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7 Problem Solving Skills That Aren’t Just Buzzwords (+ Resume Example)

  • Julia Mlcuchova , 
  • Updated April 8, 2024 9 min read

Problem-solving skills are something everybody should include on their resume, yet only a few seem to understand what these skills actually are. If you've always felt that the term "problem-solving skills" is rather vague and wanted to know more, you've come to the right place.

In this article, we're going to explain what problem-solving skills really mean. We'll talk about what makes up good problem-solving skills and give you tips on how to get better at them. You'll also find out how to make your problem-solving abilities look more impressive to those who might want to hire you.

Sounds good, right? Curious to learn more? 

In this article we’ll show you:

  • What are problem solving skills;
  • Why are they important; 
  • Specific problem solving skills examples;
  • How to develop your problem solving skills;
  • And, how to showcase them on your resume.

Table of Contents

Click on a section to skip

What are problem solving skills?

Why are problem solving skills important, the best 7 problem solving skills examples, how to develop problem solving skills, problem solving skills resume example, key takeaways: problem solving skills.

First of all, they're more than just a buzzword!

Problem-solving skills are a set of specific abilities that allow you to deal with unexpected situations in the workplace, whether it be job related or team related. 

It's a complex process that involves several “sub skills” or “sub steps,” namely:

  • Recognizing and identifying the issue at hand.
  • Breaking the problem down into smaller parts and analyzing how they relate to one another. 
  • Creating potential solutions to the problem, evaluating them and picking the best one.  
  • Applying the chosen solution and assessing its outcome. 
  • Learning from the whole process to deal with future problems more effectively. 

As you can see, it's not just about solving problems that are right in front of us, but also about predicting potential issues and being prepared to deal with them before they arise.  

Despite what you may believe, problem-solving skills aren't just for managers . 

Think about it this way: Why do employers hire employees in the first place? To solve problems for them!

And, as we all know, problems don't discriminate. In other words, it doesn't matter whether you're just an intern, an entry-level professional, or a seasoned veteran, you'll constantly face some kind of challenges. And the only difference is in how complex they will get.

This is also reflected in the way employers assess suitability of potential job candidates. 

In fact, research shows that the ability to deal with unexpected complications is prioritized by an overwhelming 60% of employers across all industries, making it one of the most compelling skills on your resume.

So, regardless of your job description or your career level, you're always expected to find solutions for problems, either independently or as a part of a team. 

And that's precisely what makes problem-solving skills so invaluable and universal ! 

Wondering how good is your resume?

Find out with our AI Resume Checker! Just upload your resume and see what can be improved.

As we've said before, problem-solving isn't really just one single skill. 

Instead, your ability to handle workplace issues with composure depends on several different “sub-skills”. 

So, which specific skills make an employee desirable even for the most demanding of recruiters? 

In no particular order, you should focus on these 7 skills : 

  • Analytical skills
  • Research skills
  • Critical thinking 
  • Decision-making
  • Collaboration
  • Having a growth mindset

Let's have a look at each of them in greater detail!

#1 Analytical skills

Firstly, to truly understand complex problems, you need to break them down into more manageable parts . Then, you observe them closely and ask yourself: “ Which parts work and which don't,” How do these parts contribute to the problem as a whole,” and "What exactly needs to be fixed?” In other words, you gather data , you study it, and compare it - all to pinpoint the cause of the issue as closely as possible.

#2 Research skills

Another priceless tool is your research skills (sometimes relying on just one source of information isn't enough). Besides, to make a truly informed decision , you'll have to dig a little deeper. Being a good researcher means looking for potential solutions to a problem in a wider context. For example: going through team reports, customer feedback, quarterly sales or current market trends.  

#3 Critical thinking

Every employer wants to hire people who can think critically. Yet, the ability to evaluate situations objectively and from different perspectives , is actually pretty hard to come by. But as long as you stay open-minded, inquisitive, and with a healthy dose of skepticism, you'll be able to assess situations based on facts and evidence more successfully. Plus, critical thinking comes in especially handy when you need to examine your own actions and processes. 

 #4 Creativity

Instead of following the old established processes that don't work anymore, you should feel comfortable thinking outside the box. The thing is, problems have a nasty habit of popping up unexpectedly and rapidly. And sometimes, you have to get creative in order to solve them fast. Especially those that have no precedence. But this requires a blend of intuition, industry knowledge, and quick thinking - a truly rare combination. 

#5 Decision-making

The analysis, research, and brainstorming are done. Now, you need to look at the possible solutions, and make the final decision (informed, of course). And not only that, you also have to stand by it ! Because once the train gets moving, there's no room for second guessing. Also, keep in mind that you need to be prepared to take responsibility for all decisions you make. That's no small feat! 

#6 Collaboration

Not every problem you encounter can be solved by yourself alone. And this is especially true when it comes to complex projects. So, being able to actively listen to your colleagues, take their ideas into account, and being respectful of their opinions enables you to solve problems together. Because every individual can offer a unique perspective and skill set. Yes, democracy is hard, but at the end of the day, it's teamwork that makes the corporate world go round. 

#7 Having a growth mindset

Let's be honest, no one wants their work to be riddled with problems. But facing constant challenges and changes is inevitable. And that can be scary! However, when you're able to see these situations as opportunities to grow instead of issues that hold you back, your problem solving skills reach new heights. And the employers know that too!

Now that we've shown you the value problem-solving skills can add to your resume, let's ask the all-important question: “How can I learn them?”

Well…you can't. At least not in the traditional sense of the word. 

Let us explain: Since problem-solving skills fall under the umbrella of soft skills , they can't be taught through formal education, unlike computer skills for example. There's no university course that you can take and graduate as a professional problem solver. 

But, just like other interpersonal skills, they can be nurtured and refined over time through practice and experience. 

Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all approach, but the following tips can offer you inspiration on how to improve your problem solving skills:

  • Cultivate a growth mindset. Remember what we've said before? Your attitude towards obstacles is the first step to unlocking your problem-solving potential. 
  • Gain further knowledge in your specialized field. Secondly, it's a good idea to delve a little deeper into your chosen profession. Because the more you read on a subject, the easier it becomes to spot certain patterns and relations.  
  • Start with small steps. Don't attack the big questions straight away — you'll only set yourself up for failure. Instead, start with more straightforward tasks and work your way up to more complex problems. 
  • Break problems down into more digestible pieces. Complex issues are made up of smaller problems. And those can be further divided into even smaller problems, and so on. Until you're left with only the basics. 
  • Don't settle for a single solution. Instead, keep on exploring other possible answers.
  • Accept failure as a part of the learning process. Finally, don't let your failures discourage you. After all, you're bound to misstep a couple of times before you find your footing. Just keep on practicing. 

How to improve problem solving skills with online courses

While it’s true that formal education won’t turn you into a master problem solver, you can still hone your skills with courses and certifications offered by online learning platforms :

  • Analytical skills. You can sharpen your analytical skills with Data Analytics Basics for Everyone from IBM provided by edX (Free); or Decision Making and Analytical Thinking: Fortune 500 provided by Udemy ($21,74).
  • Creativity. And, to unlock your inner creative mind, you can try Creative Thinking: Techniques and Tools for Success from the Imperial College London provided by Coursera (Free).
  • Critical thinking. Try Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking Specialization from Duke University provided by Coursera (Free); or Logical and Critical Thinking offered by The University of Auckland via FutureLearn.  
  • Decision-making. Or, you can learn how to become more confident when it's time to make a decision with Decision-Making Strategies and Executive Decision-Making both offered by LinkedIn Learning (1 month free trial).
  • Communication skills . Lastly, to improve your collaborative skills, check out Communicating for Influence and Impact online at University of Cambridge. 

The fact that everybody and their grandmothers put “ problem-solving skills ” on their CVs has turned the phrase into a cliche. 

But there's a way to incorporate these skills into your resume without sounding pretentious and empty. Below, we've prepared a mock-up resume that manages to do just that.

FYI, if you like this design, you can use the template to create your very own resume. Just click the red button and fill in your information (or let the AI do it for you).

Problem solving skills on resume example

This resume was written by our experienced resume writers specifically for this profession.

Why this example works?

  • Firstly, the job description itself is neatly organized into bullet points .  
  • Instead of simply listing soft skills in a skills section , you can incorporate them into the description of your work experience entry.  
  • Also, the language here isn't vague . This resume puts each problem-solving skill into a real-life context by detailing specific situations and obstacles. 
  • And, to highlight the impact of each skill on your previous job position, we recommend quantifying your results whenever possible. 
  • Finally, starting each bullet point with an action verb (in bold) makes you look more dynamic and proactive.

To sum it all up, problem-solving skills continue gaining popularity among employers and employees alike. And for a good reason!

Because of them, you can overcome any obstacles that stand in the way of your professional life more efficiently and systematically. 

In essence, problem-solving skills refer to the ability to recognize a challenge, identify its root cause, think of possible solutions , and then implement the most effective one. 

Believing that these skills are all the same would be a serious misconception. In reality, this term encompasses a variety of different abilities , including:

In short, understanding, developing, and showcasing these skills, can greatly boost your chances at getting noticed by the hiring managers. So, don't hesitate and start working on your problem-solving skills right now!

Julia has recently joined Kickresume as a career writer. From helping people with their English to get admitted to the uni of their dreams to advising them on how to succeed in the job market. It would seem that her career is on a steadfast trajectory. Julia holds a degree in Anglophone studies from Metropolitan University in Prague, where she also resides. Apart from creative writing and languages, she takes a keen interest in literature and theatre.

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26 Good Examples of Problem Solving (Interview Answers)

By Biron Clark

Published: November 15, 2023

Employers like to hire people who can solve problems and work well under pressure. A job rarely goes 100% according to plan, so hiring managers will be more likely to hire you if you seem like you can handle unexpected challenges while staying calm and logical in your approach.

But how do they measure this?

They’re going to ask you interview questions about these problem solving skills, and they might also look for examples of problem solving on your resume and cover letter. So coming up, I’m going to share a list of examples of problem solving, whether you’re an experienced job seeker or recent graduate.

Then I’ll share sample interview answers to, “Give an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem?”

Problem-Solving Defined

It is the ability to identify the problem, prioritize based on gravity and urgency, analyze the root cause, gather relevant information, develop and evaluate viable solutions, decide on the most effective and logical solution, and plan and execute implementation. 

Problem-solving also involves critical thinking, communication, listening, creativity, research, data gathering, risk assessment, continuous learning, decision-making, and other soft and technical skills.

Solving problems not only prevent losses or damages but also boosts self-confidence and reputation when you successfully execute it. The spotlight shines on you when people see you handle issues with ease and savvy despite the challenges. Your ability and potential to be a future leader that can take on more significant roles and tackle bigger setbacks shine through. Problem-solving is a skill you can master by learning from others and acquiring wisdom from their and your own experiences. 

It takes a village to come up with solutions, but a good problem solver can steer the team towards the best choice and implement it to achieve the desired result.

Watch: 26 Good Examples of Problem Solving

Examples of problem solving scenarios in the workplace.

  • Correcting a mistake at work, whether it was made by you or someone else
  • Overcoming a delay at work through problem solving and communication
  • Resolving an issue with a difficult or upset customer
  • Overcoming issues related to a limited budget, and still delivering good work through the use of creative problem solving
  • Overcoming a scheduling/staffing shortage in the department to still deliver excellent work
  • Troubleshooting and resolving technical issues
  • Handling and resolving a conflict with a coworker
  • Solving any problems related to money, customer billing, accounting and bookkeeping, etc.
  • Taking initiative when another team member overlooked or missed something important
  • Taking initiative to meet with your superior to discuss a problem before it became potentially worse
  • Solving a safety issue at work or reporting the issue to those who could solve it
  • Using problem solving abilities to reduce/eliminate a company expense
  • Finding a way to make the company more profitable through new service or product offerings, new pricing ideas, promotion and sale ideas, etc.
  • Changing how a process, team, or task is organized to make it more efficient
  • Using creative thinking to come up with a solution that the company hasn’t used before
  • Performing research to collect data and information to find a new solution to a problem
  • Boosting a company or team’s performance by improving some aspect of communication among employees
  • Finding a new piece of data that can guide a company’s decisions or strategy better in a certain area

Problem Solving Examples for Recent Grads/Entry Level Job Seekers

  • Coordinating work between team members in a class project
  • Reassigning a missing team member’s work to other group members in a class project
  • Adjusting your workflow on a project to accommodate a tight deadline
  • Speaking to your professor to get help when you were struggling or unsure about a project
  • Asking classmates, peers, or professors for help in an area of struggle
  • Talking to your academic advisor to brainstorm solutions to a problem you were facing
  • Researching solutions to an academic problem online, via Google or other methods
  • Using problem solving and creative thinking to obtain an internship or other work opportunity during school after struggling at first

You can share all of the examples above when you’re asked questions about problem solving in your interview. As you can see, even if you have no professional work experience, it’s possible to think back to problems and unexpected challenges that you faced in your studies and discuss how you solved them.

Interview Answers to “Give an Example of an Occasion When You Used Logic to Solve a Problem”

Now, let’s look at some sample interview answers to, “Give me an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem,” since you’re likely to hear this interview question in all sorts of industries.

Example Answer 1:

At my current job, I recently solved a problem where a client was upset about our software pricing. They had misunderstood the sales representative who explained pricing originally, and when their package renewed for its second month, they called to complain about the invoice. I apologized for the confusion and then spoke to our billing team to see what type of solution we could come up with. We decided that the best course of action was to offer a long-term pricing package that would provide a discount. This not only solved the problem but got the customer to agree to a longer-term contract, which means we’ll keep their business for at least one year now, and they’re happy with the pricing. I feel I got the best possible outcome and the way I chose to solve the problem was effective.

Example Answer 2:

In my last job, I had to do quite a bit of problem solving related to our shift scheduling. We had four people quit within a week and the department was severely understaffed. I coordinated a ramp-up of our hiring efforts, I got approval from the department head to offer bonuses for overtime work, and then I found eight employees who were willing to do overtime this month. I think the key problem solving skills here were taking initiative, communicating clearly, and reacting quickly to solve this problem before it became an even bigger issue.

Example Answer 3:

In my current marketing role, my manager asked me to come up with a solution to our declining social media engagement. I assessed our current strategy and recent results, analyzed what some of our top competitors were doing, and then came up with an exact blueprint we could follow this year to emulate our best competitors but also stand out and develop a unique voice as a brand. I feel this is a good example of using logic to solve a problem because it was based on analysis and observation of competitors, rather than guessing or quickly reacting to the situation without reliable data. I always use logic and data to solve problems when possible. The project turned out to be a success and we increased our social media engagement by an average of 82% by the end of the year.

Answering Questions About Problem Solving with the STAR Method

When you answer interview questions about problem solving scenarios, or if you decide to demonstrate your problem solving skills in a cover letter (which is a good idea any time the job description mention problem solving as a necessary skill), I recommend using the STAR method to tell your story.

STAR stands for:

It’s a simple way of walking the listener or reader through the story in a way that will make sense to them. So before jumping in and talking about the problem that needed solving, make sure to describe the general situation. What job/company were you working at? When was this? Then, you can describe the task at hand and the problem that needed solving. After this, describe the course of action you chose and why. Ideally, show that you evaluated all the information you could given the time you had, and made a decision based on logic and fact.

Finally, describe a positive result you got.

Whether you’re answering interview questions about problem solving or writing a cover letter, you should only choose examples where you got a positive result and successfully solved the issue.

Example answer:

Situation : We had an irate client who was a social media influencer and had impossible delivery time demands we could not meet. She spoke negatively about us in her vlog and asked her followers to boycott our products. (Task : To develop an official statement to explain our company’s side, clarify the issue, and prevent it from getting out of hand). Action : I drafted a statement that balanced empathy, understanding, and utmost customer service with facts, logic, and fairness. It was direct, simple, succinct, and phrased to highlight our brand values while addressing the issue in a logical yet sensitive way.   We also tapped our influencer partners to subtly and indirectly share their positive experiences with our brand so we could counter the negative content being shared online.  Result : We got the results we worked for through proper communication and a positive and strategic campaign. The irate client agreed to have a dialogue with us. She apologized to us, and we reaffirmed our commitment to delivering quality service to all. We assured her that she can reach out to us anytime regarding her purchases and that we’d gladly accommodate her requests whenever possible. She also retracted her negative statements in her vlog and urged her followers to keep supporting our brand.

What Are Good Outcomes of Problem Solving?

Whenever you answer interview questions about problem solving or share examples of problem solving in a cover letter, you want to be sure you’re sharing a positive outcome.

Below are good outcomes of problem solving:

  • Saving the company time or money
  • Making the company money
  • Pleasing/keeping a customer
  • Obtaining new customers
  • Solving a safety issue
  • Solving a staffing/scheduling issue
  • Solving a logistical issue
  • Solving a company hiring issue
  • Solving a technical/software issue
  • Making a process more efficient and faster for the company
  • Creating a new business process to make the company more profitable
  • Improving the company’s brand/image/reputation
  • Getting the company positive reviews from customers/clients

Every employer wants to make more money, save money, and save time. If you can assess your problem solving experience and think about how you’ve helped past employers in those three areas, then that’s a great start. That’s where I recommend you begin looking for stories of times you had to solve problems.

