, and competitor strategies to identify opportunities and inform campaign decisions.

Critical thinking skills for leaders

In a leadership position, you need critical thinking skills to make decisions efficiently, plan strategically and solve problems effectively. Critical thinking skills can help you analyze information, evaluate complex situations and make informed choices. 

Improve your critical thinking skills 

Honing your critical thinking skills can enhance your analytical abilities and cognitive agility to navigate challenges confidently. 

Here are our tips for enhancing your critical thinking skills:

  • Embrace a growth mindset and seek opportunities for intellectual engagement.
  • Engage in discussions and debates with peers to learn from different perspectives and challenge your assumptions.
  • Read a wide variety of subjects to broaden and deepen your knowledge and explore different ways of thinking. 
  • Practice problem-solving exercises, puzzles, or brainteasers that require analytical thinking and creative problem-solving.
  • Welcome ambiguity for growth, and approach challenges with confidence and curiosity. 

Critical thinking skills and career growth

Critical thinking skills are essential to your career growth and professional development because they empower you to adapt to changing circumstances, make well-informed decisions and solve problems. 

Here are the top five critical thinking skills to grow your career:

  • Analytical thinking: Breaking down complex problems and assessing situations logically.
  • Problem-solving: Identifying issues, finding solutions and devising effective strategies to achieve desired outcomes. 
  • Decision-making: Weighing options, considering potential risks and benefits, and making well-informed conclusions.
  • Strategic thinking: Anticipating trends, assessing market opportunities and threats, and developing long-term plans.
  • Creativity: Exploring new ideas, generating innovative solutions, and unlocking new opportunities.

Critical thinking skills training tips

Whether you are beginning your career or are a seasoned pro, training can help your master critical thinking.

Here are four training tips for developing critical thinking skills:

  • Look for reputable online platforms that offer courses specifically focused on critical thinking skills. Websites like Coursera, edX, or LinkedIn Learning often have courses taught by experts that cover various aspects of critical thinking.
  • Explore local or virtual workshops, seminars, or conferences on critical thinking. These events often feature interactive sessions, practical exercises and opportunities for networking with professionals who share similar interests.
  • Join online forums, discussion groups, or book clubs dedicated to critical thinking topics. Engaging in discussions with like-minded individuals can provide valuable insights, perspectives, and opportunities for collaborative learning.
  • Look for opportunities to participate in problem-solving exercises or case studies to develop your analytical and problem-solving skills in real-world contexts.

Resources for developing critical thinking skills:

There are numerous resources available to help you cultivate and enhance your critical thinking skills, including:

Books:

  • “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
  • “Critical Thinking: A Beginner’s Guide” by Sharon M. Kaye
  • “The Art of Thinking Clearly” by Rolf Dobelli
  • “Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument” by Stella Cottrell
  • “How to Think Like Sherlock: Improve Your Powers of Observation, Memory and Deduction” by Daniel Smith

Online courses:

  • Coursera: “Critical Thinking & Problem Solving” by University of Leeds
  • edX: “Critical Thinking & Problem Solving” by Microsoft
  • LinkedIn Learning: “Critical Thinking for Better Judgment and Decision-Making” by Becki Saltzman
  • Udemy: “Critical Thinking Skills: Practical Strategies for Better Decision Making, Problem-Solving, and Innovation” by Steven Schuster

Websites and blogs:

  • The Critical Thinking Community: Offers resources, articles, and interactive tools for developing critical thinking skills.
  • The Foundation for Critical Thinking: Provides educational materials, webinars, and workshops focused on critical thinking development.
  • The Skeptics Society: Publishes articles, podcasts, and videos that promote critical thinking, skepticism, and scientific inquiry.
  • The Critical Thinking Consortium: Offers teaching resources and professional development opportunities for educators interested in fostering critical thinking skills in students.

Podcasts:

  • “The Critical Thinking Initiative Podcast” hosted by Derek Bownds: Explores topics related to critical thinking, cognitive biases, and decision-making.
  • “You Are Not So Smart” hosted by David McRaney: Investigates the ways in which people delude themselves and explores methods for critical thinking and self-awareness.
  • “The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe,” hosted by Steven Novella et al., examines pseudoscience, logical fallacies, and critical thinking skills in a fun and engaging format.

Workshops and seminars:

  • Universities and colleges: Many educational institutions offer workshops or seminars on critical thinking skills.
  • Professional development programs: Check with your employer or professional organizations for opportunities to attend workshops or training sessions focused on critical thinking in the workplace.
  • Community centers and libraries: Look for community-based organizations or libraries that host events or classes on critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making.

Key takeaways

Let’s review what you’ve learned about critical thinking skills from this guide:

  • Critical thinking skills include a wide range of abilities, including analytical skills, problem-solving and decision making.  
  • Embracing a growth mindset and seeking new knowledge are great tactics for improving your critical thinking skills. 
  • Using critical thinking skills in the workplace involves employing logical reasoning, data analysis and rational judgment.

 

 

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Sources

Business.com. Article. Fraraccio, Miranda. Building Critical Thinking Skills to Solve Problems at Work

Coursera. Article. No Author. What Are Critical Thinking Skills and Why ae They Important?

PMC Training. Article. What is Critical Thinking and Why is it Valuable in the Workplace?

 

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