What are problem solving skills? definition and examples (2023)

Why do employers hire employees? To help them solve problems. Whether you're a financial analyst deciding where to invest your company's money or a marketer trying to figure out which channel to focus your efforts on, companies hire people to help find solutions. Problem solving is essential and salable.Skillsat work.

So how can you improve your problem solving and show employers that you have this valuable skill? In this guide we cover the following:

  • Definition of problem solving skills.
  • Why are problem solving skills important?
  • Examples of Problem Solving Skills
  • How to incorporate problem solving skills into an application
  • How to improve problem solving skills
  • Troubleshooting: The Bottom Line

Definition of problem solving skills.

Problem solving skills are the ability to identify problems, collect and analyze responses, and implement the best solutions. An employee with good problem-solving skills is a high achiever and a collaborative teammate. He proactively understands the root of a problem and works with others to consider a wide range of solutions before deciding how to move forward.

Examples of using problem solving skills in the workplace include:

  • Examine patterns to understand why sales declined last quarter
  • Try a new marketing channel to increase website signups
  • Brainstorm types of content to share with prospects
  • Test calls-to-action to see which drive the most product sales
  • Implemented a new workflow to automate a team process and increase productivity

Why are problem solving skills important?

Problem-solving skills are the most in-demand soft skills in 2022. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 86% of employers look for problem-solving skills on student resumes.Job Search Outlook 2022.

It's no wonder employers are looking for this skill – companies will always need people to help them find solutions to their problems. Someone who proactively and successfully solves problems is a valuable asset to any team.

“Employers are looking for employees who can make decisions independently, especially given the proliferation of remote/hybrid work and the need to communicate asynchronously,” said Eric Mochnacz, Red Clover senior human resources consultant. "Employers want to see employees who can make informed decisions that mitigate risk and do so without suffering from analysis paralysis."

Examples of Problem Solving Skills

Troubleshooting has three main parts: identifying the problem, analyzing possible solutions, and deciding the best course of action.

(Video) What is Problem Solving | Explained in 2 min


Investigation is the first step in problem solving because it helps you understand the context of a problem. Investigating a problem tells you why the problem is occurring. For example, have sales dropped because of a new sales tactic? Or because of seasonality? Is there a problem with who the sales team reaches?

The search broadens its scope to include all possible reasons why the problem might occur. Once you figure it out, it helps narrow down your scope to start solving.


Analysis is the next step in troubleshooting. After identifying the problem,analysis capacityhelp you see what possible solutions might exist.

"The purpose of analytics isn't really to solve a problem, it's to understand it better because that's where the real solution lies," says Gretchen Skalka, owner of Career Insights Consulting. "Looking at a problem through the lens of fairness is the only way to truly understand it from all angles."

Decision making

Once you figure out where the problem is coming from and what the solutions are, it's time to decide the best way to go.Decision making skillshelp you determine what resources are available, what a viable action plan entails, and what solution is likely to lead to success.

How to incorporate problem solving skills into an application

in a resume

Employers seeking problem-solving skills may include the word "problem solving" or other synonyms such as "critical thinking" or "analytical skills" in the job description.

"I would add 'tags' you might find in job descriptions or LinkedIn recommendations section to filter your ownfollowto comply with the ATS,” advises Matthew Warzel, CV writer for CPRW. Warzel recommends adding these skills to his resume, but cautions against “leaving interpersonal skills as adjectives in the summary section. That's the only place interpersonal skills should be mentioned."

On the other hand, you can enumerateHard Skillsseparated into oneSkills section on your resume.

(Video) Problem Solving - Meaning, Stages, Examples and Skills required for Problem solving

In a cover letter or interview

It can seem daunting to explain your problem-solving skills in a job interview. You need to scale up your process: once you've identified a problem, discussed possible solutions, and made a decision. As long as you can explain your approach, it's okay if this solution doesn't come from professional work experience.

“Young professionals are being tricked into thinking that only paid solutions are important to employers,” says Skalka. "People who are early in their careers don't have rich work experience to draw from, but they do have relevant experiences to share."

Aaron Case, career counselor and CPRW at Resume Genius, agrees and encourages beginning professionals to share this skill. "If he doesn't already have relevant work experience, he can still highlight his problem-solving skills in his cover letter," he says. “It only shows examples of problems that you have solved through your studies, internships or volunteer work. You can even cite examples of fully independent part-time jobs, as long as you make it clear how your problem-solving skills carry over to your new job.

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(Video) Problem Solving: 6 Skills needed to solve any problem

How to improve problem solving skills

Learn to detect problems

Troubleshooting is not just about finding solutions to existing problems. It's also about being proactive when something doesn't work out the way you expected. Practice asking questions and being curious about the processes and activities of your daily life. What could you improve? What would you do if you had more resources for this process? And if you had less? Challenge yourself to challenge the world around you.

digital thinking

“Employers in the modern workplace value digital problem-solving skills, such as the ability to come up with a technological solution to a traditional problem,” says Case. “For example, when I started working as a marketing copywriter, my department didn't have the budget to hire a professional voice actor to do voiceovers for marketing videos. But I found a perfect solution to the problem with an AI voiceover service that costs a fraction of the price of an actor."

(Video) #problem solving skill#Definition and #examples.

Getting comfortable with new technologies, even those you've never used before, is a valuable skill in an increasingly hybrid and remote world. Don't be afraid to explore new and innovative technologies to automate processes or find a more efficient technology solution.

work together

Problem solving doesn't happen in a silo, and it shouldn't. use your owncollaboration skillsgather multiple perspectives, break prejudices and listen to alternative solutions. Ask others where they think the problem is coming from and what solutions would help their workflow. From there, try to find a win-win solution.

To adjust

If there's one thing we've learned in recent years, it's that the world of work is constantly changing, so it's important to knowhow to adapt. Feel free to narrow down a solution and then change direction when a colleague provides new information. Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone, whether it's with your personal routine or trying a new system at work.

Get in the middle of tough times

Just as adaptation requires you to challenge your routine and tradition, good problem solving requires you to face challenging situations, especially those in which you do not have the relevant experience or knowledge to find a solution. Because you don't know how to deal with the problem, you learn new problem-solving skills and how to face new challenges. Ask your manager or colleague if you can help them solve a difficult problem, and be proactive in asking questions.

Troubleshooting: The Bottom Line

Companies always need people to help them find solutions, especially proactive employees who have practical analytical skills and can decide together how to proceed. Whether or not you have problem-solving experience in a professional workplace, demonstrate your problem-solving skills by describing your research, analysis, and decision-making process, and make it clear that you are the solution to current problems. from the employer.

Would you like to learn more professional skills on the job? MoneyTwo Sigma Professional Skills Development Virtual Experience Program.

Photo credit: Christina Morillo/Pexels


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