Problem-solving skills are highly marketable and sought-after by employers. Why? Think about it – how often do you encounter challenges in your daily life? At work?

Now, imagine that number of challenges multiplied by the number of employees at your company, plus the number of customers, suppliers, and vendors your company regularly has contact with.

That is what’s on the boss’s plate. If they have capable employees that can handle problem-solving tasks themselves, it allows them to focus on the larger issues of running the organisation and helping it succeed.

Let’s talk about what problem-solving skills are and how you can demonstrate them on your resume. Click here to learn more about how your problem-solving skills relate to your resume.

What Are Problem-Solving Skills?

Problem-solving has six basic steps.

  1. Identify the problem.
  2. Assess it creatively.
  3. Brainstorm possible solutions.
  4. Evaluate the solutions and determine the one that is best.
  5. Enact the solution.
  6. Evaluate the results, returning to Step 3 as necessary.

Problem-solving skills are transferable to virtually every job because, well, you’re going to run into problems wherever you are. For example:

  • Your supplier runs out of something vital and you must source it elsewhere.
  • You’ve double-booked two important meetings on the same day.
  • You’re experiencing higher than average employee turnover.
  • Your product isn’t selling as fast as expected.

The list of possible problems goes on and on.

In fact, some positions are based firmly on problem-solving. Think of a computer repair technician,  a mechanic, a plumber, or an HVAC technician. Each of these jobs involves finding and solving problems in various systems.

A Real-Life Example of Problem-Solving

Even in a small town, problem-solving skills are valuable transferable skills. Throughout my working life, I’ve often thought back to something I learned from my dad when I was a kid. He had taken on a job as an auto parts salesman. This involved traveling to auto parts stores and convincing acquisitions that his company was the best supplier around. The market was highly competitive.

Within a few months, dear old dad was the top-grossing seller at the company. Why? Salespeople were permitted to adjust prices and give away promotional items. Many of the salespeople would buckle when a store manager was hard to convince, feeling that they needed to ask permission before making certain offers. The stores often stuck with their current suppliers.

Not my dad, though. He aggressively pursued each sale, knowing that even if he broke even on the first sale by giving away or deeply discounting a product, subsequent sales would more than make up for it. He made the auto parts stores offers they just couldn’t refuse. Rather than shifting the problem back to his boss, he solved it creatively. And the results spoke for themselves.

How to Demonstrate Problem-Solving Skills on Your Resume

You can write a resume that says, “I’m a problem-solver!” There are several ways.

Say It Directly

In your job description bullet points, your skills list, or in your resume headline, include problem-solving. Keep in mind, however, that just saying you have these skills doesn’t set you apart from the crowd. You’ll want to take advantage of the following tips as well.

Use Problem-Solving Keywords

There are many other characteristics and traits related to problem-solving that you can use in your resume. Consider including one or more of the following terms in your task descriptions:

  • Identified problems
  • Rectify errors
  • Analyze
  • Analytical thinking
  • Creative solutions
  • Evaluate
  • Decide
  • Decision-making
  • Leadership
  • Identify
  • Assess
  • Assessment
  • Effective solution
  • Speed of implementation
  • Communication
  • Consulting

Depending on your field, you may also possess technical skills that would allow you to be a better problem-solver. For example, you may be skilled at using a certain computer software or at maintenancing a piece of equipment.

Leverage Your Experience

Using the above keywords, you can really demonstrate how you’ve used your problem-solving skills in the past within your Work Experience section.

If problem-solving is really important to the job at hand, devote at least one bullet point per job to exemplifying it. Try to show cause and effect – in a single sentence, briefly describe a problem you encountered and how you overcame it. You don’t have to use the word “problem-solving” here. Instead of saying it, show it.

If you can include quantifiable data, do so. For example, did you solve a major budgeting problem and save the company £2,000 per year? Did you fix a supply chain issue by routing orders through a different vendor, reducing a shipping delay from three months to one day for more than a thousand customers? Solid statements like these are more compelling than vague descriptions.

In Conclusion

Problem-solving skills are vital to almost every industry. You can demonstrate that you have these skills by using related keywords and demonstrating how you solved problems within your work experience descriptions.