Tips to Improve Your Problem Solving Skills

Throughout your career, you’re going to get hired for better jobs and earn more money if you can show employers that you’re a problem solver. So to improve your problem solving skills, I recommend always analyzing a problem and situation before acting. When discussing problem solving with employers, you never want to sound like you rush or make impulsive decisions. They want to see fact-based or data-based decisions when you solve problems.

Next, to get better at solving problems, analyze the outcomes of past solutions you came up with. You can recognize what works and what doesn’t. Think about how you can get better at researching and analyzing a situation, but also how you can get better at communicating, deciding the right people in the organization to talk to and “pull in” to help you if needed, etc.

Finally, practice staying calm even in stressful situations. Take a few minutes to walk outside if needed. Step away from your phone and computer to clear your head. A work problem is rarely so urgent that you cannot take five minutes to think (with the possible exception of safety problems), and you’ll get better outcomes if you solve problems by acting logically instead of rushing to react in a panic.

You can use all of the ideas above to describe your problem solving skills when asked interview questions about the topic. If you say that you do the things above, employers will be impressed when they assess your problem solving ability.

If you practice the tips above, you’ll be ready to share detailed, impressive stories and problem solving examples that will make hiring managers want to offer you the job. Every employer appreciates a problem solver, whether solving problems is a requirement listed on the job description or not. And you never know which hiring manager or interviewer will ask you about a time you solved a problem, so you should always be ready to discuss this when applying for a job.

Related interview questions & answers:

  • How do you handle stress?
  • How do you handle conflict?
  • Tell me about a time when you failed

Biron Clark

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What Are Problem-Solving Skills? (Definition, Examples, And How To List On A Resume)

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Find a Job You Really Want In

Summary. Problem-solving skills include analysis, creativity, prioritization, organization, and troubleshooting. To solve a problem, you need to use a variety of skills based on the needs of the situation.

Most jobs essentially boil down to identifying and solving problems consistently and effectively. That’s why employers value problem-solving skills in job candidates for just about every role.

We’ll cover problem-solving methods, ways to improve your problem-solving skills, and examples of showcasing your problem-solving skills during your job search .

Key Takeaways:

If you can show off your problem-solving skills on your resume , in your cover letter , and during a job interview, you’ll be one step closer to landing a job.

Companies rely on employees who can handle unexpected challenges, identify persistent issues, and offer workable solutions in a positive way.

It is important to improve problem solving skill because this is a skill that can be cultivated and nurtured so you can become better at dealing with problems over time.

What are problem solving skills (definition, examples, and how to list on a resume)

Types of Problem-Solving Skills

How to improve your problem-solving skills, example answers to problem-solving interview questions, how to show off problem-solving skills on a resume, example resume and cover letter with problem-solving skills, more about problem-solving skills, problem solving skills faqs.

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Problem-solving skills are skills that help you identify and solve problems effectively and efficiently . Your ability to solve problems is one of the main ways that hiring managers and recruiters assess candidates, as those with excellent problem-solving skills are more likely to autonomously carry out their responsibilities.

A true problem solver can look at a situation, find the cause of the problem (or causes, because there are often many issues at play), and then come up with a reasonable solution that effectively fixes the problem or at least remedies most of it.

The ability to solve problems is considered a soft skill , meaning that it’s more of a personality trait than a skill you’ve learned at school, on the job, or through technical training.

That being said, your proficiency with various hard skills will have a direct bearing on your ability to solve problems. For example, it doesn’t matter if you’re a great problem-solver; if you have no experience with astrophysics, you probably won’t be hired as a space station technician .

Problem-solving is considered a skill on its own, but it’s supported by many other skills that can help you be a better problem solver. These skills fall into a few different categories of problem-solving skills.

Problem recognition and analysis. The first step is to recognize that there is a problem and discover what it is or what the root cause of it is.

You can’t begin to solve a problem unless you’re aware of it. Sometimes you’ll see the problem yourself and other times you’ll be told about the problem. Both methods of discovery are very important, but they can require some different skills. The following can be an important part of the process:

Active listening

Data analysis

Historical analysis

Communication

Create possible solutions. You know what the problem is, and you might even know the why of it, but then what? Your next step is the come up with some solutions.

Most of the time, the first solution you come up with won’t be the right one. Don’t fall victim to knee-jerk reactions; try some of the following methods to give you solution options.

Brainstorming

Forecasting

Decision-making

Topic knowledge/understanding

Process flow

Evaluation of solution options. Now that you have a lot of solution options, it’s time to weed through them and start casting some aside. There might be some ridiculous ones, bad ones, and ones you know could never be implemented. Throw them away and focus on the potentially winning ideas.

This step is probably the one where a true, natural problem solver will shine. They intuitively can put together mental scenarios and try out solutions to see their plusses and minuses. If you’re still working on your skill set — try listing the pros and cons on a sheet of paper.

Prioritizing

Evaluating and weighing

Solution implementation. This is your “take action” step. Once you’ve decided which way to go, it’s time to head down that path and see if you were right. This step takes a lot of people and management skills to make it work for you.

Dependability

Teambuilding

Troubleshooting

Follow-Through

Believability

Trustworthiness

Project management

Evaluation of the solution. Was it a good solution? Did your plan work or did it fail miserably? Sometimes the evaluation step takes a lot of work and review to accurately determine effectiveness. The following skills might be essential for a thorough evaluation.

Customer service

Feedback responses

Flexibility

You now have a ton of skills in front of you. Some of them you have naturally and some — not so much. If you want to solve a problem, and you want to be known for doing that well and consistently, then it’s time to sharpen those skills.

Develop industry knowledge. Whether it’s broad-based industry knowledge, on-the-job training , or very specific knowledge about a small sector — knowing all that you can and feeling very confident in your knowledge goes a long way to learning how to solve problems.

Be a part of a solution. Step up and become involved in the problem-solving process. Don’t lead — but follow. Watch an expert solve the problem and, if you pay attention, you’ll learn how to solve a problem, too. Pay attention to the steps and the skills that a person uses.

Practice solving problems. Do some role-playing with a mentor , a professor , co-workers, other students — just start throwing problems out there and coming up with solutions and then detail how those solutions may play out.

Go a step further, find some real-world problems and create your solutions, then find out what they did to solve the problem in actuality.

Identify your weaknesses. If you could easily point out a few of your weaknesses in the list of skills above, then those are the areas you need to focus on improving. How you do it is incredibly varied, so find a method that works for you.

Solve some problems — for real. If the opportunity arises, step in and use your problem-solving skills. You’ll never really know how good (or bad) you are at it until you fail.

That’s right, failing will teach you so much more than succeeding will. You’ll learn how to go back and readdress the problem, find out where you went wrong, learn more from listening even better. Failure will be your best teacher ; it might not make you feel good, but it’ll make you a better problem-solver in the long run.

Once you’ve impressed a hiring manager with top-notch problem-solving skills on your resume and cover letter , you’ll need to continue selling yourself as a problem-solver in the job interview.

There are three main ways that employers can assess your problem-solving skills during an interview:

By asking questions that relate to your past experiences solving problems

Posing hypothetical problems for you to solve

By administering problem-solving tests and exercises

The third method varies wildly depending on what job you’re applying for, so we won’t attempt to cover all the possible problem-solving tests and exercises that may be a part of your application process.

Luckily, interview questions focused on problem-solving are pretty well-known, and most can be answered using the STAR method . STAR stands for situation, task, action, result, and it’s a great way to organize your answers to behavioral interview questions .

Let’s take a look at how to answer some common interview questions built to assess your problem-solving capabilities:

At my current job as an operations analyst at XYZ Inc., my boss set a quarterly goal to cut contractor spending by 25% while maintaining the same level of production and moving more processes in-house. It turned out that achieving this goal required hiring an additional 6 full-time employees, which got stalled due to the pandemic. I suggested that we widen our net and hire remote employees after our initial applicant pool had no solid candidates. I ran the analysis on overhead costs and found that if even 4 of the 6 employees were remote, we’d save 16% annually compared to the contractors’ rates. In the end, all 6 employees we hired were fully remote, and we cut costs by 26% while production rose by a modest amount.
I try to step back and gather research as my first step. For instance, I had a client who needed a graphic designer to work with Crello, which I had never seen before, let alone used. After getting the project details straight, I began meticulously studying the program the YouTube tutorials, and the quick course Crello provides. I also reached out to coworkers who had worked on projects for this same client in the past. Once I felt comfortable with the software, I started work immediately. It was a slower process because I had to be more methodical in my approach, but by putting in some extra hours, I turned in the project ahead of schedule. The client was thrilled with my work and was shocked to hear me joke afterward that it was my first time using Crello.
As a digital marketer , website traffic and conversion rates are my ultimate metrics. However, I also track less visible metrics that can illuminate the story behind the results. For instance, using Google Analytics, I found that 78% of our referral traffic was coming from one affiliate, but that these referrals were only accounting for 5% of our conversions. Another affiliate, who only accounted for about 10% of our referral traffic, was responsible for upwards of 30% of our conversions. I investigated further and found that the second, more effective affiliate was essentially qualifying our leads for us before sending them our way, which made it easier for us to close. I figured out exactly how they were sending us better customers, and reached out to the first, more prolific but less effective affiliate with my understanding of the results. They were able to change their pages that were referring us traffic, and our conversions from that source tripled in just a month. It showed me the importance of digging below the “big picture” metrics to see the mechanics of how revenue was really being generated through digital marketing.

You can bring up your problem-solving skills in your resume summary statement , in your work experience , and under your education section , if you’re a recent graduate. The key is to include items on your resume that speak direclty to your ability to solve problems and generate results.

If you can, quantify your problem-solving accomplishments on your your resume . Hiring managers and recruiters are always more impressed with results that include numbers because they provide much-needed context.

This sample resume for a Customer Service Representative will give you an idea of how you can work problem solving into your resume.

Michelle Beattle 111 Millennial Parkway Chicago, IL 60007 (555) 987-6543 [email protected] Professional Summary Qualified Customer Services Representative with 3 years in a high-pressure customer service environment. Professional, personable, and a true problem solver. Work History ABC Store — Customer Service Representative 01/2015 — 12/2017 Managed in-person and phone relations with customers coming in to pick up purchases, return purchased products, helped find and order items not on store shelves, and explained details and care of merchandise. Became a key player in the customer service department and was promoted to team lead. XYZ Store — Customer Service Representative/Night Manager 01/2018 — 03/2020, released due to Covid-19 layoffs Worked as the night manager of the customer service department and filled in daytime hours when needed. Streamlined a process of moving customers to the right department through an app to ease the burden on the phone lines and reduce customer wait time by 50%. Was working on additional wait time problems when the Covid-19 pandemic caused our stores to close permanently. Education Chicago Tech 2014-2016 Earned an Associate’s Degree in Principles of Customer Care Skills Strong customer service skills Excellent customer complaint resolution Stock record management Order fulfillment New product information Cash register skills and proficiency Leader in problem solving initiatives

You can see how the resume gives you a chance to point out your problem-solving skills and to show where you used them a few times. Your cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself and list a few things that make you stand out from the crowd.

Michelle Beattle 111 Millennial Parkway Chicago, IL 60007 (555) 987-6543 [email protected] Dear Mary McDonald, I am writing in response to your ad on Zippia for a Customer Service Representative . Thank you for taking the time to consider me for this position. Many people believe that a job in customer service is simply listening to people complain all day. I see the job as much more than that. It’s an opportunity to help people solve problems, make their experience with your company more enjoyable, and turn them into life-long advocates of your brand. Through my years of experience and my educational background at Chicago Tech, where I earned an Associate’s Degree in the Principles of Customer Care, I have learned that the customers are the lifeline of the business and without good customer service representatives, a business will falter. I see it as my mission to make each and every customer I come in contact with a fan. I have more than five years of experience in the Customer Services industry and had advanced my role at my last job to Night Manager. I am eager to again prove myself as a hard worker, a dedicated people person, and a problem solver that can be relied upon. I have built a professional reputation as an employee that respects all other employees and customers, as a manager who gets the job done and finds solutions when necessary, and a worker who dives in to learn all she can about the business. Most of my customers have been very satisfied with my resolution ideas and have returned to do business with us again. I believe my expertise would make me a great match for LMNO Store. I have enclosed my resume for your review, and I would appreciate having the opportunity to meet with you to further discuss my qualifications. Thank you again for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Michelle Beattle

You’ve no doubt noticed that many of the skills listed in the problem-solving process are repeated. This is because having these abilities or talents is so important to the entire course of getting a problem solved.

In fact, they’re worthy of a little more attention. Many of them are similar, so we’ll pull them together and discuss how they’re important and how they work together.

Communication, active listening, and customer service skills. No matter where you are in the process of problem-solving, you need to be able to show that you’re listening and engaged and really hearing what the problem is or what a solution may be.

Obviously, the other part of this is being able to communicate effectively so people understand what you’re saying without confusion. Rolled into this are customer service skills , which really are all about listening and responding appropriately — it’s the ultimate in interpersonal communications.

Analysis (data and historical), research, and topic knowledge/understanding. This is how you intellectually grasp the issue and approach it. This can come from studying the topic and the process or it can come from knowledge you’ve gained after years in the business. But the best solutions come from people who thoroughly understand the problem.

Creativity, brainstorming, troubleshooting, and flexibility. All of you creative thinkers will like this area because it’s when your brain is at its best.

Coming up with ideas, collaborating with others, leaping over hurdles, and then being able to change courses immediately, if need be, are all essential. If you’re not creative by nature, then having a team of diverse thinkers can help you in this area.

Dependability, believability, trustworthiness, and follow-through. Think about it, these are all traits a person needs to have to make change happen and to make you comfortable taking that next step with them. Someone who is shifty and shady and never follows through, well, you’re simply not going to do what they ask, are you?

Leadership, teambuilding, decision-making, and project management. These are the skills that someone who is in charge is brimming with. These are the leaders you enjoy working for because you know they’re doing what they can to keep everything in working order. These skills can be learned but they’re often innate.

Prioritizing, prediction, forecasting, evaluating and weighing, and process flow. If you love flow charts, data analysis, prediction modeling, and all of that part of the equation, then you might have some great problem-solving abilities.

These are all great skills because they can help you weed out bad ideas, see flaws, and save massive amounts of time in trial and error.

What is a good example of problem-solving skills?

Good examples of porblem-solving skills include research, analysis, creativity, communciation, and decision-making. Each of these skills build off one another to contribute to the problem solving process. Research and analysis allow you to identify a problem.

Creativity and analysis help you consider different solutions. Meanwhile, communication and decision-making are key to working with others to solve a problem on a large scale.

What are 3 key attributes of a good problem solver?

3 key attributes of a good problem solver are persistence, intellegince, and empathy. Persistence is crucial to remain motivated to work through challenges. Inellegince is needed to make smart, informed choices. Empathy is crucial to maintain positive relationships with others as well as yourself.

What can I say instead of problem-solving skills?

Instead of saying problem-solving skills, you can say the following:

Critical thinker

Solutions-oriented

Engineering

Using different words is helpful, especially when writing your resume and cover letter.

What is problem-solving in the workplace?

Problem-solving in the workplace is the ability to work through any sort of challenge, conflict, or unexpected situation and still achieve business goals. Though it varies by profession, roblem-solving in the workplace is very important for almost any job, because probelms are inevitable. You need to have the appropriate level of problem-solving skills if you want to succeed in your career, whatever it may be.

Department of Labor – Problem Solving and Critical Thinking

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Kristin Kizer is an award-winning writer, television and documentary producer, and content specialist who has worked on a wide variety of written, broadcast, and electronic publications. A former writer/producer for The Discovery Channel, she is now a freelance writer and delighted to be sharing her talents and time with the wonderful Zippia audience.

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Problem Solving Skills: Best Examples & Advice for 2024

excellent solving problems skills

Problem-solving skills are a set of attributes that allow individuals to assess, analyze, and resolve complex situations and challenges that they may encounter in life. It involves the ability to think critically and creatively, identify various options and alternatives, and select the most effective solution to a particular problem.

The constant need for problem-solving skills, both in personal and professional aspects of an individual’s life, highlights the importance of having this skill set. In this article, we will explore the significance of problem-solving skills in personal and professional life and provide some of the best examples and advice to help develop this crucial skill.

Importance of problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills are essential in daily life, from figuring out how to fix a broken appliance or to resolve a conflict with a friend. The same applies to the professional world, as individuals are continually faced with workplace challenges that require immediate and practical solutions.

Employers prioritize problem-solving skills when hiring new employees. This is because companies need people who can think critically and creatively in high-stress situations, who can identify opportunities, innovate and implement new ideas, and adapt to changes accordingly. An employee with excellent problem-solving skills adds value to an organization since they can resolve conflicts, contribute to decision-making, and develop effective strategies that enhance productivity levels.

