Career Development

Critical Thinking Skills To Advance Your Career: Definitions and Examples

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Critical thinking is an ability you have to reason logically, rationally and reflectively. Critical thinkers can identify problems by observation and research, question assumptions and analyze to resolve issues. Managers value employees who use critical thinking skills in the workplace to become efficient problem-solvers. In this article, you’ll learn about critical thinking skills and see skill examples to help you get hired.

What are critical thinking skills?

Critical thinking skills are thought processes you can develop that help you analyze problems and resolve situations in an analytical, unbiased way. Critical thinking skills are often used at work during problem solving, conflict resolution, collaboration, interpretation and in leadership tasks.  

Common critical thinking skills at work

Here are common critical thinking skills with definitions used in at work:

Accuracy

To be accurate is to be free of errors or discrepancies. This means you are careful to choose the right word, double-check your numbers and statistics, and be precise about times and places to the best of your ability. Accounting, for example, is a profession in which accuracy is crucial to ensure that the finances of a company are in good order. Accuracy is also important in the scientific research, engineering and pharmacy industries.

Information-seeking 

Information seekers actively search for data, through research and observation, for making decisions rather than relying only on personal preference or a desired outcome. Other professions in which information gathering is crucial include journalism and law enforcement. For example, an office administrator planning a holiday party cannot just make a reservation at their favorite restaurant; instead, they must seek out quotes, find open dates from venues and ensure each employee can attend before choosing a day. 

Logical reasoning

Logical reasoning is using rational connections between things, events and people to make conclusions. A judge is an example of a career in which logical reasoning is important. A judge has to collect a vast amount of information from a wide variety of sources, decide which information is most reliable, and come up with a verdict accordingly. Other professions in which logical reasoning is important include computer scientist and psychologist.

Evaluation

To evaluate is to judge the quality of something. You might do this every day when you decide whether or not something you want to buy is worth the price. An antiques appraiser has to look at an object, study its history and documentation, and decide its value. Financial advisors and building site inspectors are other professions that requires evaluation.

Predicting

This skill requires you to use the information you’ve gathered and the conclusions you have made to make a reasonable theory for what might happen next. Predicting is different from guessing because you can use information like a past experience to help make your prediction more likely. 

For example, an oncologist uses past data, research and their own experience to decide whether chemotherapy or surgery might have the best results for a particular patient. Other examples of professions in which predicting would be a good critical thinking skill include meteorologists and business analysts. 

Examples of listing critical thinking skills on a resume

The best way to demonstrate your critical thinking skills on a resume is by showing how you have practiced them in the past. Here are some examples of how to list critical thinking skills in the work experience section of your resume:

Example of observation, research and problem-solving

‘Researched and implemented a mobile phone app that parents and teachers used to reduce school pickup wait times by an average of 17 minutes.’

Example of communication and creativity

‘Created an ice-breaker evening event for junior analysts that included a scavenger hunt and skits; the event has since become an annual tradition and spread to all four branches.’

Example of research, evaluation and implementation

‘Analyzed customer service feedback surveys to identify three major areas of improvement, and organized trainings and course material accordingly.’

Example of predicting, reasoning and problem-solving

‘Adjusted inventory effectively to prepare for hurricane season, saving the grocery chain $1.2 million in wastage and improving profits by 30 percent.’

Tips to improve your critical thinking skills

Here are popular ways that you can develop your critical thinking skills: 

Ask questions

Ask a lot of questions. Sometimes a situation that seems difficult to solve may not be if you ask questions to find out where the problem is coming from. Questioning is a way to continually gather evidence and find out why other people think or act the way they do. For example, if your team members miss a weekly meeting regularly, you can ask what their challenges are in attending the meeting, and find a way to make sure each person can attend. 

Think about your thinking

 It is important to examine your own thought patterns and assumptions to see if any prejudice or bias affects the way you tackle a problem. For example, if you have always worked in an office, you may feel that a fellow employee who works remotely is less productive than you. If you examine why you are thinking this way, it could be that you have only ever worked from an office, which is why home is synonymous with relaxation. However, if you objectively analyze that employee’s output and compare it to others who work from both home and the office, you will get hard data with which you can prove or disprove your assumption.

Diversify

This applies to thought, perspectives and people. Always approaching problems with one set of tools, or always relying on one person’s advice, can only lead you to the same result each time. For better results, research alternate methods, talk to others in similar positions and even examine the viewpoints of those who oppose you. For example, if you are tasked with making a bicycle delivery in a new part of town, you might talk to others who live in the area to find out about shortcuts and look up different routes on map apps until you find one that best meets your needs.