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Critical Thinking: Is this sought-after skill on your resume?

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Critical thinking expertise is no longer just “nice to have” on a resume; it’s essential

Critical thinking skills are high-demand capabilities that provide a competitive edge for job applicants and for the organizations where they will work.

“Whether you’re the boss or an intern, knowing how to think critically gives you the power to make positive contributions to the company,” according to the online job marketplace ZipRecruiter.  In fact, the job site,, discusses critical thinking as a “top resume skill.” Indeed partners with to help people express critical thinking capabilities in various professions within descriptions of past job experiences. Career advisors underscore the importance of building critical thinking skills for career enhancement.

According to the most recent SHRM research on exploring workplace skills gaps, critical thinking is cited as one of the most sought-after skills, and employee training programs are recognized as the leading way of addressing this gap. Employers are looking for people who can think analytically and come to conclusions based on relevant facts.

Change is driving this growing recognition of the value of critical thinking skills. Today’s flatter organizations have pushed problem solving and decision making to the employees that are most affected by and aware of the organization’s problems and decisions. In the increasingly pervasive team approach to the way work is done in organizations, objective, data-based critical thinking is recognized as foundational for encouraging communication, participation and for managing teams effectively. Given today’s increasingly global and digitized business environment, critical thinking skills are enduring human capabilities, highly valued for enabling people to anticipate, act on and respond to change.

Employers are looking for people who can think analytically and come to conclusions based on relevant facts.

Charles Kepner and Ben Tregoe, the founders of our company, codified the basic, critical thinking skills as rational processes for Problem Analysis, Decision Analysis, Potential Problem (Opportunity) Analysis, and Situation Appraisal. Their intent was to improve business management by improving critical thinking skills. These processes were quickly adapted by managers who put astronauts on the moon, engineers responsible for the life and safety of miners, major manufacturers choosing sites for plants and research scientists fighting cancer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today these advanced critical thinking capabilities are sought after for employees at every level of organizations, from the executive suite to the shop floor.

Anecdotally, people who have been through critical thinking skills training frequently credit these skills as fundamental to success and advancement in their careers. Within organizations, it’s not unusual when problem solving training is introduced in one part of the business, that the same training is requested by executive teams and by employees in other divisions and global locations. This is most apparent when the benefits of complex problem-solving skills are measurable in terms of cost and time savings.

Analytic thinking continues to make a lasting contribution to the discipline of management for one good reason: The approach gets results.

For example, the participatory approach to complex issues using a diverse group of advanced problem solvers and decision makers has led organizations away from top-down management to continuous improvement teams that use Six Sigma, Lean and other tools to improve quality and customer satisfaction. Within today’s digitized economy, machines have replaced many jobs, yet those that remain rely on humans with the ability to respond quickly and effectively to complex problems and to use data analytically. As technology has changed, offering new solutions, it has also created new problems, never seen before, that can’t rely on knowledge and experience alone. This is obvious within help desk/support organizations where rapid resolution of new problems becomes critical to ongoing organizational success or in manufacturing where machine operators need to sift through reams of data to solve problems.

It has become clear that the need for advanced critical thinking skills isn’t limited to any job description or level within an organization. Year after year, these skills are short-listed among the most in demand in the economy despite, or perhaps because of, changing needs in today’s high-tech environment. A resume that has evidence of value delivered with advanced critical thinking capabilities provides real competitive advantage to job seekers and necessary insights for potential employers.

A newer version of this article can be found here:
Unlocking career success: the power of critical thinking on your resume

About Kepner-Tregoe

Software and templates don’t solve problems – people do.

What kind of people? People who are curious, ask great questions, make decisions based on facts, and are empowered to lead. They remain focused under pressure and act confidently to do what needs to be done.

You’ll find these problem solving leaders both at our clients and here at Kepner-Tregoe. For over 60 years, Kepner-Tregoe has empowered thousands of companies to solve millions of problems. If we can save millions for a manufacturer, restore IT service for a stock exchange, and help Apollo 13 get back from space, we can help your business achieve success.

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