Personal life heavily benefits from problem-solving skills, as individuals who can navigate through difficult situations can maintain healthy relationships, relieve stress, and handle their affairs confidently. Learning how to manage difficulties in personal life translates to how an individual can manage their professional life, helping them to thrive in the workplace.

Definition of problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills involve various attributes, including analytical and critical thinking, decision-making, creativity, and resourcefulness. The ability to think outside the box, coupled with sound judgment, helps individuals weigh various options and identify the most effective solution.

excellent solving problems skills

Creativity is also a critical aspect of problem-solving since individuals need to think of alternative solutions to try in challenging situations. Finally, resourcefulness helps individuals overcome unforeseen challenges when there are no obvious solutions.

Types of Problems

Problem-solving is not just about finding a solution. It also involves identifying the type of problem you are facing. By doing so, you can determine the best approach to solve the problem.

Categorization of Problems

Problems can be classified in different ways. Here are some common types of problems:

  • Simple problems  are straightforward and have a clear solution. For example, fixing a flat tire on your bike.
  • Complicated problems  are more complex and require more effort to solve. These problems typically have multiple steps and may require specialized knowledge. For example, fixing a broken computer.
  • Complex problems  are the most challenging type of problem. These problems are often dynamic, with changing variables and uncertain outcomes. They require creative thinking and the ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. For example, finding a cure for a new virus.

Different Approaches to Solving Complex Problems

Complex problems require a different approach to solve. Here are some approaches that can be used to tackle complex problems:

  • Collaborative problem-solving.  This approach involves bringing together a diverse group of people with different perspectives and expertise to work on the problem. This can generate fresh ideas and solutions that may not have been possible otherwise.
  • Systems thinking.  This approach involves looking at the problem as part of a larger system. By understanding the system’s interconnected parts and the relationships between them, you can develop a targeted solution that addresses the root cause of the problem.
  • Design thinking.  This approach involves looking at the problem from the user’s perspective. By understanding the user’s needs and experiences, you can develop a solution that meets those needs in a practical way.
  • Agile problem-solving.  This approach involves breaking the problem down into smaller, more manageable parts. This allows you to quickly test and refine solutions, adapting to changing circumstances as needed.

Understanding the type of problem you are facing is crucial to developing an effective solution. By using the appropriate approach, you can solve even the most complex problems.

Steps Involved in Problem-Solving Process

To effectively solve a problem, there are certain steps that need to be followed. In this section, we will discuss the steps involved in the problem-solving process.

Identification of Problem

The first step in problem-solving is identifying the problem. This involves recognizing that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. It’s important to clearly define the problem at this stage, as it will inform the subsequent steps in the process.

Analysis of the Problem

Once the problem has been identified, the next step is to analyze it. This means gathering information and data related to the issue. Understanding the underlying causes of the problem and its impact is key to developing effective solutions.

Defining the Problem

Once the problem has been analyzed, it’s time to define it more precisely. This involves looking at the root causes of the problem and identifying the key issues that need to be addressed. This step will help to ensure that the problem is properly understood and that the right solutions are developed.

Developing Alternative Solutions

With a clear understanding of the problem, it’s time to develop alternative solutions. The aim is to generate a range of options that could potentially address the problem. Brainstorming is a great technique for this stage, as it encourages creative thinking and the exploration of new ideas.

Evaluating the Alternative Solutions

Having generated a range of potential solutions, the next step is to evaluate them. This involves assessing how well each option would address the problem and examining any potential drawbacks. It’s important to be objective during this stage, and to consider each solution on its own merits.

Choosing the Best Solution

Once the potential solutions have been evaluated, the next step is to choose the best one. This means selecting the option that is most likely to solve the problem effectively, efficiently and within the given timeframe. It is important to consider both short-term and long-term consequences of the solution.

excellent solving problems skills

Implementing the Solution

With the best solution chosen, the next step is to implement it. This means putting the plan into action and making sure that everyone involved is clear on their role and responsibilities. Communication, collaboration and cooperation between team members are crucial to successful implementation.

Follow-up and Monitoring

The final step in the problem-solving process is follow-up and monitoring. This involves checking that the solution is working as intended and making any necessary adjustments. It’s important to track progress and identify any further challenges or problems that arise, so that they can be dealt with promptly.

Effective problem-solving involves a systematic and analytical approach that requires careful consideration of a range of factors. By following these steps, it is possible to identify and implement solutions that address the root causes of problems and create positive outcomes.

Common Mistakes in Solving Problems

In any problem-solving process, there are common mistakes that teams or individuals can make, leading to a failed outcome. Here are some of the most common ones:

Poor Communication

Poor communication can be the root of many problems in a team or project. It can lead to misunderstandings, missed deadlines, wasted resources, and ultimately, project failure. Communication issues can arise from language barriers, misinterpretation of messages, or even lack of motivation.

To avoid poor communication, it is essential to prioritize clear and concise communication channels. Listen intently and provide feedback actively, and be open to constructive criticism. Stay focused on the outcomes, and ensure that all communication aligns with the project’s goals.

Inaccurate or Insufficient Information

A lack of accurate and relevant information can derail a problem-solving process. Teams must be diligent in researching all available data, seeking expert advice, and analyzing data to make informed decisions. Failure to do so can result in missed opportunities, incorrect solutions, and delays in finding the right solution.

To prevent insufficient information, create a plan to gather all the available data, including the potential sources of information. Involve team members who are experts in their fields, and seek guidance from senior stakeholders. Use the gathered data to create an informed decision-making process.

Failure to Involve Key Stakeholders

It is crucial to involve all relevant stakeholders in the problem-solving process. Failure to involve stakeholders can lead to problematic communication, incomplete information, and unaddressed concerns that arise later.

To prevent failure to involve key stakeholders, identify all stakeholders at the beginning of the problem-solving process, including team members, customers, end-users, and senior leaders. Set up regular communication channels with stakeholder groups and ensure that all feedback and concerns are adequately addressed to achieve desired outcomes.

Bias and Groupthink

Biases and groupthink can influence and cloud the objectivity of the problem-solving process. Personal biases, opinions, or beliefs can impede the individual’s ability to reason and make rational decisions. Groupthink is a phenomenon when a group places more priority on agreeing with the majority rather than critically analyzing the problem.

To avoid bias and groupthink, team members should be trained in recognizing personal biases and avoiding preconceived notions that may influence decision-making. Encourage active participation from all members and foster a culture of open criticism and discussion.

Overlooking Underlying Issues

While addressing the immediate problems that arise, it is easy to overlook underlying issues that cause recurring problems. Fixing the symptoms and ignoring the root cause can be a short-sighted approach to problem-solving.

To avoid overlooking underlying issues, analyze the problem thoroughly, identifying previous occurrences, and consider metrics to gauge current problems’ severity. Look beyond the most obvious solutions and evaluate alternative approaches that address the underlying issues. Create a checklist to assess if the possible solutions address the root cause.

Problem-Solving Techniques and Tools

In any workplace, problem-solving can be a challenging task, especially if the issue is not well-defined or if a team is not capable of reaching a consensus. Fortunately, there are numerous problem-solving tools and techniques that can aid in resolving any problem or issue. The following are some of the problem-solving techniques and tools that individuals and teams use to overcome various challenges:

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a problem-solving technique that facilitates the collective creation of ideas and potential solutions by a group of individuals. This technique enhances creativity and allows individuals to present their thoughts and ideas freely without judgment or criticism. Some brainstorming techniques include structured brainstorming, rapid ideation, and brainwriting. Brainstorming assists in identifying causes and possible solutions to a problem or challenge.

Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a problem-solving technique that proactively identifies the root cause(s) rather than just treating the symptoms of the problem. RCA focuses on identifying the most basic reason(s) that leads to a problem, suggesting a solution to the cause(s), and preventing the issue from happening again. RCA is an iterative process that involves systematically defining and analyzing the problem to identify the root cause.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis is used to evaluate an organization’s or individual’s internal and external environment. It considers the strengths and weaknesses of the organization or individual, and the opportunities and threats presented by the external environment. The output of a SWOT analysis fit into two categories – internal (strengths and weaknesses) and external (opportunities and threats). It is usually used in creating strategic planning and decision-making.

Fishbone Diagram

Fishbone diagrams, also known as cause-and-effect diagrams, are problem-solving tools used to identify the causes of a specific problem or issue. It is based on the idea that every effect has a cause, and that most problems have multiple causes. The causes are categorized into different aspects or categories such as people, process, environment, or equipment to identify which causes need to be addressed first.

Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA)

FMEA predicts and identifies potential defects or failures before they occur. It provides an essential, structured approach to prioritize possible causes that may cause a defect or failure. FMEA techniques are proactive, assisting the organization or individual to take preventive actions, prioritize potential risks, and mitigate or eliminate the causes of failure.

Pareto Analysis

Pareto Analysis is a statistical problem-solving tool that prioritizes problems or causes based on their severity or impact to the organization or individual. It is also called the 80/20 rule, where 80% of an effect comes from the 20% of the causes. The Pareto chart represents the data, and the focus area of the problem.

Skills Required for Effective Problem Solving

Problem solving is an essential skill that most employers look for in their employees. Effective problem solvers not only overcome challenges, but they also identify new opportunities to keep businesses competitive. Over time, problem solving has been recognized as an incredibly complex activity that requires a diverse range of skills to be effective. This section of the article will focus on six vital key skills for effective problem solving. They are as follows:

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a mental process that is aimed at evaluating information systematically to reach a sound, logical conclusion. When it comes to problem-solving, critical thinking enables us to identify, assess, and analyze the situation’s underlying causes to determine the appropriate course of action. Without critical thinking, decisions are made without thorough consideration of the potential outcomes. Therefore, it is imperative to develop critical thinking skills to become a great problem solver.

Analytical Skills

Analytical skills involve the ability to scrutinize data and information, break them down into small parts, find patterns, and draw logical conclusions. Effective problem solvers must be able to use analytical skills to evaluate different solutions and determine which one is the most appropriate. This skill requires attention to detail, patience, and an analytical mindset to examine the different parts of a problem and determine their relevance.

Creativity and Innovation

Being creative and innovative means that you can think outside the box and come up with non-traditional solutions to complex issues. Effective problem solvers know how to be both creative and innovative, which is essential when situations call for out-of-the-box solutions. Without this skill, problem solvers would always rely on the same tried-and-tested solutions that may not be applicable in all situations.

Decision-Making Skills

Effective problem solving comes with decision making skills. This skill refers to the ability to analyze situations, weigh the pros and cons of different alternatives, and choose the best course of action. A good decision-maker can identify risks and consequences before making a final decision. The decision-making process can be complex, and it helps to have a logical and straightforward approach.

Communication and Collaboration Skills

Communication and collaboration skills are vital to effective problem solving. This skill set involves providing feedback, sharing expertise, and building consensus with team members. Good communication skills can help to prevent misunderstandings and mistakes while improving productivity. Collaboration skills enable you to work effectively as a team to solve complex issues and achieve the desired results.

Persistence and Resilience

Effective problem-solving requires persistence and resilience to overcome challenging obstacles. Persistence involves to continue working to solve a problem despite setbacks and failures, while resilience brings the ability to bounce back from a difficult situation. Effective problem solvers understand that successful problem-solving requires overcoming hurdles and setbacks to achieve your desired outcome.

Effective problem solving demands a diverse range of skills that can be developed and refined over time.

Examples of Problem Solving in Different Environments

As problem solving is an essential skill, it is crucial to understand how it applies in different environments. Here are some examples of problem solving in different areas:

Problem Solving in the Workplace

In the workplace, problem solving is essential in various scenarios. It could be a technical issue that needs fixing, disagreements among team members, or a more significant issue such as losing clients. Problem solving in the workplace requires collaboration and communication among team members to find a solution that benefits everyone.

One example of a successful problem-solving process in the workplace could be applying the “5 Whys” technique. After identifying a problem, teams would ask why it happened five times until its root cause is identified. With this process, it would be easier to find the right solution preventing the problem from happening again.

Problem Solving in Education

Problem-solving skills are vital in education, as students and teachers face numerous issues daily. It could be a student struggling with a particular subject or a teacher struggling to make their class engaging. To address this, it is crucial to identify the real issue and find the right approach to solve it.

For instance, if a student is struggling with a particular subject, a teacher could assess the student’s learning style and adjust their teaching method accordingly. By doing so, the teacher could help the student improve their understanding of the subject, which could result in better grades.

Problem Solving in Personal Life

We all face issues in our personal life, and problem-solving skills could help us overcome them. For instance, if you have trouble managing your finances, you could identify the issue by listing all your expenses and income sources. After identifying where the issue lies, you could create a budget to manage your finances better.

Another example could be when you have trouble sleeping. You could find the cause of your sleep disturbances and find an appropriate solution. It could be turning off electronic devices an hour before bedtime or changing your bedroom’s temperature to improve your sleep.

Problem Solving in Leadership

As a leader, problem-solving skills are crucial to ensure the success of the team or organization. Leaders face various issues such as employee engagement, low productivity, and conflicts among team members. Effective leaders use problem-solving skills to find the root cause of the problem and develop a plan to address it.

One example of an effective problem-solving process for leaders could be using the “SWOT Analysis” technique. By identifying the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, leaders could develop a strategic plan to improve the organization’s overall performance.

Problem-solving skills are a valuable asset in various aspects of life. By understanding how to apply problem-solving skills in different environments, it would be easier to find the right solution that benefits everyone involved.

Ways to Enhance Problem-Solving Skills

As a professional, problem-solving skills are essential for success. As such, it is important for individuals to continually improve these skills. There are several ways to enhance problem-solving skills, and some of the best examples and advice are discussed below.

Practice Effective Communication

Effective communication is essential in problem-solving. Clear communication allows individuals to understand the problems at hand, brainstorm solutions, and communicate potential solutions to colleagues, stakeholders, and clients. Communication skills can be improved through practice, engaging in active listening, and avoiding misunderstandings.

Prepare a Plan and Prioritize Tasks

Preparing a plan and prioritizing tasks enables individuals to systematically tackle and solve problems. Planning involves breaking a problem down into smaller, more manageable parts and identifying the steps necessary to solve each part. Additionally, prioritizing tasks helps individuals determine which problems require immediate attention and which can wait.

Think Outside the Box

Thinking outside the box allows individuals to come up with creative solutions to complex problems. Ideas that are considered outside the norm may lead to innovative solutions that have not been considered by others. To think outside the box, individuals should challenge assumptions, examine the problem from different perspectives, and brainstorm unconventional solutions.

Seek Out Feedback and Learn from Failure

Seeking feedback from colleagues, stakeholders, and clients can provide individuals with new insights and perspectives on a problem. Additionally, seeking feedback can help individuals identify areas of improvement and potential solutions to problems. Failure is also an opportunity for growth and learning. Individuals should analyze failures to understand what went wrong and how to avoid similar problems in the future.

Continually Learn and Expand Knowledge

Continuing to learn and expand knowledge is essential for problem-solving. Individuals should stay up-to-date with the latest industry news, take courses or attend workshops, and read books on the subject of problem-solving. This continuous learning process can help individuals identify new solutions and approaches to problems.

Problem-solving skills are essential for success in any profession. By practicing effective communication, preparing plans and prioritizing tasks, thinking outside the box, seeking out feedback, and continually learning and expanding knowledge, individuals can enhance their problem-solving skills and become more effective professionals.

Overcoming Obstacles to Effective Problem Solving

When it comes to problem solving, it’s not always smooth sailing. Obstacles and roadblocks can arise when trying to tackle a particular issue, and these obstacles can make it challenging to reach a successful resolution. In this section, we will discuss some common obstacles to effective problem solving and some strategies to overcome them.

Resistance to Change

One of the most significant barriers to effective problem solving is resistance to change. Some people are naturally resistant to change, and it takes a lot of persuasion to get them to embrace a new solution. If you encounter resistance to change when working on a problem, it’s essential to help stakeholders see the value of the proposed solution.

One strategy to address resistance to change is to involve those who are resistant in the decision-making process. By including them in the process, they may feel more ownership over the problem and be more open to the changes proposed. Another approach is to provide clear communication on the reasons for the change and the benefits it will bring. By demonstrating that the change is necessary for future success, you can help eliminate resistance.

Fear of Failure

Another obstacle to effective problem solving is a fear of failure. When people are afraid of failure, they may avoid taking risks or trying new ideas, which can prevent progress. To overcome fear of failure, it’s crucial to create a safe and supportive environment for experimentation and risk-taking.

One approach is to encourage people to see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. By reframing failure as a necessary step towards success, you can help people embrace it as an inevitability in problem-solving. Another strategy is to break problems down into smaller, more manageable pieces. By tackling smaller components of the problem, you can build momentum towards a successful outcome that alleviates fears and shows progress.

