Updated: Jun 23
The majority of organizations value employees who can solve problems well. Regardless of your job position, being able to solve problems effectively will help your professional growth.
Problem-solving is a crucial skill for a professional because challenges in the workplace must always be resolved. A good problem-solver may easily engage in the psychological process of recognizing, analyzing, and overcoming daily obstacles. It also enables one to use the resources at hand to resolve any problems in a way that is beneficial and upholds the integrity of the business. Additionally, having strong problem-solving abilities equips workers with difficult tasks to find efficient solutions to key issues.
Employers seek out candidates who can effectively solve problems since it demonstrates a variety of other skills, including reasoning, creativity, resilience, and lateral thinking. These are essential abilities for both a person's professional and personal life. Proactive problem-solvers who like completing jobs are respected and trusted team members because they: come up with innovative and effective ideas; have a better method of doing things; make things simpler for people to comprehend; and help save customers' time and money. At job interviews, candidates are evaluated on this important competence.
An individual possessing the problem-solving skill has efficient time management, the ability to prioritize, plan, and carry out strategies, as well as the capacity to think outside the box and work under pressure. Now this may seem simple, but a lot of employees and professionals struggle with problem-solving. This is because successful problem-solving requires other skills such as observation, critical thinking and analysis in order to go from recognition to implementation.
In this blog, we will discuss the important problem-solving skills, how you can improve your problem-solving and how to demonstrate that you are a problem solver in the workplace.
Important problem-solving skills
Workplace issues range from minor job-specific tasks to more difficult issues like the need to understand why sales have decreased over the previous month. In order to address problems effectively, one must first recognise what has to be done before proceeding. The following skills and qualities are what make up being a good problem solver:
Research and fact-finding
Creativity and innovative thinking
Ideation and imagination
Collaboration, teamwork, and leadership
Communication and reporting
Employers are on the lookout for individuals that are confident with decision making and taking responsibility. They need professionals who can get relevant information to guide their decisions and analysis in order to get the best way of coming out of a situation. A good problem solver will always be able to define the problem, come up with a variety of solutions, evaluate these solutions and choose the most practical and effective solution after weighing the pros and cons.
Employers are looking for those who can persevere through difficulties and ultimately succeed. When job searching, recruiters will want the job seeker to demonstrate their past experiences with problem solving. So it’s a good idea to underline the workplace challenges you have overcome in your resume and cover letter, and arrive at the interview ready to demonstrate your problem-solving skills.
How you can improve your problem-solving skills
Practice. This helps you be more comfortable with facing challenges and addressing them. Try working with a colleague to solve hypothetical but realistic problems within your field. Role-playing also helps with developing your skill.
Look for opportunities to solve problems. Both inside and outside of work, there are various chances to solve problems on a daily basis. If you’re up for it, volunteering on a new project that works to solve specific issues can be a good opportunity for you to develop this skill.
Enroll in a course. You can also take courses that are particular to your industry to see how people address workplace issues. Continuous learning leads to becoming a better problem solver.
Focus on the solution. Researchers say that one cannot come up with a solution if they are focused on the problem. Furthermore, paying more attention to the problem could mean negativity. This can stall your potential to create an effective solution. Instead, acknowledge the problem, clearly define it, and brainstorm on the possible ways to solve it.
Make things simpler. As humans, we tend to overcomplicate things. Be level-headed and simplify the problem by looking at it with a general perspective. Look at every detail and go back to basics. Some problems can be addressed with obvious and easy solutions.
Substitute your way of thinking. Approach the problem with a fresh perspective. Turn your objective around – a unique strategy frequently sparks creative ideas.
Different tools are available to detail the process of problem-solving, and help an individual learn from past experiences, both successes and failures. To improve your problem-solving skill, be more aware of what this skill entails and whenever you are doing it.
How to list problem-solving skills on your resume
Successfully listing this on your resume will set you apart from the pool of candidates, as you will be explaining the potential value you can bring to the table.
To do this, briefly describe how you identified a problem, came up with a solution, and put a plan into action. Make sure it is easy to read how you saw the problem and creatively resolved it. Use the skills outlined here to your advantage for positive outcomes. Make sure your resume includes instances of your problem-solving success. A good example of a strong statement is: “Increased customer service ratings by 32% by developing a website chatbot to address frequently asked questions.”
How to demonstrate that you are a problem-solver
This is not always easy, because there is only so much information you can put in your resume. But come that job interview, you will encounter the question: “Did you experience a situation in the past where you faced a difficult problem? How did you go over it?”
It is always best to be honest, even if you feel like your answer is not a major problem, especially if you do not have a lot of work experience yet. If you are a fresh graduate, try to think of a situation in your student life where you experienced an obstacle and overcame it successfully, maybe during your internship when you worked as a part of a project management team, or it could also be the time when you were writing your thesis paper.
But if you really cannot recall such a situation, you can always use your personal life experiences. A good example could be traveling abroad in a country that does not speak your language – how did you find your way around and enjoy your stay?
Be prepared for questions like this by spending time thinking about your past experiences. Come up with at least two scenarios that can demonstrate how you were an effective problem-solver. Employers like to think that the way you handled past challenges is an indicator of how you will solve problems as their future employee.
Always keep in mind that demonstrating your quick thinking and adaptability are what matter most, along with staying composed in pressuring or stressing situations, and finding a solution to move forward.