10 Ways to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills
What is one way to improve your problem-solving skills and share that skill in a job search?
To help job-seekers hone and showcase their ability to problem-solve, we asked CEOs and business professionals this question for their best tips. From tracking measurable outcomes to trying out mind maps, there are several insights that may help you become more solution-oriented to benefit your job search and career.
Here are 10 strategies for enhancing and highlighting your problem-solving skills:
- Work on Active Listening
- Aim to Learn About Digital Transformation
- Utilize Divergent Thinking
- Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem
- Be Conscious of the How and Why
- Start With Sudoku and Crossword Puzzles
- Track Measurable Outcomes
- Keep an Idea Journal
- Take on Leadership Roles
- Try Using Mind Maps
Work on Active Listening
Improving your problem-solving skills means always improving your critical thinking and communication skills. Don’t listen to a problem or a person only thinking about just responding. Listen with an intent to understand what they’re saying. Don’t be afraid to send back what you heard phrased in a question.
Responding with a phrase like, “What I hear from what you said is…, is that correct?” will really show off your ability to engage in that critical thinking as it relates to truly understanding what a person is saying and even reading between the lines. Taking this perspective can help you think of creative solutions because you’re not just listening to the surface. Using this tactic in an interview or by highlighting changes you brought to a previous company on your resume can be a good way to show off that skill.
Guy Katabi, Lightkey
Aim to Learn About Digital Transformation
Depending on your industry preference, there are always opportunities to learn a new skill to add to your resume. So whether you are interested in working in the financial services industry or sales and marketing, take some time to learn about relevant digital transformation approaches that improve problem-solving skills and accelerate the decision-making process.
The more knowledge and skill you have on digital transformation solutions like our low-code automation platform, the more you can make problem-solving easier for yourself and your company. In this way, you can present yourself as a valuable asset, so take some time to research what platform makes the most sense from a problem-solving standpoint for your desired role or company.
Spiros Skolarikis, Comidor
Utilize Divergent Thinking
When it comes to problem-solving, a very common approach is to use convergent thinking, meaning that you start with several known facts and end with one final solution. While this method can certainly be effective, a good practice to improve problem-solving skills is to use divergent thinking as well.
Divergent thinking involves starting with the problem you want to solve and then brainstorming multiple different solutions to that issue. Using this method makes it possible to find new, creative solutions that you may have never thought of before! Once a list of solutions has been generated, use convergent thinking to narrow down the list and decide which solution best fits the problem at hand.
Ravi Rouvier, Markitors
Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem
Neuroscientists have proven that focusing on the problem prevents your brain from finding answers. This is because focusing on the problem successfully feeds negativity, which causes the brain to generate negative emotions. These feelings stifle possible solutions.
I’m not saying you should ignore the problem, but you should try to maintain your calm. It’s helpful to acknowledge the problem first and then shift your focus to a solution-oriented attitude, where you focus on what the solutions might be rather than on what went wrong and who’s to blame.
Brian Greenberg, Insurist
Be Conscious of the How and Why
To problem-solve while on the job is a great skill to showcase during a job search! If you know you’ll be partaking in a job search soon, begin paying special attention to how you handle issues that arise and why you problem-solve the way that you do. By being conscious of your actions and reasonings for doing certain things, you’ll have a stronger sense of how to market those skills during an interview setting!
Jacob Dayan, Community Tax
Start With Sudoku and Crossword Puzzles
A great way to improve your problem-solving skills is to do online puzzles and challenges. For example, you can do sudoku, crossword puzzles, and similar exercises. My recommendation is to invest at least 30 minutes per day in these activities, which will help train your problem-solving muscles.
In your job search, you can share these skills in a number of ways. First, I would mention the practice in your cover letter. Puzzles like sudoku are quite popular, and so chances are the hiring manager will be familiar with them. Second, you can mention problem-solving and how it benefits your work in any interview.
Melissa Kelly, The Virtual Team Building Company
Track Measurable Outcomes
Involve yourself in keeping track of measurable and tangible outcomes in your team; it could be the TAT, rate of error/accuracy, or any other metric. Find out how your work and actions help improve the quality of the said outcomes. If the nature of your work doesn’t allow you to access such information, volunteer for internal company projects that address specific workplace challenges.
Once you have demonstrated an ability to solve pointed challenges, be sure to highlight it in your job application and cover letters in clear terms. For example, “I helped improve the accuracy for data processing from 99.1% to 99.5% by making changes to the data collection and input mechanisms.”
Joe Flanagan, VelvetJobs
Keep an Idea Journal
Journaling is an excellent way to improve problem-solving skills. You can write about your work or any passion projects you might be involved in. You can add problem-solving skills to your resume by listing your process specifically with the help of your journal.
Andrew Bernstein, Kinder Beauty
Take on Leadership Roles
When you are in a project managing or lead role, you have to think on your feet very quickly. In your current role, ask your team leads if you can try your hand at leading a quick project. This will help improve your overall skill in problem-solving and in managing people skills. Both are vital in corporate structures.
Olivia Young, Conscious Items
Try Using Mind Maps
Mind maps are a note-taking method in which you visually organize information in the form of a spider diagram. Mind maps can be used to help you retain focus, stimulate your mind for creative thinking, and generate a steady stream of solutions to challenges you’re facing.
Mind maps are effective because they reduce the mental load you face in remembering specific details all at once. By putting these details onto paper, you can lighten your mental burden, freeing up resources and making it easier to identify the ways in which your problems can be solved. This optimizes your problem-solving process, and by extension, reduces the fatigue you might otherwise endure through other problem-solving methods.
Simply start by writing down your main problem in the center, and add branches consisting of the reasons for the problem. Then, use sub-branches to elaborate on further details. Finally, make one last branch for possible solutions.
Paul Sherman, Olive