Lack of Resources

A lack of resources can also hinder effective problem solving. Limited time, budget, or personnel can create significant barriers when trying to solve a problem. To overcome these obstacles, it’s essential to identify alternative resources that can be utilized.

One strategy is to consider all available resources, even those that may not seem immediately relevant. Brainstorming sessions can be helpful in identifying potential resources previously overlooked. Another approach is to consider collaborating with external partners or stakeholders to leverage additional resources. This can expand the available resources and provide a new perspective on problem-solving.

Unclear Goals and Objectives

Finally, unclear goals and objectives can hinder effective problem solving. When people don’t understand what they’re working towards or what success looks like, it can lead to inefficiency and frustration. To address this obstacle, it’s important to establish clear goals and objectives upfront.

One approach is to involve stakeholders in the goal-setting process. By soliciting input and buy-in upfront, you can ensure that everyone understands the desired outcomes and their individual roles in achieving them. Another strategy is to break down larger goals into smaller, more immediate targets.

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How to List Problem-Solving Skills on a Resume [List Included]

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Problem-solving skills are more in-demand than ever. 

Employers love candidates with problem-solving skills because, in 99% of cases, they guarantee you're also logical, creative, clear-headed, and a great decision-maker. 

But claiming you have organizational skills on your resume is not enough. 

To impress recruiters, you've got to prove that you possess them. 

This includes understanding which problem-solving skills you possess and adding them to your resume (the right way), among other things.

This is where this article comes in! We put together everything you need to know about problem-solving skills, including: 

  • 8 Essential Problem-Solving Skills for Your Resume

How to Add Problem-Solving Skills to Your Resume

  • Why Are Problem-Solving Skills Important
  • 6 Problem-Solving Steps

Let's dive right in! 

8 Problem-Solving Skills for Your Resume

Research shows that problem-solving skills consist of several facets : 

  • Identifying and analyzing a problem
  • Taking effective actions
  • Understanding the effect of the decisions
  • Coming up with creative and novel solutions
  • Transferring knowledge from one situation to another
  • Thinking abstractly about problems

As such, there is no single problem-solving skill. Problem-solving includes a set of skills, all of which are equally important in helping your personal and professional life. 

Below, we’ll cover the eight most important problem-solving skills that you can also list on your resume to impress recruiters: 

#1. Research skills

To properly identify and understand a problem, you need excellent research skills. 

Research skills involve being able to gather information from the right sources, reviewing that information in detail to extract the data you need, analyzing the data according to the context, and being able to apply the data to your situation. 

#2. Analytical skills

Analytical skills are required throughout the entire process of solving a problem. 

In a nutshell, analytical skills refer to being able to analyze a situation in depth and from different perspectives . Specifically, you need analytical skills to achieve all of the following while solving a problem:

  • Detect patterns
  • Interpret data
  • Analyze new information
  • Reach conclusions based on several factors

#3. Creativity

Being creative means being able to think outside of the box and look at situations and problems inventively. 

For most people, creativity is mainly associated with creative industries such as arts and crafts, architecture, design, etc. 

In reality, however, creativity is an essential success factor for every job and the data is here to support that. According to this Adobe study , problem-solving (51%) and creativity (47%) have gained the most value in driving salary increases in the last five years. 

When it comes to the process of solving a problem, creativity can help you consider more perspectives, think abstractly about problems, and come up with novel solutions that others haven’t thought of before.

#4. Critical thinking skills

Being able to think critically means that you’re good at rationalizing, understanding the connections between ideas or situations, and logically analyzing any given situation. 

As such, strong critical thinking skills can help you see beyond what’s at face value, make more informed decisions, and anticipate the outcomes of said decisions. 

People who have critical thinking skills share traits such as open-mindedness , cognitive flexibility , skepticism , clarity , and precision . 

#5. Decision-making skills

Before coming up with a single action plan to solve a problem, you’ll need to first brainstorm several possible solutions. 

After that, you need good decision-making skills to choose the best possible solution. Without decision-making skills, you risk prolonging finding a proper solution or aggravating a problem even more. 

#6. Communication skills

With strong communication skills , you’re able to successfully explain the problem to others and propose your solutions. In turn, you can be sure that everyone’s on the same page and that you’re carrying out the action plan accordingly. 

Some communication skills required for problem-solving include: 

  • Active listening
  • Written and verbal communication
  • Giving and receiving feedback

#7. Collaboration

Problem-solving is rarely a process you carry out alone. More often than not, you need to consult relevant stakeholders, give and receive feedback, and work with a team towards a common goal (i.e. solving the problem).

Well, collaboration entails exactly that - working well with others, cooperatively addressing problems, and putting a group’s goal ahead of personal goals. 

Some important collaboration skills that help with problem-solving include: 

  • Conflict resolution
  • Emotional intelligence 

#8. Attention to Detail 

Have you ever heard of the expression “the devil’s in the details?”

It means that something may seem simple on the surface, but in fact, the details make it complicated and are likely to cause problems.

Well, if you’re someone who shows great attention to detail, you’re not likely to let details keep you from solving a problem effectively. 

Not to mention, being able to spot and understand even the smallest details that make up a problem means you’ll be able to grasp the issue in its entire complexity and come up with even more inventive and workable solutions. 

Now that we covered the most important problem-solving skills, we’ll show you how to add them to your resume so that you can stand out from other candidates. 

Let us walk you through the process, step-by-step: 

#1. Mention Your Problem-Solving Skills on Your Resume Summary

The resume summary is a three or four-sentence paragraph positioned at the top of your resume that includes: 

  • Your profession and years of experience 
  • Your top skills (i.e. hard skills or soft skills)
  • One or two noteworthy achievements 

problem-solving-skills-resume-summary

The goal of the resume summary is to catch the hiring manager’s attention, show them you’re a relevant candidate and get them to go through the rest of your resume in detail. 

As such, it’s your first chance to highlight your problem-solving skills effectively. You can either do that by mentioning them among your top skills or by mentioning an achievement that proves you possess a given skill.

In the best-case scenario, you can even do both. 

Here is an example of how you can include problem-solving skills in your resume summary: 

  • Behavioral psychologist with 7+ years of experience in the field. Great research, analytical, and communication skills. Over the last eight years, I’ve worked closely with more than 100 patients with different behavioral disorders, helping them improve their personal and professional lives through different treatment methods. 

#2. Add the RIGHT Problem-Solving Skills Under Your Soft Skills

Secondly, you should list your problem-solving skills under your resume’s soft skills section . 

The listing part is pretty easy - simply create a section titled Skills and write down your problem-solving skills.

There is, however, one caveat: 

You don’t want to overkill your skills section by listing every problem-solving skill we covered in this article.

Not only will the hiring manager have trouble believing you possess each and every skill, but there’s also a high chance you don’t even need all those skills to begin with. 

To make your skills section as relevant as possile, do the following: 

  • Check the job description. The job description can show you exactly what skills you need for the job. If you’re applying for, say, a software engineering position, you’ll probably be required to have the following problem-solving skills: analytical skills, creativity, attention to detail, and cognitive flexibility. 
  • Identify the skills you possess. Think about which skills you can back up with actual experience from your previous jobs. Only list problem-solving skills that you actually possess and that you can prove you possess on your resume. 
  • Add those skills under your soft skills. Then, add the problem-solving skills that you have and that are required in the job under your resume’s “Soft Skills” section. 

#3. Prove Your Problem-Solving Skills In Your Work Experience Section

Finally, you should use the work experience section to prove that you’ve got the problem-solving skills you’ve mentioned throughout your resume. 

Anyone can just claim that they’ve got problem-solving skills on their resume - not everyone can back them up with experience.

Here’s what you can do to convey that you possess problem-solving skills and also make your work experience section as impactful as possible: 

  • Tailor your work experience to the job. Only add past jobs that are relevant to the position you are applying for now. If you’re applying for, say, a software engineering position, the hiring manager will be interested in your previous jobs in the field, but probably not too interested in the time you worked as a server at a restaurant. 
  • Focus on your achievements instead of your responsibilities. More often than not, hiring managers know exactly what your responsibilities consisted of in previous jobs. What they want to know is how you made a positive impact with your achievements. 
  • Make your achievements quantifiable. Speaking of achievements, you want to make them as quantifiable as possible. After all “treated ten patients in the course of a year using positive reinforcement” sounds much better than “treated ten patients.”
  • Use the Laszlo Bock formula . If you’re having trouble phrasing your achievements, the following formula will probably be of help: “Accomplished X as measured by Y doing X.” 
  • Leverage action verbs and keywords. There are hundreds of words and verbs you can use instead of “did,” “accomplished,” etc. The more descriptive you are of your achievements, the more impressive they can sound.

And here’s an example of a project manager describing their problem-solving skills in their work experience section:

  • Fixed company communication issues by implementing a new project management solution. 
  • Improved team productivity by implementing time-tracking software and doing daily stand-up calls.
  • Managed to meet all client deliverable deadlines in 2022.

Why Are Problem-Solving Skills Important?

Are you wondering what exactly is it that makes problem-solving skills so important? 

After all, there are hundreds of soft skills out there that you can master, improve, or learn how to add to your resume. So it’s normal to wonder “why should I focus on problem-solving?” 

Here is why problem-solving skills matter:

  • They can improve your employability. Problem-solving skills are among the most important skills to employers across a range of occupations. In short, employers are always looking for proactive thinkers who can address professional challenges.
  • They can help you grow in your career more easily. You’ll be more likely to get promoted if you can come up with creative solutions to the different problems that you’ll face throughout your career.
  • They can become an essential part of your personal brand . Your current employer, coworkers, and future employers alike will see you as someone creative, reliable, and helpful.
  • They are related to a range of other valuable skills. When you prove you’re a problem solver, you’re effectively saying you’re attentive to detail, logical, creative, analytical, curious, and other things employers are looking for in their employees.

10 Jobs That Require Problem-Solving Skills

As we’ve already mentioned, problem-solving skills come in handy for practically every job. 

Whether you’re a teacher who needs to solve a dispute between peers in your class or a customer representative who needs to help a client, knowing how to go about solving issues is definitely an asset. 

That said, some jobs are all about solving problems. In such cases, problem-solving skills are not just a nice addition to have on your resume - they’re crucial to getting hired. 

Here are the top 10 jobs requiring problem-solving skills in 2024: 

  • Software engineer
  • Air-traffic controller
  • Police officer
  • Social worker
  • Psychologist
  • UX designer

35 Action Verbs You Can Use to Highlight Your Problem-Solving Skills

The language you use to describe your problem-solving skills matters.  

Sure, you can use “ solved” to describe how you dealt with a problem throughout your entire resume and risk coming off as repetitive and unimaginative. 

Or , you can use any of the following action verbs and keywords and make your problem-solving skills pop out in the eyes of recruiters: 

  • Calculate  
  • Critically think 
  • Draw conclusions
  • Experiment 
  • Listen/Listen actively 

The Problem-Solving Process in 6 Steps

Problem-solving is a methodical process. It consists of certain steps that you always need to take if you want to find a good solution. 

The more you understand and practice this process, the better you can get at solving problems. 

Below, we cover the six main steps of problem-solving in detail:

#1. Identify the problem 

The first step to solving a problem is identifying exactly what’s causing it. 

After all, if you’re not focusing on the real underlying issue, you might come up with solutions that don’t fit the problem itself. 

Say, for example, that you’re a teacher that’s facing poor class performance. Identifying whether the problem comes from the students’ not studying enough or from your own teaching methods can make a big difference in the solutions you come up with. 

It typically happens that the faster you find the root cause of the problem, the easier it is to find a proper solution. 

#2. Understand the problem

Once you identify the problem, you’ve got to understand it completely. Here are some questions you can ask to make sure you properly understand a problem: 

  • What is the scale of the problem? 
  • What are its short and long-term effects? 
  • Have you faced something like this before?
  • Can the problem be solved by dividing it into smaller parts?

The better you understand the problem in its complexity, the more likely you are to come up with effective solutions. 

#3. Research the systems that make up the problem 

In many cases, solving a problem will be a complex undertaking. See, complex problems are often the result of several different underlying systems that you need to understand to find a dynamic solution. 

Let’s take the teacher example from above. 

If a certain student is not doing too well and keeps getting poor grades, you might be tempted to go the easy route and simply chastise them and tell them to study more.

This, in a lot of cases, might simply not work because you’re not addressing the root cause of the problem.

The student might, for example, be burned out , unmotivated by the curriculum, or simply struggling with specific topics.

A problem-solving solution that’s more likely to work would be to talk to the student (or their parents), try to understand the reason for their poor grades, and address the root cause behind the problem itself.

#4. Visualize the problem 

This may not apply to all situations, but it can definitely come in handy for most. 

Drawing a diagram to visualize the situation or your solution to the problem can help you grasp its complexity better - especially if the problem is multi-faceted. Anything from PowerPoint to a piece of white paper can be a good tool to visualize your problem, highlight the problem area, and tackle it more effectively.

#5. Brainstorm solutions 

After you’ve done all the above, it’s time to start thinking about solutions. 

This is another step of the problem-solving process that’s based on collaboration and effective communication. In the brainstorming phase, you should sit with team members or relevant stakeholders and come up with as many creative ideas and solutions as possible. 

This is not where you come up with your most refined, well-thought-out ideas. Instead, it’s where you discuss freely and combine diverse knowledge and analysis of the problem to come up with diverse solutions. 

Brainstorming is an essential part of problem-solving that can help you break out of boring or predictable ideas and thinking patterns. 

#6. Choose the best answer(s)

This is where decision-making skills come in. With a list of different potential solutions, you can narrow down your options to finally choose the best one. 

To reach a solution more easily, take the following into consideration:

  • Your company’s/organization’s objectives
  • The budget and the timeframe at your disposal
  • The success outcomes
  • Potential risks linked to the solution 

Finally, discuss your solutions with relevant stakeholders and team members to gather all the possible feedback that can help you make the best possible decision. 

And remember - once you’ve chosen the best possible solution to a problem, your work is far from over. Being a problem solver also includes the following: 

  • Develop and implement an action plan
  • Monitor the progress of your plan 
  • Make necessary adjustments during the process
  • Evaluate the outcomes of your solution 

Problem-Solving Skills Resume Example

Problem-Solving-Skills-Resume-Example

Want a resume that makes your problem-solving skills pop like the above example? 

Use one of our tried-and-tested resume templates . 

They’re free, modern, and created in collaboration with some of the best HR professionals from around the globe!

Key Takeaways 

And that's a wrap on problem-solving skills. By now, you should know everything there is to know on the topic. 

Before you go, here are the main points we covered in this article: 

  • Problem-solving skills are a set of soft skills that help you solve problems effectively. They involve critical thinking, analytical skills, creativity, communication skills, and attention to detail. 
  • Problem-solving skills can improve your employability, work performance, and personal brand. 
  • Add your problem-solving skills to your resume summary, under the soft skills section, and in your work history section. 
  • When you’re creating your work history section, make sure to tailor it to the job, focus on your achievements and make them quantifiable, and use action verbs and keywords from the job description. 
  • To get better at solving problems, follow these steps: identify and understand the problem, research the systems that make up the problem, visualize the problem, brainstorm, and choose the best possible solution. 
  • Once that’s done, create an action plan and make sure to monitor its progress as you’re implementing it. 

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What Are Problem-Solving Skills? (Examples Included)

Mike Simpson 0 Comments

excellent solving problems skills

By Mike Simpson

Problem-solving skills are important not just for work. In the words of Karl Popper , “All life is problem-solving.”

What on earth does that mean? Simply that being alive means facing challenges. With problem-solving skills, you can navigate issues with greater ease, making hard times, well, less hard.

But what are problem-solving skills? How do you know if you have them or not? Why do they matter to your job search? And what should you do if you don’t feel yours are up to snuff? Luckily, we’re about to get into all of that.

If you’re curious about the world of problem-solving skills, here’s what you need to know.

What Are Problem-Solving Skills?

Before we dig into any examples, let’s focus first on an important question: what are problem-solving skills.

To answer that question, let’s start with the barebones basics. According to Merriam-Webster , problem-solving is “the process or act of finding a solution to a problem.” Why does that matter? Well, because it gives you insight into what problem-solving skills are.

Any skill that helps you find solutions to problems can qualify. And that means problem-solving skills aren’t just one capability, but a toolbox filled with soft skills and hard skills that come together during your time of need.

The ability to solve problems is relevant to any part of your life. Whether your writing a grocery list or dealing with a car that won’t start, you’re actually problem-solving.

The same is true at work, too. Most tasks actually involve a degree of problem-solving. Really? Really.

Think about it this way; when you’re given an assignment, you’re being asked, “Can you do this thing?” Doing that thing is the problem.

Then, you have to find a path that lets you accomplish what you need to do. That is problem-solving.

Yes, sometimes what you need to handle isn’t “challenging” in the difficulty sense. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t count.

Besides, some of what you need to do will legitimately be hard. Maybe you’re given a new responsibility, or something goes wrong during a project. When that happens, you’ll have to navigate unfamiliar territory, gather new information, and think outside of the box. That’s problem-solving, too.

