Why Critical Thinking Skills Are Important in the Workplace

Are you looking to land the perfect job? Or an employee aiming to climb the next rung on the career ladder? Developing your critical problem-solving skills will make you a better candidate for that new job or promotion.

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The words “critical thinking” frequently pop up in job descriptions and on adjective lists for resume-writing, so it’s clearly a desirable characteristic. It’s such an important skill that some employers even require candidates to pass a critical thinking test for employment with the company. 

Critical Thinking Definition

Thinking critically is the ability to analyze a concept objectively, considering the facts and differing perspectives to reach a sound, logical conclusion.

The reason critical thinking is a skill—and not just an automatic thought process—is because most people naturally think “uncritically,” making decisions based on personal biases, self-interest, or irrational emotions. Everyone is vulnerable to this type of simplistic thinking. It’s human nature.

However, there are ways to improve your thought process to be more intentional about thinking critically.

How to Think Critically

Developing your critical thinking skills will help you become a valued member of any team—at work, at school, or anywhere solid decision-making skills are needed.

Here are some ways to improve and utilize your critical thinking skills:

  1. Keep the goal in mind
  2. Know your biases and try to look past them
  3. Ask questions and gather information
  4. Evaluate the facts of the situation and all available data
  5. Collaborate and get feedback from others—especially people with different backgrounds than your own
  6. Generate possible solutions, particularly out-of-the-box ideas
  7. Consider the short- and long-term consequences of implementing each solution
  8. Make a decision or come to a conclusion
  9. Present and communicate the decision or conclusion

Highlighting Critical Thinking on Resumes

There are many skills required for effective critical thinking. If you’re currently in the market for a job, then you always want critical thinking to stand out on the resumes that you submit. Important critical thinking skills to highlight include:

  • Observation
  • Interpretation
  • Analysis
  • Evaluation
  • Problem-solving
  • Decision-making
  • Drawing conclusions
  • Reflection
  • Objectivity
  • Self-evaluation
  • Inference
  • Communication

Think about your work accomplishments that speak to each of these skills and be sure to include them in the bullet points under each job you list on your resume to showcase your ability to think critically.

Impress Employers With Your Critical Thinking Skills

Employers value workers who know how to think critically. Critical thinkers bring creative solutions to the table and help businesses to innovate and remain competitive.

Critical thinking examples exist in every part of the workplace, from the corporate executive offices to the sales floor. Whether you’re the boss or an intern, knowing how to think critically gives you the power to make positive contributions to the company.

Here are some critical thinking examples in different job positions.

Manager

As team leaders, managers are role models for their direct reports. How managers analyze problems influences how their team members will handle issues going forward. Managers that use critical thinking processes foster teams that are intentional about assessing problems and devising solutions.

Business Analyst

A business analyst’s job is to evaluate data and make informed decisions regarding a company’s performance. Careful critical thinking can uncover innovative solutions to address issues that come up and boost business growth in the future.

Human Resources Specialist

Workers in the human resources department are responsible for hiring new talent, determining which employees get pay raises, and deciding appropriate consequences for workers who have violated company policy. Each of those situations requires deliberate critical thinking on the part of human resources specialists that make decisions that can impact a colleague’s career.

Accountant

Critical thinking is part of the core competencies of accountants. Though there are guidelines and principles for accountants to follow, like the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), accountants must use their critical thinking skills to interpret reported numbers and financial statements, identify trends, and exercise good judgment to solve problems.

Marketing Associate

Well-developed critical thinking skills are vital to the marketing team’s ability to create and manage successful marketing campaigns. Marketing associates must be able to gather and analyze demographic information about an organization’s target audience to know how to reach customers effectively when promoting the brand.

Lawyer

Lawyers must think critically to make nuanced distinctions, spot ambiguities, and argue persuasively. “Thinking like a lawyer,” to think with care and precision, is the fundamental skill taught in law school.

Sales Agent and Customer Service Representative

Customer service reps and sales agents have the most direct contact with clients. The ability to think critically enables both groups of workers to satisfy customers’ needs. For instance, if a disgruntled customer storms into a store to complain about a faulty product, a critically thinking customer service associate can get to the root of the problem and suggest possible solutions to the client, who can then choose the best option and leave on a positive note. A critical thinker can also quickly assess a situation and determine how to best diffuse a tense environment when an unhappy customer walks into the store.

Consider Resources to Improve Critical Thinking

Chances are, you now realize you think more critically than you thought. However, there’s always room for improvement. If you’re interested in improving your critical thinking skills to help you secure a new job or improve in your current job, consider taking online courses or downloading applications on your smartphone that test and challenge your critical thinking skills. You’ve got this!

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