That’s why hiring managers favor candidates with problem-solving skills. They make you more effective in your role, increasing the odds that you can find solutions whenever the need arises.

How Are Problem-Solving Skills Relevant to a Job Search?

Alright, you probably have a good idea of what problem-solving skills are. Now, it’s time to talk about why they matter to your job search.

We’ve already touched on one major point: hiring managers prefer candidates with strong problem-solving skills. That alone makes these capabilities a relevant part of the equation. If you don’t show the hiring manager you’ve got what it takes to excel, you may struggle to land a position.

But that isn’t the only reason these skills matter. Problem-solving skills can help you during the entire job search process. After all, what’s a job search but a problem – or a series of problems – that needs an answer.

You need a new job; that’s the core problem you’re solving. But every step is its own unique challenge. Finding an opening that matches your skills, creating a resume that resonates with the hiring manager, nailing the interview, and negotiating a salary … those are all smaller problems that are part of the bigger one.

So, problem-solving skills really are at the core of the job search experience. By having strong capabilities in this area, you may find a new position faster than you’d expect.

Okay, you may be thinking, “If hiring managers prefer candidates with problem-solving skills, which ones are they after? Are certain problem-solving capabilities more important today? Is there something I should be going out of my way to showcase?”

While any related skills are worth highlighting, some may get you further than others. Analysis, research, creativity, collaboration , organization, and decision-making are all biggies. With those skills, you can work through the entire problem-solving process, making them worthwhile additions to your resume.

But that doesn’t mean you have to focus there solely. Don’t shy away from showcasing everything you bring to the table. That way, if a particular hiring manager is looking for a certain capability, you’re more likely to tap on what they’re after.

How to Highlight Problem-Solving Skills for Job Search

At this point, it’s ridiculously clear that problem-solving skills are valuable in the eyes of hiring managers. So, how do you show them that you’ve got all of the capabilities they are after? By using the right approach.

When you’re writing your resume or cover letter , your best bet is to highlight achievements that let you put your problem-solving skills to work. That way, you can “show” the hiring manager you have what it takes.

Showing is always better than telling. Anyone can write down, “I have awesome problem-solving skills.” The thing is, that doesn’t really prove that you do. With a great example, you offer up some context, and that makes a difference.

How do you decide on which skills to highlight on your resume or cover letter? By having a great strategy. With the Tailoring Method , it’s all about relevancy. The technique helps you identify skills that matter to that particular hiring manager, allowing you to speak directly to their needs.

Plus, you can use the Tailoring Method when you answer job interview questions . With that approach, you’re making sure those responses are on-point, too.

But when do you talk about your problem-solving capabilities during an interview? Well, there’s a good chance you’ll get asked problem-solving interview questions during your meeting. Take a look at those to see the kinds of questions that are perfect for mentioning these skills.

However, you don’t have to stop there. If you’re asked about your greatest achievement or your strengths, those could be opportunities, too. Nearly any open-ended question could be the right time to discuss those skills, so keep that in mind as you practice for your interview.

How to Develop Problem-Solving Skills If You Don’t Have Them

Developing problem-solving skills may seem a bit tricky on the surface, especially if you think you don’t have them. The thing is, it doesn’t actually have to be hard. You simply need to use the right strategy.

First, understand that you probably do have problem-solving skills; you simply may not have realized it. After all, life is full of challenges that you have to tackle, so there’s a good chance you’ve developed some abilities along the way.

Now, let’s reframe the question and focus on how to improve your problem-solving skills. Here’s how to go about it.

Understand the Problem-Solving Process

In many cases, problem-solving is all about the process. You:

  • Identify the problem
  • Analyze the key elements
  • Look for potential solutions
  • Examine the options for viability and risk
  • Decide on an approach
  • Review the outcome for lessons

By understanding the core process, you can apply it more effectively. That way, when you encounter an issue, you’ll know how to approach it, increasing the odds you’ll handle the situation effectively.

Try Puzzles and Games

Any activity that lets you take the steps listed above could help you hone your problem-solving skills. For example, brainteasers, puzzles, and logic-based games can be great places to start.

Whether it’s something as straightforward – but nonetheless challenging – as Sudoku or a Rubik’s Cube, or something as complex as Settlers of Catan, it puts your problem-solving skills to work. Plus, if you enjoy the activity, it makes skill-building fun, making it a win-win.

Look for Daily Opportunities

If you’re looking for a practical approach, you’re in luck. You can also look at the various challenges you face during the day and think about how to overcome them.

For example, if you always experience a mid-day energy slump that hurts your productivity, take a deep dive into that problem. Define what’s happening, think about why it occurs, consider various solutions, pick one to try, and analyze the results.

By using the problem-solving approach more often in your life, you’ll develop those skills further and make using these capabilities a habit. Plus, you may find ways to improve your day-to-day living, which is a nice bonus.

Volunteer for “Stretch” Projects

If you’re currently employed, volunteering for projects that push you slightly outside of your comfort zone can help you develop problem-solving skills, too. You’ll encounter the unknown and have to think outside of the box, both of which can boost critical problem-solving-related skills.

Plus, you may gain other capabilities along the way, like experience with new technologies or tools. That makes the project an even bigger career booster, which is pretty awesome.

List of Problem-Solving Skills

Alright, we’ve taken a pretty deep dive into what problem-solving skills are. Now, it’s time for some problem-solving skills examples.

As we mentioned above, there are a ton of capabilities and traits that can support better problem-solving. By understanding what they are, you can showcase the right abilities during your job search.

So, without further ado, here is a quick list of problem-solving skill examples:

  • Collaboration
  • Organization
  • Decision-Making
  • Troubleshooting
  • Self-Reliance
  • Self-Motivation
  • Communication
  • Attention to Detail
  • Brainstorming
  • Forecasting
  • Active Listening
  • Accountability
  • Open-Mindedness
  • Critical Thinking
  • Flexibility

Do you have to showcase all of those skills during your job search individually? No, not necessarily. Instead, you want to highlight a range of capabilities based on what the hiring manager is after. If you’re using the Tailoring Method, you’ll know which ones need to make their way into your resume, cover letter, and interview answers.

Now, are there other skills that support problem-solving? Yes, there certainly can be.

Essentially any skill that helps you go from the problem to the solution can, in its own right, be a problem-solving skill.

All of the skills above can be part of the equation. But, if you have another capability that helps you flourish when you encounter an obstacle, it can count, too.

Reflect on your past experience and consider how you’ve navigated challenges in the past. If a particular skill helped you do that, then it’s worth highlighting during a job search.

If you would like to find out more about skills to put on a resume , we’ve taken a close look at the topic before. Along with problem-solving skills, we dig into a variety of other areas, helping you choose what to highlight so that you can increase your odds of landing your perfect job.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, problem-solving skills are essential for professionals in any kind of field. By honing your capabilities and showcasing them during your job search, you can become a stronger candidate and employee. In the end, that’s all good stuff, making it easier for you to keep your career on track today, tomorrow, and well into the future.

excellent solving problems skills

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com.

His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others.

Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .

About The Author

Mike simpson.

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Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .

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Everybody can benefit from having good problem solving skills as we all encounter problems on a daily basis. Some of these problems are obviously more severe or complex than others.

It would be wonderful to have the ability to solve all problems efficiently and in a timely fashion without difficulty, unfortunately though there is no one way in which all problems can be solved.

You will discover, as you read through our pages on problem solving, that the subject is complex.

However well prepared we are for problem solving, there is always an element of the unknown. Although planning and structuring will help make the problem solving process more likely to be successful, good judgement and an element of good luck will ultimately determine whether problem solving was a success.

Interpersonal relationships fail and businesses fail because of poor problem solving.

This is often due to either problems not being recognised or being recognised but not being dealt with appropriately.

Problem solving skills are highly sought after by employers as many companies rely on their employees to identify and solve problems.

A lot of the work in problem solving involves understanding what the underlying issues of the problem really are - not the symptoms. Dealing with a customer complaint may be seen as a problem that needs to be solved, and it's almost certainly a good idea to do so. The employee dealing with the complaint should be asking what has caused the customer to complain in the first place, if the cause of the complaint can be eliminated then the problem is solved.

In order to be effective at problem solving you are likely to need some other key skills, which include:

Creativity. Problems are usually solved either intuitively or systematically. Intuition is used when no new knowledge is needed - you know enough to be able to make a quick decision and solve the problem, or you use common sense or experience to solve the problem. More complex problems or problems that you have not experienced before will likely require a more systematic and logical approach to solve, and for these you will need to use creative thinking. See our page on Creative Thinking for more information.

Researching Skills. Defining and solving problems often requires you to do some research: this may be a simple Google search or a more rigorous research project. See our Research Methods section for ideas on how to conduct effective research.

Team Working. Many problems are best defined and solved with the input of other people. Team working may sound like a 'work thing' but it is just as important at home and school as well as in the workplace. See our Team-Working page for more.

Emotional Intelligence. It is worth considering the impact that a problem and/or its solution has on you and other people. Emotional intelligence, the ability to recognise the emotions of yourself and others, will help guide you to an appropriate solution. See our Emotional Intelligence pages for more.

Risk Management. Solving a problem involves a certain amount of risk - this risk needs to be weighed up against not solving the problem. You may find our Risk Management page useful.

Decision Making . Problem solving and decision making are closely related skills, and making a decision is an important part of the problem solving process as you will often be faced with various options and alternatives. See Decision Making for more.

The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.

John Foster Dulles, Former US Secretary of State.

What is a Problem?

The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1995) defines a problem as:

“ A doubtful or difficult matter requiring a solution ”
“ Something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with.”

It is worth also considering our own view of what a problem is.

We are constantly exposed to opportunities in life, at work, at school and at home. However many opportunities are missed or not taken full advantage of. Often we are unsure how to take advantage of an opportunity and create barriers - reasons why we can't take advantage. These barriers can turn a potentially positive situation into a negative one, a problem.

Are we missing the 'big problem'? It is human nature to notice and focus on small, easy to solve problems but much harder to work on the big problems that may be causing some of the smaller ones.

It's useful to consider the following questions when faced with a problem.

Is the problem real or perceived?

Is this problem really an opportunity?

Does the problem need solving?

All problems have two features in common: goals and barriers.

Problems involve setting out to achieve some objective or desired state of affairs and can include avoiding a situation or event.

Goals can be anything that you wish to achieve, or where you want to be. If you are hungry then your goal is probably to eat something. If you are the head of an organisation (CEO), then your main goal may be to maximise profits and this main goal may need to be split into numerous sub-goals in order to fulfil the ultimate aim of increasing profits.

If there were no barriers in the way of achieving a goal, then there would be no problem. Problem solving involves overcoming the barriers or obstacles that prevent the immediate achievement of goals.

Following our examples above, if you feel hungry then your goal is to eat. A barrier to this may be that you have no food available - so you take a trip to the supermarket and buy some food, removing the barrier and thus solving the problem. Of course for the CEO wanting to increase profits there may be many more barriers preventing the goal from being reached. The CEO needs to attempt to recognise these barriers and remove them or find other ways to achieve the goals of the organisation.

Our problem solving pages provide a simple and structured approach to problem solving.

The approach referred to is generally designed for problem solving in an organisation or group context, but can also be easily adapted to work at an individual level at home or in education.

Trying to solve a complex problem alone however can be a mistake. The old adage " A problem shared is a problem halved " is sound advice.

Talking to others about problems is not only therapeutic but can help you see things from a different point of view, opening up more potential solutions.

Stages of Problem Solving

Effective problem solving usually involves working through a number of steps or stages, such as those outlined below.

Problem Identification:

This stage involves: detecting and recognising that there is a problem; identifying the nature of the problem; defining the problem.

The first phase of problem solving may sound obvious but often requires more thought and analysis. Identifying a problem can be a difficult task in itself. Is there a problem at all? What is the nature of the problem, are there in fact numerous problems? How can the problem be best defined? By spending some time defining the problem you will not only understand it more clearly yourself but be able to communicate its nature to others, which leads to the second phase.

Structuring the Problem:

This stage involves: a period of observation, careful inspection, fact-finding and developing a clear picture of the problem.

Following on from problem identification, structuring the problem is all about gaining more information about the problem and increasing understanding. This phase is all about fact finding and analysis, building a more comprehensive picture of both the goal(s) and the barrier(s). This stage may not be necessary for very simple problems but is essential for problems of a more complex nature.

Looking for Possible Solutions:

During this stage you will generate a range of possible courses of action, but with little attempt to evaluate them at this stage.

From the information gathered in the first two phases of the problem solving framework it is now time to start thinking about possible solutions to the identified problem. In a group situation this stage is often carried out as a brain-storming session, letting each person in the group express their views on possible solutions (or part solutions). In organisations different people will have different expertise in different areas and it is useful, therefore, to hear the views of each concerned party.

Making a Decision:

This stage involves careful analysis of the different possible courses of action and then selecting the best solution for implementation.

This is perhaps the most complex part of the problem solving process. Following on from the previous step it is now time to look at each potential solution and carefully analyse it. Some solutions may not be possible, due to other problems like time constraints or budgets. It is important at this stage to also consider what might happen if nothing was done to solve the problem - sometimes trying to solve a problem that leads to many more problems requires some very creative thinking and innovative ideas.

Finally, make a decision on which course of action to take - decision making is an important skill in itself and we recommend that you see our pages on decision making .

Implementation:

This stage involves accepting and carrying out the chosen course of action.

Implementation means acting on the chosen solution. During implementation more problems may arise especially if identification or structuring of the original problem was not carried out fully.

Monitoring/Seeking Feedback:

The last stage is about reviewing the outcomes of problem solving over a period of time, including seeking feedback as to the success of the outcomes of the chosen solution.

The final stage of problem solving is concerned with checking that the process was successful. This can be achieved by monitoring and gaining feedback from people affected by any changes that occurred. It is good practice to keep a record of outcomes and any additional problems that occurred.

Continue to: Identifying and Structuring Problems Social Problem Solving

See also: Project Management Risk Management Effective Decision Making

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  • Career Planning
  • Skills Development

What Are Problem-Solving Skills?

Definition & Examples of Problem-Solving Skills

excellent solving problems skills

  • Problem-solving skills help you determine why an issue is happening and how to resolve that issue.

Learn more about problem-solving skills and how they work.

Problem-solving skills help you solve issues quickly and effectively. It's one of the  key skills that employers  seek in job applicants, as employees with these skills tend to be self-reliant. Problem-solving skills require quickly identifying the underlying issue and implementing a solution.

Problem-solving is considered a  soft skill  (a personal strength) rather than a hard skill that's learned through education or training. You can improve your problem-solving skills by familiarizing yourself with common issues in your industry and learning from more experienced employees.

How Problem-Solving Skills Work

Problem-solving starts with identifying the issue. For example, a teacher might need to figure out how to improve student performance on a writing proficiency test. To do that, the teacher will review the writing tests looking for areas of improvement. They might see that students can construct simple sentences, but they're struggling with writing paragraphs and organizing those paragraphs into an essay.

To solve the problem, the teacher would work with students on how and when to write compound sentences, how to write paragraphs, and ways to organize an essay.

Theresa Chiechi / The Balance

There are five steps typically used in problem-solving.

1. Analyze Contributing Factors

To solve a problem, you must find out what caused it. This requires you to gather and evaluate data, isolate possible contributing circumstances, and pinpoint what needs to be addressed for a resolution.

To do this, you'll use skills like :

  • Data gathering
  • Data analysis
  • Fact-finding
  • Historical analysis

2. Generate Interventions

Once you’ve determined the cause, brainstorm possible solutions. Sometimes this involves teamwork since two (or more) minds are often better than one. A single strategy is rarely the obvious route to solving a complex problem; devising a set of alternatives helps you cover your bases and reduces your risk of exposure should the first strategy you implement fail.

This involves skills like :

  • Brainstorming
  • Creative thinking
  • Forecasting
  • Project design
  • Project planning

3. Evaluate Solutions

Depending on the nature of the problem and your chain of command, evaluating best solutions may be performed by assigned teams, team leads, or forwarded to corporate decision-makers. Whoever makes the decision must evaluate potential costs, required resources, and possible barriers to successful solution implementation.

This requires several skills, including:

  • Corroboration
  • Test development
  • Prioritizing

4. Implement a Plan

Once a course of action has been decided, it must be implemented along with benchmarks that can quickly and accurately determine whether it’s working. Plan implementation also involves letting personnel know about changes in standard operating procedures.

This requires skills like:

  • Project management
  • Project implementation
  • Collaboration
  • Time management
  • Benchmark development

5. Assess the Solution's Effectiveness

Once a solution is implemented, the best problem-solvers have systems in place to evaluate if and how quickly it's working. This way, they know as soon as possible whether the issue has been resolved or whether they’ll have to change their response to the problem mid-stream.

This requires:

  • Communication
  • Customer feedback
  • Follow-through
  • Troubleshooting

Here's an example of showing your problem-solving skills in a cover letter.

When I was first hired as a paralegal, I inherited a backlog of 25 sets of medical records that needed to be summarized, each of which was hundreds of pages long. At the same time, I had to help prepare for three major cases, and there weren’t enough hours in the day. After I explained the problem to my supervisor, she agreed to pay me to come in on Saturday mornings to focus on the backlog. I was able to eliminate the backlog in a month.

Here's another example of how to show your problem-solving skills in a cover letter:

When I joined the team at Great Graphics as Artistic Director, the designers had become uninspired because of a former director who attempted to micro-manage every step in the design process. I used weekly round-table discussions to solicit creative input and ensured that each designer was given full autonomy to do their best work. I also introduced monthly team-based competitions that helped build morale, spark new ideas, and improve collaboration.

Highlighting Problem-Solving Skills

  • Since this is a skill that's important to most employers, put them front and center on your resume, cover letter, and in interviews.

If you're not sure what to include, look to previous roles—whether in academic, work, or volunteer settings—for examples of challenges you met and problems you solved. Highlight relevant examples in your  cover letter and use bullet points in your resume to show how you solved a problem.

During interviews, be ready to describe situations you've encountered in previous roles, the processes you followed to address problems, the skills you applied, and the results of your actions. Potential employers are eager to hear a  coherent narrative of the ways you've used problem-solving skills .

Interviewers may pose hypothetical problems for you to solve. Base your answers on the five steps and refer to similar problems you've resolved, if possible. Here are tips for answering problem-solving interview questions , with examples of the best answers.

Key Takeaways

  • It's one of the key skills that employers seek in job applicants.
  • Problem-solving starts with identifying the issue, coming up with solutions, implementing those solutions, and evaluating their effectiveness. 

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Best Problem-Solving Skills for a Resume. How to List Them

When it comes to landing your dream job, problem-solving skills are highly valued by employers across a variety of industries. These skills demonstrate your ability to think critically, analyze situations, and develop effective solutions to complex problems. Including your problem-solving skills on your resume can help you stand out to potential employers and showcase your ability to handle challenges in the workplace.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best problem-solving skills to include on your resume and provide tips on how to list them effectively to increase your chances of landing your desired job.

Best Problem-Solving Skills for a Resume. How to List Them

Table of Contents

What Are Problem-Solving Skills?

Problem-solving skills refer to the ability to analyze situations, identify problems, and develop effective solutions to complex issues. It involves critical thinking, creativity, and the ability to make informed decisions based on available information.

Effective problem-solving skills are essential for success in any career. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers , problem-solving skills are ranked among the top three most important skills that employers look for in job candidates.

Furthermore, a study by the World Economic Forum found that problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity are projected to be the top three skills required for the workforce by 2025.

Top 10 Skills for 2023

Source: World Economic Forum

Top 10 Problem Solving Skills for Your Resume + Examples

Here are the top 10 problem-solving skills to include on a resume:

2. Critical thinking

The ability to objectively analyze information to make informed decisions and solve complex problems.

“Applied critical thinking skills to analyze complex business problems and develop effective solutions.”
“Evaluated financial data to identify inefficiencies and developed cost-saving measures that reduced expenses by 15%.”
“Conducted in-depth research to identify market trends and forecasted future demand for products, resulting in a 10% increase in sales revenue.”
“Developed and implemented risk management strategies to minimize potential losses and ensure business continuity.”
“Used critical thinking skills to develop innovative ideas and streamline processes, resulting in improved efficiency and productivity.”

3. Creativity

The ability to think outside the box and develop innovative solutions to problems.

“Developed creative solutions to complex business problems by thinking outside the box and leveraging my creative problem-solving skills.”
“Designed and implemented a new product packaging concept that led to a 25% increase in sales within the first six months.”
“Developed and executed a social media marketing campaign that went viral and resulted in a 50% increase in brand awareness.”
“Developed an innovative employee incentive program that resulted in a 30% reduction in employee turnover rates.”
“Continuously generated new ideas and innovative solutions to streamline processes and improve efficiency across multiple departments.”

4. Decision-making

The ability to make informed decisions based on available information and data.

“Exercised strong decision-making skills to evaluate complex information and make informed decisions.”
“Analyzed data from multiple sources to identify trends, opportunities and potential risks.”
“Developed and implemented effective risk management strategies to minimize potential losses and ensure business continuity.”
“Successfully negotiated contracts with vendors to achieve cost savings of 20%.”
“Made strategic decisions that resulted in a 15% increase in sales revenue within the first year of employment.”
“Continuously evaluated the effectiveness of decisions and made necessary adjustments to improve outcomes.”

5. Strategic thinking and ideation

The ability to think long-term and develop plans to achieve goals and overcome challenges.

“Applied strong strategic thinking skills to develop and implement long-term business plans that aligned with organizational goals.”
“Analyzed market trends and customer behavior to identify new opportunities and create competitive advantages.”
“Developed and executed a product development strategy that resulted in a 30% increase in market share within the first year.”
“Led cross-functional teams to implement new processes and systems that improved efficiency and reduced costs by 25%.”
“Continuously evaluated the competitive landscape and adjusted strategies to stay ahead of industry trends.”

6. Problem identification

The ability to identify potential problems before they arise and take preventive measures to address them.

“Used strong problem identification skills to identify and diagnose complex business issues.”
“Conducted root cause analysis to identify underlying problems and develop effective solutions.”
“Developed and implemented a new quality control system that reduced product defects by 20%.”
“Conducted internal audits to identify process inefficiencies and implemented process improvements that resulted in a 30% reduction in lead time.”
“Continuously monitored business operations to identify potential issues and proactively developed contingency plans to mitigate risks.”

7. Adaptability

The ability to quickly adjust and change course when faced with unexpected challenges.

“Applied strong adaptability skills to thrive in fast-paced and dynamic work environments.”
“Demonstrated the ability to quickly learn new processes and procedures and adapt to changing priorities.”
“Successfully managed multiple projects simultaneously, adjusting project plans as needed to meet changing requirements.”
“Collaborated with cross-functional teams to develop new products and services that met evolving customer needs.”
“Successfully navigated a company-wide restructuring by taking on new responsibilities and adapting to a new organizational structure.”
“Proactively sought out feedback from managers and colleagues to continuously improve performance and adapt to changing expectations.”

8. Communication

The ability to effectively communicate with colleagues, stakeholders and customers to understand their needs and develop solutions.

“Used strong communication skills to effectively collaborate with cross-functional teams and solve complex problems.”
“Facilitated open and transparent communication among team members to ensure everyone was aligned and working towards a common goal.”
“Successfully led cross-functional projects by effectively communicating project plans, goals, and timelines to all stakeholders.”
“Developed and delivered engaging presentations to communicate complex data and project results to senior leadership.”
“Collaborated with customers to understand their needs and effectively communicated those needs to the product development team, resulting in a 15% increase in customer satisfaction ratings.”

9. Collaboration

The ability to work effectively in a team and collaborate with others to achieve common goals.

“Collaborated effectively with cross-functional teams to achieve project goals and solve complex problems.”
“Demonstrated strong interpersonal skills by building positive relationships with team members and stakeholders.”
“Proactively identified and resolved conflicts to ensure smooth collaboration and successful project outcomes.”
“Actively participated in team meetings and contributed to brainstorming and ideation sessions to generate creative solutions.”
“Successfully led cross-functional teams by delegating tasks and responsibilities and ensuring alignment among team members.”
“Developed and implemented new team-building activities that increased team morale and improved collaboration.”

10. Time management

The ability to prioritize tasks, manage deadlines and work efficiently to achieve objectives.

“Managed multiple projects simultaneously, consistently meeting project deadlines and ensuring high-quality deliverables.”
“Developed and implemented effective time management strategies, including prioritization and task delegation, to increase productivity and efficiency.”
“Proactively identified potential roadblocks and adjusted project plans as needed to stay on track.”
“Utilized project management software to track progress and communicate project status to stakeholders.”
“Successfully managed a team of interns, delegating tasks and providing guidance to ensure timely and accurate completion of projects.”
“Received recognition from management for consistently delivering projects ahead of schedule and under budget.”

Including these problem-solving skills on your resume can demonstrate to potential employers that you are a strategic thinker, a creative problem solver, and a valuable asset to any team.

Jobs That Require Problem-Solving Skills

There are many jobs that require problem-solving skills. Here are some examples:

Engineers: Engineers are responsible for designing, building, and testing products, systems, and structures. They often encounter complex problems that require creative problem-solving skills to solve.

IT professionals: IT professionals are responsible for managing and troubleshooting computer systems and networks. They must be able to identify and solve technical issues quickly and effectively.

Healthcare professionals: Healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses, must use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to diagnose and treat patients.

Lawyers: Lawyers must analyze complex legal issues and develop creative solutions to help their clients achieve their goals.

Business professionals: Business professionals, such as managers and executives, must be able to analyze data, identify problems, and develop strategies to solve them.

Educators: Educators must be able to identify and address the individual needs of their students and develop creative solutions to help them succeed.

Scientists: Scientists must use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to design experiments, analyze data, and develop new theories and technologies.

Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurs must be able to identify opportunities and solve problems in order to start and grow successful businesses.

Overall, problem-solving skills are essential in a wide range of professions and industries, and are highly valued by employers.

Problem-Solving Skills Resume Example

Here is an example of a resume that demonstrates your ability to resolve difficult situations.

Name: John Doe Contact Information: Email: [email protected] Phone: (123) 456-7890 LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/johndoe Summary: Highly analytical and creative problem-solver with a strong track record of developing and implementing effective solutions. Skilled in collaborating with cross-functional teams and adapting to changing environments. Skills: – Problem identification and analysis – Creative thinking and innovation – Strategic planning and execution – Collaboration and teamwork – Strong communication skills – Time management and prioritization Experience : ABC Company Position: Project Manager Duration: Jan 2019 – Present Responsibilities: – Led cross-functional teams in the development and execution of strategic initiatives – Identified and analyzed potential project risks, and developed contingency plans to mitigate them – Streamlined project management processes, resulting in a 20% increase in efficiency – Developed innovative solutions to complex problems, resulting in a 15% increase in customer satisfaction – Collaborated with stakeholders to develop and implement new product features, resulting in a 10% increase in revenue XYZ Company Position: Business Analyst Duration: Mar 2016 – Dec 2018 Responsibilities: – Conducted data analysis and identified opportunities for process improvement – Developed and executed action plans to address identified issues, resulting in a 25% increase in productivity – Collaborated with cross-functional teams to develop new product features, resulting in a 10% increase in customer retention – Analyzed customer feedback and developed strategies to improve customer experience, resulting in a 20% increase in customer satisfaction Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, XYZ University, Graduated in May 2016 Certifications: Project Management Professional (PMP) Six Sigma Green Belt

How Can I Improve My Problem Solving Skills?

To improve your problem-solving skills, start by breaking down complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts. Practice analyzing and identifying the root cause of a problem, brainstorming multiple potential solutions, and evaluating the pros and cons of each option.

Additionally, seek out opportunities to work on collaborative problem-solving projects and seek feedback from others on your approach to dealing with issues. Continuously challenging yourself to solve new problems and refining your problem-solving process can help you improve your skills over time.

Should I Include Hard Skills or Soft Skills as Problem-Solving Skills?

Both hard and soft skills are important for problem-solving . Hard skills such as data analysis and computer programming are critical for identifying and analyzing problems, while soft skills such as communication and collaboration are important for developing and implementing solutions. It’s best to include a mix of both hard and soft skills as problem-solving skills on your resume, to demonstrate your ability to approach problems from different angles and work effectively with others to achieve positive results.

Why Do Employers Value Problem-Solving Skills?

Employers value problem-solving skills because they are critical for driving business success. Individuals who possess strong problem-solving skills can identify and analyze problems, develop and implement effective solutions, and collaborate with others to achieve positive results.

These skills can lead to increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction, and a better overall business performance.

Additionally, problem-solving skills are essential for innovation and growth, allowing companies to adapt to changes in the market and stay ahead of the competition. Employers look for candidates with strong problem-solving skills because they want employees who can contribute to the company’s success and help drive future growth.

What Other Skills Do Employers Look for?

In addition to problem-solving skills, employers also value a range of other skills including communication, teamwork, adaptability, leadership, time management, and technical expertise in specific fields. These skills can help employees work effectively with others, manage projects and resources efficiently, and stay up to date with industry trends and best practices. By highlighting a combination of problem-solving and other key skills on your resume, you can demonstrate your ability to contribute to a company’s success and add value in the workplace.

Build a strong skill base for your resume: Resume Skills – Complete Career Hub 2023

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excellent solving problems skills

7 Best Problem-Solving Skills: Examples & How To Develop Them

Problem Solving Skills What Are They Definition & Examples

Problem-solving skills are valuable soft skills to have in today’s increasingly competitive and fast-changing workplace. In the workplace, problem-solving skills are about one’s capacity to deal with tough or unexpected challenges and situations.

They are also essential in other aspects of our lives, such as building relationships and making decisions. Individuals who can properly assess the situations and offer solutions are in high demand in organizations. And problem-solving skills are abilities that allow you to do so.

In this article, we will discuss what are key problem-solving skills and the skills related to problem-solving. You will also learn about how to conduct a problem-solving process when you encounter a problem. We will share with you the benefits and importance of key problem-solving skills and how to improve these skills.

What Are Problem-Solving Skills?

Problem-solving is a soft skill (a personal strength), not a hard skill learned from school or specialized training. Problem-solving skills assist you in resolving challenges swiftly and effectively.

It gives you a keen eye to spot underlying problems and put a solution in place. Problem-solving skills are crucial in every profession and at every level. As a result, technical expertise relevant to the sector or role may be required for effective problem-solving.

Problem-solving skills can be improved by familiarizing yourself with common organizational challenges and learning from more experienced employees. Although problem-solving is usually thought of as an independent skill, it depends on a combination of other skills (we will come to this in the next section).

Why is Problem-Solving Skill Important in the Workplace?

Having problem-solving skills enables you to be prepared to manage any problems that your employers throw at you. You can analyze, evaluate, and act promptly when issues arise.

Furthermore, you are not frightened of the uncertainty because you are confident that you can handle anything that comes your way. Strong problem-solving skills are valuable to organizations that depend on their employees to identify and solve problems.

10 benefits of having problem-solving skills

  • Ability to manage their time effectively.
  • Ability to prioritize, plan and carry out plans.
  • Ability to think out of the box and identify opportunities in problems.
  • Ability to work under pressure and deal with stress.
  • Ability to evaluate and take calculated risks.
  • Ability to continuously improve performance and implement new improvements when necessary.
  • Ability to identify and seize opportunities in an ever-changing environment.
  • Recognized and appreciated by the people around them.
  • Increased confidence in one’s ability to deal with anything that comes their way.
  • Ability to make the impossible possible by synergizing their knowledge with systematic problem-solving approaches.

7 Best Problem-Solving Skills

You will adopt a combination of different examples of skills to address a problem effectively.

Here is a list of skills you can leverage to solve a problem:

Research Skills

Problem-solving requires the use of research skills. As a problem solver, you must define the root cause of the issues before addressing them.

You can start by gathering deeper and related information about the topic. To do that, you can discuss with your team members, speak with senior colleagues, conduct online research, or learn from online classes.

Analysis Skills

Analyzing the situation is the first step in addressing any problem. Strong analytical skills allow you to grasp the issues quickly and develop effective strategies. You will also utilize analytical skills when researching to discern between good and poor ideas.

Decision-making Skills

Problem-solving and decision-making are distinct but interrelated skills. Decision-making is a crucial element of the problem-solving process because you will be presented with many choices and possibilities.

Sometimes you can make a quick decision if you happen to have related industry experience. Having strong research and analytical skills may be beneficial to those with less experience or industry knowledge.

There may be instances when it is necessary to set aside time to develop a solution for a challenging problem. Alternatively, you may decide to refer the situation to someone who is in a better position to tackle the issue.

Communication Skills

Strong communication skills are necessary when you are solving a problem. You will need to know how to explain the problem clearly to others and seek their input.

You will also need to know who to approach or which communication channels to use when asking for help. To eliminate uncertainty and make implementation easier, you will need to present and explain the solution to others.

Listening Skills

In general, active listeners are excellent problem solvers. They will listen to others to get the knowledge that will help them address the challenge at hand.

They value and appreciate other people’s perspectives and experiences. This way, they can understand why an issue happened and devise the best course of action to resolve it.

In most cases, problems are solved either spontaneously or methodically. You tend to use your intuition to solve a problem when no new information is required. You either know what you need to know to make a snap decision, or you use common sense or experience to solve them.

You will need to use a more structured approach to solve more complicated problems or issues that you’ve not encountered before. For such problems, you may also need to tap into your creative thinking.

Risk Management

Problem-solving happens when problems arise or when things do not go as planned, and we need to rectify them. During your initial planning stage, you will carry out risk management to weigh the benefits and risks of your solutions.

This way, you can prevent potential hazards or risks from happening the moment you implement the solution.

How Problem-Solving Skills Work?

1. analyze the factors contributing to the problem.

This step entails identifying the presence of a problem, determining its nature, and articulating the problem. The first phase of problem-solving requires further research and investigation. It involves collecting and analyzing data, isolating potential contributing factors, and determining what has to be addressed for a solution.

What is the nature of the problem? Is there more than one problem? What is the best way to define the problem? Spending time identifying the problem will allow you to not only comprehend it better but also articulate the thought process to others.

2. Generate possible solutions

At this stage, you will start developing several possible solutions. But, you will not spend too much time examining them. Usually, a single approach is rarely the clear way to solve a complicated problem.

Generating a variety of alternatives will help you to protect your interests and decrease your likelihood of failing. You can start brainstorming for solutions in a group setting with your team members.

Such sessions provide each team member with a chance to express their thoughts on potential solutions or ideas. An organization has a diverse group of employees who have different skills in different areas. Thus it is essential to hear the perspectives of all parties involved before deciding on the potential interventions.

3. Evaluate solutions and make decisions

This step is possibly the most difficult aspect of the problem-solving process. This stage comprises conducting a detailed analysis of the many alternative options you brainstormed earlier. Then, you will decide on the most effective solution for execution.

Some alternatives may be difficult to implement because of issues such as time limits or money restrictions. It is critical to evaluate what may happen if nothing is done to remedy the situation.

Sometimes when you are trying to resolve a problem, it could potentially lead to a slew of other issues. Finally, decide on the best solution or approach to take to resolve the problem. When deciding, you must consider the potential expenses, hurdles, and necessary resources for effective solution implementation.

4. Implement a plan

This step involves embracing and executing the decision made in the previous stage. Implementation refers to putting the chosen solution into action. During this stage, more difficulties may arise, particularly if the initial problem identification or structure was not completed thoroughly.

Hence, the plan must be executed with benchmarks that can accurately inform you if it is working or not. Implementing a plan includes communicating to your employees about changes in standard operating procedures.

5. Assess the solution’s effectiveness

The last stage involves evaluating the results after implementing the solution. It includes soliciting feedback from related parties on the effectiveness of the solution in solving the problem.

Once a solution is put in place, you need to have procedures to determine if and how the solution is working. This way, you will know immediately if the problem has been fixed or whether an adjustment is needed.

You should record the feedback, results, and new challenges that you encountered through this entire problem-solving process. It is recommended that you make this step a habit of yours to improve your problem-solving skills.

How to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills in the Workplace?

There are various techniques you could consider to develop your problem-solving skills. Whether you are looking for work or already have one, strengthening your problem-solving skills and related competencies can help you stand out among the rest of the group.

Here are a few methods you can consider to improve your problem-solving skills:

Strengthen your specialist knowledge in your industry

Depending on your profession, having deep specialist knowledge may make it easier for you to address problems. Attending an external course, workshop, mentorship, or practicing your skills can help you gain deeper technical knowledge.

Constantly look for opportunities to solve problems

You can increase your chances of bumping into new opportunities to solve problems by going out of your comfort zone. Start by seeking new opportunities around you. You can volunteer for a new project or task, be it in your existing team, on another team, or on an external group within your field.

Practice! Practice! Practice!

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Practicing or performing role-playing will help to strengthen your problem-solving skills. You can search online or go to your local bookshop to look for practice books on problem-solving scenarios.

Through role-playing, you can experiment with different ways to tackle the challenges and see whether your solutions are practical. Practicing how you can solve the common problems prevalent in your field might help you find answers when such problems arise in your job.

How to Improve Your Problem-solving Skills in the Workplace

Watch and learn how others overcome problems

There are people around you who are excellent problem solvers. These people could be your close friends or colleagues in the workplace. You may improve your problem-solving skills by observing how they develop effective solutions to problems.

You can ask a more experienced colleague and ask if you can shadow them when they are doing problem-solving. Be curious and ask questions that could be useful when you do problem-solving in the future.

How To Highlight Problem-Solving Skills in a Resume?

As problem-solving skills are essential to many organizations, you can put this skill at the top of your resume. You can indicate this skill on your resume in various sections, such as “skills” and “achievements” sections.

You can also highlight it in your “experience” section, but remember to provide specific examples of problems you solved. Instead of writing down the word “problem-solving” in the “skills” section, you may want to mention specific skills you have.

It could be your job-specific technical skills or soft skills related to problem-solving, such as analytical skills, communication skills, etc. Storytelling is powerful. During interview questions, you can highlight specific examples of obstacles you faced and how you solved the problems.

The problems you solved may come from your prior roles – whether academic, work, or volunteer. Be prepared to discuss the issues you faced, the methods or skills you used to tackle the problems, and the results you achieved.

Problem-Solving Skills FAQ

How do you describe problem-solving skills.

Problem-solving is a soft skill (a personal strength), not a hard skill learned from school or specialized training. Problem-solving skills assist you in resolving challenges swiftly and effectively. It gives you a keen eye to spot underlying problems and put a solution in place quickly.

What are the three key attributes of a good problem solver?

A good problem solver has strong analytical skills to understand problems quickly and discern between good and poor ideas. They also have strong communication skills to explain the issues and present solutions clearly to others. They also have high emotional intelligence.

What is problem-solving behavior?

Problem-solving behavior refers to a person’s ability to analyze and think critically to solve problems. They can decide which best course of action to take after conducting a thorough risk analysis of all the available solutions. They can implement solutions to resolve any challenges or difficulties they encounter in their life, work, or relationships.

What are Problem-Solving Skills for Students?

Be curious and put on your investigative hat

Being curious and conducting an in-depth investigation will assist you in finding out the root cause of an issue. When the root cause of a problem is identified, it becomes much easier to address it.

Be open to feedback and suggestions from others

Seeking constructive feedback or suggestions from others is beneficial to the students in the long run. It saves students time, and they can avoid making the mistakes made by others. They will also be able to finetune their solutions to make them more effective. Being open to feedback is also an essential component of problem-solving skills.

Troubleshooting skills

Troubleshooting skills help students to address issues quickly and effectively without any delay. This skill helps students to analyze the problem, develop various solutions, evaluate and choose the best option, and implement the preferred solution.

What are Problem-Solving Skills for Kids?

Growth mindset

Reflecting on the process of solving a problem helps children to build a growth mindset. We should instill a mindset in children that getting a “wrong” answer is not wrong.

It is through these mistakes that we can learn and improve ourselves. What matters most is to encourage children to reflect on the steps they took and how they might handle the problem differently next time.

Emotional intelligence

Children need to be taught that every emotion (positive and negative) that they are experiencing is acceptable. Having high emotional intelligence will help the kids to learn and think differently when faced with problems.

Grappling refers to whatever the kids will do when presented with a problem that lacks a clear answer. They will try to solve the problem first and not think about failing. Even if they fail, they will continue to persevere to find a solution to the problem.

They will think critically, ask questions, and form hypotheses to have a comprehensive understanding of the problem that they encounter. Then, they will use every information and resource that they acquired to find a solution to the problem.

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How to improve your creative skills for effective problem-solving

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What’s creative thinking?

Creative thinking versus critical thinking

Creative thinking skills

How to develop creative thinking skills

4 creative thinking examples to include on your resume

Sharpen your creativity

Creative thinking is the key to unlocking innovation and problem-solving excellence. 

In the whirlwind of everyday professional challenges, we’ve all encountered moments when fresh ideas feel elusive. If you’ve found yourself struggling to inspire your team or spinning out during a brainstorming session , it may be a sign you need to develop your creative skills. Plus, creative problem solving looks excellent on a resume .

As a leader or team member, your ability to think outside the box can ignite a spark of ingenuity that propels your team to new heights. Fan the flames of growth and learn how to improve your creative thinking (and highlight your new skills in your next job application).

What’s creative thinking? 

Creative thinking is the dynamic process of transforming your ideas into actions. The skillset equips you to think differently and approach challenges from innovative angles.

At its core, creative thinking empowers you to break free from the constraints of the status quo and dream up fresh, original ideas. It breathes life into your decisions, encouraging you to embrace your imaginative instincts. 

By daring to challenge traditional approaches, your creativity opens doors to uncharted innovations and groundbreaking solutions.

Creative thinking versus critical thinking 

Although creative and critical thinking are both used in problem-solving , the two skills are marked by key differences. 

Creative thinking is the catalyst for generating innovative ideas and crafting novel approaches to the challenges around them. With an open mind and a wild imagination, creative thinkers produce and explore unconventional solutions to the problems that stand in their way.

Critical thinking analyzes available information with an unbiased and rational approach. It involves questioning perceptions, ensuring that decisions are devoid of bias and reasoning remains grounded in sound judgment. 

Creative thinking skills 

When you look at creative thinking as a set of particular abilities, it becomes easier to develop and perfect. These creative skill examples can help you thrive inside and outside of the workplace:

1. Open-mindedness

When you’re open-minded, you can readily adapt to new information and look for fresh problem-solving approaches. You’re receptive to the opinions and ideas of others because you view them as constructive rather than criticizing . This openness also encourages you to freely share your creative ideas without fearing judgement.

2. Curiosity

You might find that you tap into creative potential the most when you’re challenging convention and posing new ways of thinking. Analyzing processes and asking yourself how you can improve them is an exciting way to make more efficient systems.

Whether you’re new to a job or have worked at the company for years, you may wonder why procedures are what they are — lean into this curiosity to develop new and better ways to work. 

architect-woman-drawing-sketch-creative-skills

3. Ability to brainstorm

There are numerous ways to solve a problem, and brainstorming helps to get them onto paper so you can weigh their pros and cons. This way of lateral thinking encourages you to view solutions as multifaceted rather than a single, straightforward answer.

4. Experimentation

Creative people experiment with various ways of solving a problem before deciding on the best way to take action. Emulate this mindset in your projects and tasks. For instance, if you work in web design, you might try several page layouts before deciding on a final visual identity for your client.

5. Networking

Speaking with people from different professional backgrounds is an excellent way to stimulate creative thinking and develop new perspectives. When you network with professionals with diverse skill sets and experiences, they might influence you to look at the world differently or suggest an innovative way to tackle a problem.

6. Observation

It’s important to know when to take the backseat and listen in. Observing how others tackle complex issues might inspire you to make changes within your team. Always keep an eye out for opportunities to learn from more experienced peers and innovative colleagues.

7. Organization

Although some individuals claim to thrive in clutter, keeping your work organized creates an environment where you can work freely without distraction. This involves keeping your workspace tidy, creating clear to-do lists, and using visual maps to express your plans and processes.

8. Communication

Proper communication empowers you to share valuable insight and ideas with your teammates. You need strong verbal and written skills to pitch and describe your thoughts and actively listen to others’ feedback and advice.

coworkers-walking-through-office-hallway-discussing-project-creative-skills

9. Analysis

Before you can dream up a creative approach to an obstacle, you must fully understand the problem at hand. Without proper analysis, your solution may contain flaws, or you could miss important details of your problem. Practice sifting through every detail of the issue and pinpointing the causes. 

10. Problem-solving

No matter your industry, problem-solving is always a valuable skill. Consider how to tackle a problem without asking the advice of others to see what creative solutions arise. This way, you can see what inventive ideas you can come up with before external opinions influence you.

Although some of your coworkers may seem to have a natural talent for creativity and creative thinking, it’s a skill anyone can develop and improve. Here are seven ways to advance your innovative problem-solving:

Reading is an effective way to exercise your mind, increase your vocabulary, and expose yourself to new ways of thinking. Whether your book is on a problem you’re facing at work or a new and exciting subject, reading is an excellent opportunity to learn. That’s right: simply cracking open a book can help you grow . 

Keep a notepad nearby and write down thoughts and ideas as they arise. Writing helps you to process information, and you can revisit your musing whenever you need to get your creative juices flowing. If you’ve never tried journaling before, it’s an excellent way to process your thoughts and feelings in a safe and private space. 

3. Exercise

Exercising improves your sleep and ability to cope with stress, making it easier to stay alert and contribute fresh ideas at work. 

couple-stretching-before-working-out-outdoors-creative-skills

4. Listen to music

Music can affect your mood and place you in the mindset to solve problems. If you’re struggling with creative writing or creating a visual piece of work, listening to music could push you toward expressing yourself more meaningfully. 

5. Ask for feedback

Collaboration and teamwork are key when developing creative solutions in the workplace. You can ask teammates or superiors for feedback on your ideas to gain insight into potential flaws in your reasoning and streamline your solutions.

6. Find a mentor or coach

Having an experienced person to bounce ideas off is a catalyst for creativity. A mentor or coach who’s dealt with similar obstacles can provide insight into what worked and what didn’t, saving you valuable brainstorming time. 

7. Change your approach

If you’ve been approaching your tasks the same way, adjusting your processes may bring a fresh perspective and stimulate change. Ask yourself why you tackle work from a similar angle each time and consider more creative ways to conduct your day-to-day operations.

colleagues-looking-at-someones-laptop-with-curiosity-creative-skills

4 creative thinking examples to include on your resume 

Employers want to add creative people to their teams because solving problems takes a lot of ingenuity. Use these four examples and bullet points for inspiration when listing creative thinking skills on your resume.

On a graphic designer’s resume:

  • Collaborated on rebranding [company’s] visual identity and social media content strategy
  • Developed unique and innovative branding material for [company A] , [company B] , and [company C]

On a copywriter’s resume:

  • Revised [company’s] website and blog content to be more engaging, exciting, and SEO-focused
  • Contributed original and innovative articles on [topic] to [publication A] and [publication B]

On a public relations specialist’s resume:

  • Increased [company’s] brand awareness by planning [event] to launch [product]
  • Collaborated with [brand] on [product’s] creative marketing strategy to reach a wider audience

On a teacher’s resume:

  • Developed a novel approach to teaching [subject or class] to students with various learning styles and needs
  • Introduced [extracurricular] , the first of its kind in [the school board] , to engage students in [activity]

Sharpen your creativity 

Critical and creative thinking broaden your perspective and allow you to devise unique solutions to everyday problems. You can develop your creative skills by changing your environment, learning from others, and adjusting your approach to work. 

Regardless of how you choose to spark creativity at work, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and confidently contribute your ideas. You never know — you might just come up with the next big company innovation.

Cultivate your creativity

Foster creativity and continuous learning with guidance from our certified Coaches.

Elizabeth Perry, ACC

Elizabeth Perry is a Coach Community Manager at BetterUp. She uses strategic engagement strategies to cultivate a learning community across a global network of Coaches through in-person and virtual experiences, technology-enabled platforms, and strategic coaching industry partnerships. With over 3 years of coaching experience and a certification in transformative leadership and life coaching from Sofia University, Elizabeth leverages transpersonal psychology expertise to help coaches and clients gain awareness of their behavioral and thought patterns, discover their purpose and passions, and elevate their potential. She is a lifelong student of psychology, personal growth, and human potential as well as an ICF-certified ACC transpersonal life and leadership Coach.

How to develop critical thinking skills

6 ways to leverage ai for hyper-personalized corporate learning, self directed learning is the key to new skills and knowledge, the power of professional learning communities, why asynchronous learning is the key to successful upskilling, why creativity isn't just for creatives and how to find it anywhere, can dreams help you solve problems 6 ways to try, experimentation brings innovation: create an experimental workplace, 8 creative solutions to your most challenging problems, similar articles, 10 problem-solving strategies to turn challenges on their head, thinking outside the box: 8 ways to become a creative problem solver, what is creative thinking and why does it matter, what are professional skills, and which should you add to your resume, the pomodoro technique: how a break can improve productivity and well-being, professional leadership skills to incorporate on your resume, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..

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6 Problem Solving Skills That All Leaders Should Work On

  • Anouare Abdou
  • January 3, 2023

Chances are, if you are a leader, you are also a pretty good problem-solver . You have come this far because you are proactive about finding solutions. You know how to think critically, strategize and execute. You foster collaboration in your team and make the most of the strengths of each team member. You lean on your communication skills to overcome challenges. 

If you want to take your ability to solve complex problems to the next level, however, you’ll need to actively work on the specific problem-solving skills that differentiate great leaders from excellent ones. 

“More than ever, leaders are facing highly complex, challenging situations that don’t have simple solutions. These include the intersection of employee mental health, diversity and equity expectations, supply chain issues, societal crises, and more,” according to Dr. Mira Brancu , award-winning leader, author, and consulting psychologist. “Employees and customers are expecting more from companies, and therefore the leaders that are needed today are those who have more than just technical expertise in their field – they also have the ability to solve complex problems.” 

On that note, here are six problem-solving skills that all leaders should work on these days. 

1. Calculating the critical path 

Every leader should know how to calculate the critical path in a project, according to Christina Wallace , senior lecturer of Entrepreneurial Management at Harvard Business School, angel investor, and author of “The Portfolio Life: How to Future-Proof Your Career, Avoid Burnout, and Build A Life Bigger Than Your Business Card .” 

Wondering what that even means? In project management, the critical path is the longest sequence of activities that must be completed to ensure a project is finished. Every project has a set of tasks and sub-tasks. Some of them can happen concurrently, while others need to happen in a certain sequence. Identifying all those activities and the dependencies between them allows you to calculate the critical path that leads to the project end date – in simple words, it lets you forecast how long it will take to wrap up your project while anticipating bottlenecks. 

“If you’ve ever been stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic while three lanes winnow down to one, you are familiar with the idea of a bottleneck and its frustrations. It’s the moment when too many things (cars, deadlines) are demanding the same resources at once (roadway, time on your calendar), creating congestion in the system,” says Wallace. Calculating the critical path helps prevent bottlenecks before they happen. Use a Gantt chart , a graphic that displays activities against time, to visualize the critical path of a project – most project-management platforms offer the option to create one. “Visualizing the bottlenecks gives you the opportunity to move things around, add in buffers or simplify processes to ensure your plan is not only feasible but also realistic,” adds Wallace 

2. Sensitivity analysis

If you manage a budget, you’ll also want to know how to run a sensitivity analysis – a technique that tests how robust your predictions are.

“If the economy suddenly hits a recession, will that affect the demand for your work or the pricing power you have over your rates? Are there expenses that could see a sizable change, like the cost of living significantly increasing in a fast-growing city? What about one-off costs that you don’t regularly budget for? According to Wallace, ” do you have a plan to mitigate them?” are questions to ask yourself about your financial planning. The idea of a sensitivity analysis is to consider the assumptions built into your financial model – say, assuming that your team is going to hit certain targets– and assess the likelihood of those assumptions being wrong. 

“A sensitivity analysis gives you the ability to consider multiple scenarios and understand how your financial plans may need to change if the future looks different than you anticipate,” says Wallace. No need to be a CFO to do this either – if you have a budget, you should unpack the assumptions involved in your plan. 

3. Critical thinking 

Speaking of assumptions, how often do you challenge your own biases and seek to look at problems in a variety of ways? It’s a crucial aspect of critical thinking – and critical thinking is a crucial aspect of solving problems. To flex your critical thinking muscles, you’ll want to look at issues from different perspectives. 

“Critical thinking involves seeing an issue from many angles, zooming out to the big picture and zooming into the details and back, and being able to imagine the impact of making different decisions on multiple stakeholders before making a final decision,” says Brancu. 

Practice this with every problem you solve and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised at the solutions that you come up with and the opportunities that open up as a result. 

4. Data gathering 

Data gathering is another important problem-solving skill to work on. Knowing how to gather both qualitative and quantitative data to solve problems is key, according to Brancu. 

“This involves taking the time to speak with critical stakeholders, and business data, and garnering other information to ensure that you are not missing anything important before making a decision. It helps you address your own blind spots,” she says. Gathering information about a challenge before making a move is not time wasted – it’s time gained down the line. 

5. Leveraging advisors 

Wallace says that leaders should build their own personal “board of directors” to solve problems more effectively. Leveraging your relationships in that way is an underrated but powerful problem-solving ability. 

Your advisors should include a collection of folks that you go to for advice, introductions, a fresh perspective, or some hard truth, says Wallace. “They bring their experience, judgment, and network to the table, providing counsel, access, and feedback. Rather than looking for one mentor who can be all things for an indefinite period of time, you can seek out directors who may do a rotation on your board for a few years, maybe more, maybe less.” 

To be clear, you don’t need to officially ask them to be part of your “board.” You simply have to make a point of connecting with them on a regular basis because you appreciate their experience and trust their advice. According to Wallace, you should seek to cover five key roles: a coach, a negotiator, a connector, a cheerleader, and a truth-teller. Turn to them when you’re unsure about how to move forward. 

6. Change-management skills 

Every leader should possess change-management skills when solving problems in this day and age. “Any decision that is made to address a problem needs to consider both the actual change that is required, as well as the people who would be affected. Most leaders overlook the impact and reactions of the people who are affected by any change, or they spend insufficient time considering how to involve different groups of people at different phases of a change process,” according to Brancu. 

“As a result, the problem might get worse because the leader didn’t get buy-in, didn’t communicate the concern or plan sufficiently or didn’t sufficiently address concerns raised,” she adds. 

If you become adept at change management, you’ll solve issues before they even happen. Talk about a useful problem-solving skill.

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Why Engineers Should Study Philosophy

  • Marco Argenti

excellent solving problems skills

Understanding the “why” before you start working on the “how” is a critical skill — especially in the age of AI.

The ability to develop crisp mental models around the problems you want to solve and understanding the why before you start working on the how is an increasingly critical skill, especially in the age of AI. Coding is one of the things AI does best and its capabilities are quickly improving. However, there’s a catch: Code created by an AI can be syntactically and semantically correct but not functionally correct. In other words, it can work well, but not do what you want it to do. Having a crisp mental model around a problem, being able to break it down into steps that are tractable, perfect first-principle thinking, sometimes being prepared (and able to) debate a stubborn AI — these are the skills that will make a great engineer in the future, and likely the same consideration applies to many job categories.

I recently told my daughter, a college student: If you want to pursue a career in engineering, you should focus on learning philosophy in addition to traditional engineering coursework. Why? Because it will improve your code.

excellent solving problems skills

  • MA Marco Argenti is the Chief Information Officer at Goldman Sachs.

Tackling labour and skills shortages in the EU

A young trainee in a hi-viz jacket working on a wall in Seville

Labour and skills shortages are on the rise in all EU Member States. Nearly two thirds (63%) of small and medium-sized businesses said in a recent survey that they cannot find the talent they need . In addition, the Commission has identified 42 occupations which have shortages. To address these labour and skills shortages, the Commission has presented an action plan setting out key measures that the EU, Member States and social partners should take   in the short to medium term. It will help unlock the EU’s growth potential, support its competitiveness, and provide better opportunities for all . 

There are five areas for action: 

  • Supporting underrepresented people to enter the labour market  
  • Providing support for skills development, training and education  
  • Improving working conditions  
  • Improving fair intra-EU mobility for workers and learners  
  • Attracting talent from outside the EU  

The action plan has been consulted with social partners, which is crucial to understand workers' needs and address labour market challenges. It also follows on from numerous initiatives that the EU, Member States and social partners have already put in place including the European Skills Agenda, the Pact for Skills and the European Year of Skills . The proposed actions are necessary if the EU is to reach its 2030 headline targets on skills and employment, i.e. at least 78% of the population aged 20 to 64 should be in employment, and 60% of adults participating in yearly training. 

For more information  

An economy that works for people  

Press release: Commission sets out actions to tackle labour and skills shortages in the EU 

Social Dialogue  

European Year of Skills  

Pact for Skills  

European Skills Agenda  

Val Duchesse Social Partners Summit 2024

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Energy.gov Home

Massac County High School Teacher Megan Musselman, center, helps students brainstorm ideas during EcoThink’s “Fast Fashion” sustainability challenge. Teams of students were asked to think of ways to reduce, reuse or recycle clothing, tackling an emerging environmental problem.

PADUCAH, Ky. – Local high school students from western Kentucky and southern Illinois put their problem solving skills to the test during the annual EcoThink project, challenging themselves to address environmental and sustainability issues through critical thinking exercises focused on teamwork and engineering concepts.

“The students really enjoyed this opportunity,” Paducah Tilghman High School Teacher Amy Clark said. “They liked seeing other students’ thought processes and ideas. One student said the word engineering frightened her but realized it wasn't as scary as she thought.”

This year’s project focused on a “Fast Fashion” challenge and the environmental impact of manufacturing cheap, limited-use clothing. Students were tasked with finding ways to reduce, reuse or recycle clothing by determining buying habits, back-to-school shopping needs and how to impact culture changes with their peers. Solutions presented by the teams included creating a phone application and distribution centers for renting clothes and designing clothing that can be modified depending on the season or style.

The EcoThink project was led by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office deactivation and remediation contractor Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership (FRNP).

“EcoThink is a great way to emphasize DOE’s mission for sustainability to students in the region,” EM Paducah Site Lead April Ladd said. “Not only does it bring awareness to real world problems, but by encouraging students to think about these problems, they may consider a career in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), which will be critical as the next generation workforce is developed.”

EcoThink, which was featured at the 2024 Waste Management Symposia ’s STEMZone, is conducted through a partnership between Sprocket, Inc. and University of Kentucky College of Engineering and sponsored by FRNP.

“Each year, I am impressed with the ingenuity displayed by the students who participate in EcoThink,” FRNP Program Manager Myrna Redfield said. “We appreciate all the teachers and volunteers who come together to make this event possible and look forward to growing and improving the program in the future.”

-Contributor: Dylan Nichols

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  1. What Are Problem-Solving Skills? Definitions and Examples

    When employers talk about problem-solving skills, they are often referring to the ability to handle difficult or unexpected situations in the workplace as well as complex business challenges. Organizations rely on people who can assess both kinds of situations and calmly identify solutions. Problem-solving skills are traits that enable you to ...

  2. 7 Problem Solving Skills That Aren't Just Buzzwords (+ Examples)

    First of all, they're more than just a buzzword! Problem-solving skills are a set of specific abilities that allow you to deal with unexpected situations in the workplace, whether it be job related or team related. It's a complex process that involves several "sub skills" or "sub steps," namely: Recognizing and identifying the issue at ...

  3. Problem-Solving Skills: What They Are and How to Improve Yours

    Problem-solving skills defined. Problem-solving skills are skills that allow individuals to efficiently and effectively find solutions to issues. This attribute is a primary skill that employers look for in job candidates and is essential in a variety of careers. This skill is considered to be a soft skill, or an individual strength, as opposed ...

  4. 26 Good Examples of Problem Solving (Interview Answers)

    Examples of Problem Solving Scenarios in the Workplace. Correcting a mistake at work, whether it was made by you or someone else. Overcoming a delay at work through problem solving and communication. Resolving an issue with a difficult or upset customer. Overcoming issues related to a limited budget, and still delivering good work through the ...

  5. 7 Problem-Solving Skills That Can Help You Be a More ...

    Although problem-solving is a skill in its own right, a subset of seven skills can help make the process of problem-solving easier. These include analysis, communication, emotional intelligence, resilience, creativity, adaptability, and teamwork. 1. Analysis. As a manager, you'll solve each problem by assessing the situation first.

  6. What Are Problem-Solving Skills? (Definition, Examples, And ...

    Problem-solving skills are skills that help you identify and solve problems effectively and efficiently. Your ability to solve problems is one of the main ways that hiring managers and recruiters assess candidates, as those with excellent problem-solving skills are more likely to autonomously carry out their responsibilities.

  7. Problem Solving Skills: Best Examples & Advice for 2024

    An employee with excellent problem-solving skills adds value to an organization since they can resolve conflicts, contribute to decision-making, and develop effective strategies that enhance productivity levels. Personal life heavily benefits from problem-solving skills, as individuals who can navigate through difficult situations can maintain ...

  8. How to List Problem-Solving Skills on a Resume [List Included]

    Then, add the problem-solving skills that you have and that are required in the job under your resume's "Soft Skills" section. #3. Prove Your Problem-Solving Skills In Your Work Experience Section. Finally, you should use the work experience section to prove that you've got the problem-solving skills you've mentioned throughout your ...

  9. What Are Problem-Solving Skills? (Examples Included)

    While any related skills are worth highlighting, some may get you further than others. Analysis, research, creativity, collaboration, organization, and decision-making are all biggies. With those skills, you can work through the entire problem-solving process, making them worthwhile additions to your resume.

  10. 8+ Top Problem Solving Skills for Your Resume

    1. Get outside of your comfort zone. Opportunities for problem solving often occur when we challenge ourselves and try something new. Take a course at your local university, volunteer for a good cause in your area, or get involved in a new project at work for opportunities to apply your problem solving skills. 2.

  11. What Are Problem-Solving Skills? Definition and Examples

    Problem-solving skills are the ability to identify problems, brainstorm and analyze answers, and implement the best solutions. An employee with good problem-solving skills is both a self-starter and a collaborative teammate; they are proactive in understanding the root of a problem and work with others to consider a wide range of solutions ...

  12. How To Include Problem-Solving Skills on Your Resume

    For example, when explaining your ability to problem solve, it helps to provide examples in addition to listing the skill on your resume. Here are a few ways you can highlight problem-solving skills on a resume: 1. Mention them in your work history section. When writing your work history, mention times when your problem-solving skills made a ...

  13. Problem Solving Skills

    Decision Making. Problem solving and decision making are closely related skills, and making a decision is an important part of the problem solving process as you will often be faced with various options and alternatives. See Decision Making for more. The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is ...

  14. Problem Solving Skills: What Are They?

    Problem-solving skills help you determine why an issue is happening and how to resolve that issue. It's one of the key skills that employers seek in job applicants. Problem-solving starts with identifying the issue, coming up with solutions, implementing those solutions, and evaluating their effectiveness. Since this is a skill that's important ...

  15. 10 Best Problem-Solving Skills for a Resume

    Here are the top 10 problem-solving skills to include on a resume: 1. Analytical skills. Еhe ability to gather, analyze and interpret data to identify problems and develop solutions. "Utilized strong analytical skills to gather and interpret data for a marketing campaign that resulted in a 20% increase in sales.".

  16. Problem-solving skills: definitions and examples

    Problem-solving skills are skills that enable people to handle unexpected situations or difficult challenges at work. Organisations need people who can accurately assess problems and come up with effective solutions. In this article, we explain what problem-solving skills are, provide some examples of these skills and outline how to improve them.

  17. 7 Best Problem-Solving Skills: Examples & How To Develop Them

    10 benefits of having problem-solving skills. Ability to manage their time effectively. Ability to prioritize, plan and carry out plans. Ability to think out of the box and identify opportunities in problems. Ability to work under pressure and deal with stress. Ability to evaluate and take calculated risks.

  18. 10 Creative Skills for Problem-Solving and How to Improve Them

    Plus, creative problem solving looks excellent on a resume. As a leader or team member, your ability to think outside the box can ignite a spark of ingenuity that propels your team to new heights. Fan the flames of growth and learn how to improve your creative thinking (and highlight your new skills in your next job application).

  19. What Are Problem-Solving Skills? (for a Resume & Career)

    Problem-solving skills are one of the key employability factors as identified by several independent studies. They consist of a set of interrelated abilities that allow you to solve problems effectively. Employers look for candidates with good problem-solving skills. You can show your problem-solving skills on a resume in many ways.

  20. Problem solving skills: the ultimate guide

    What are problem-solving skills in a work context? Surprisingly, some people who are excellent at solving problems in their personal lives might not be expert problem solvers in the workplace. People who have problem-solving skills in the workplace can handle challenges and adapt well to unforeseen circumstances by calmly evaluating the situation.

  21. How to List Problem-Solving Skills on a Resume (2024 Examples)

    Here are some common problem-solving skills you can list on your resume: 1. Analysis. The first step in solving any problem is analysing the situation. It helps you identify the cause of the issue and areas of improvement. While certain problems might be big, finding solutions improves workplace performance.

  22. 6 Problem Solving Skills For Excellent Leaders

    According to Wallace, you should seek to cover five key roles: a coach, a negotiator, a connector, a cheerleader, and a truth-teller. Turn to them when you're unsure about how to move forward. 6. Change-management skills. Every leader should possess change-management skills when solving problems in this day and age.

  23. Having Excellent Problem Solving Skills Can Make You More ...

    Luckily, we can become better problem solvers and therefore, lessen the number of problems we face. Your life can be seriously affected if you have poor problem solving ability. Whether we're happy or successful are largely determined by our problem solving ability. If you just leave problems being unsolved, you may suffer in the following ways:

  24. Why Engineers Should Study Philosophy

    Why Engineers Should Study Philosophy. by. Marco Argenti. April 16, 2024. Marina113/Getty Images. Summary. The ability to develop crisp mental models around the problems you want to solve and ...

  25. What Does a Transportation Coordinator Do? (with Salary)

    A transportation coordinator requires a blend of both soft and hard skills. From technical proficiency in logistics management systems to strategic planning skills and effective communication abilities, versatility is a key trait for success in this role. Below is a list of key skills for a transportation coordinator: Analytical skills

  26. Tackling labour and skills shortages in the EU

    Labour and skills shortages are on the rise in all EU Member States. Nearly two thirds (63%) of small and medium-sized businesses said in a recent survey that they cannot find the talent they need. In addition, the Commission has identified 42 occupations which have shortages. To address these labour and skills shortages, the Commission has ...

  27. Paducah Area Students Address 'Fast Fashion' at EcoThink Event

    PADUCAH, Ky. - Local high school students from western Kentucky and southern Illinois put their problem solving skills to the test during the annual EcoThink project, challenging themselves to address environmental and sustainability issues through critical thinking exercises focused on teamwork and engineering concepts. "The students really enjoyed this opportunity," Paducah Tilghman ...