Effective Critical Thinking Skills: Examples & How to Develop

Critical thinking skills are different components of a disciplined process of actively analysing, synthesising, conceptualising, evaluating and applying information and facts to form judgements. The key goal of effective critical thinking is to be rational and unbiased in analysis. Highly desirable traits in today’s workplace.

 

So how do you write ‘I think pretty good’, without writing ‘I think pretty good’? 

 

By taking each of the separate components, and showing you apply them to gain valid information, insights and judgements you can use to make good business decisions. 

 

Within this guide, you will find a plentiful list of critical thinking skills examples, a real-life CV example and advice on ways to include your strengths.

 

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Critical thinking skills on a CV example

 

Personal Info

 

Anna Little

07731 113241

anna@little.com

linkedin.com/annalittle

 

Summary

 

Enterprising final-year Mechanical Engineering student at Falmouth University on the way to achieve a 1st Class degree. The captain of the most successful Engineering Society team, responsible for concept and direction of the projects that won 6 of the last 8 seasonal challenges. Further honed my problem-solving and communication skills through being assigned independent work to find solutions to and present during two internships with Cyclone and FlyX.

 

Work Experience

 

Mechanical Engineer Intern

Cyclone Manufacturing Company, Reading

January 2020–Present

  • Actively participated in problem-solving on 3 commercial manufacturing projects, with budgets of £2m+. 
  • Honed observation and analysis skills by handling the tension, durability, and overload testing on new components. 
  • Encouraged to find creative solutions during work on 15+ part models in AutoCAD and MathCAD.
  • Fostered open-mindedness and problem-solving by being challenged on finding different solutions with different methods, i.e., CNC vs 3D printing, etc.
  • Developed communication skills by completing comprehensive documentation and presentations on all work completed.

 

Mechanical Engineer Intern

FlyX, Aberystwyth 

January 2019–February 2019

  • Actively learnt from a team of 8 experienced mechanical engineers by mirroring exact tasks alongside and being challenged to propose additional solutions.
  • Sharpened data interpretation skills by being tasked with collecting, cleaning and analysing the data.
  • Maintained legal, safety and health guidelines.

 

Education

 

B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering,

Graduation: July 2021, Projected 1st Class

University of Falmouth

Achievements: 

Engineering Society ‘Falmouth Rockets’ Team Leader (won 6 of the 8 challenges over the last two years)

  • Responsible for assigning research and execution tasks
  • Took charge of direction and concept on each project, weighing possible problem solutions and their implications

 

Skills

 

  • AutoCAD — Worked on various software: Revit, Navisworks, SketchUp to design and model 3D objects, and draft electrical wiring diagrams.
  • Autodesk Inventor — Part Modelling, Symmetry, Multi-body Part Design, Organic Shapes, ability to work with Curves and Splines

 

Languages

 

  • Chinese (advanced)
  • Spanish (basic)
  • Japanese (fluent)

 

Types of Critical Thinking Skills

 

The transferable skills that make up components of critical thinking are found everywhere, and can be applied anywhere. The first key consideration is to apply them correctly and gain a benefit from it, instead of wasting your time and energy.

 

The second is weaving them correctly into your CV, but more about that later. Let’s start with a list of examples of critical thinking skills that should set you on the right path to finding the exact examples that will impress your employer. 

 

1. Observation

 

Observation is the most basic act of capturing information. Spotting patterns and subtle details naturally can be a huge advantage. Just ensure you can prove that it’s relevant, and act on it. Examples of spotting a workplace problem before it happened can make a great CV bullet point about your observational skills. 

 

2. Research

 

The planning of your research, your ability to collect valid data, as well as the way you process it, provide the raw fuel for critical thinking. By collecting information, you gather truth and facts, and help to remove the potential dead ends.

 

3. Analysis

 

Sometimes, spotting subtle details isn’t enough, and a big picture is needed. Whether you’re good at listening, or a master of mySQL databases, the ability to capture and process information is always desired. So talk about what you did with data and to what end. 

 

4. Interpretation

 

Interpretation of information is seeking to give it meaning. Spotting trends, patterns, and inconsistencies whether naturally or by analysis is one thing. But actually interpreting what it means in terms of both origin, and implication is what makes the big bucks. 

 

5. Evaluation

 

Evaluation is a critical thinking skill encompassing appraising the validity, accuracy, authority, or bias of any piece or source of information. Understanding the who, what, when, where and why. The strength of your decision and conclusions may be affected by a confounding factor.

 

6. Communication

 

Communication skills are essential both in the earlier stages of gathering and analysing information, as well as in the stage of reporting the results and implications, which may also include the written form.

 

7. Open mindedness

 

Being open-minded is a critical thinking skill that lets you always stay up to date and in front of new challenges, instead of being stuck in the old, stodgy ways of thinking. By taking into account other possibilities and points of view, you allow room for improvement. 

 

8. Creativity

 

The ability to think outside the box is extremely useful in a world full of boxes. Multiple solutions or answers may be available, and it isn’t always the first, the easiest or the most obvious one that is right for the conditions.

 

9. Problem-solving

 

Proper critical thinking skills allow you to go from research, analysis and interpretation to preventative or responsive action. Finding realistic, effective and affordable solutions is an invaluable ability in an employee.

 

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How to include examples of critical thinking skills on your CV

 

Talking about your critical thinking skills and the achievements they made accessible is easy, you have time to elaborate. Figuring out how to write a CV filled with critical thinking skills is more challenging, but that’s what we’re here for.

 

1. Start with your CV profile

 

What needs to be included in your CV? Certainly, a CV summary, aka CV profile, should take prideful place right at the top of the page. It allows the recruiter to quickly establish what you’re about, and plugging in the right skills there will draw them in to find out more depth about you.

 

Critical thinking skills in the CV summary

 

Enterprising final-year Mechanical Engineering student at Falmouth University on the way to achieve a 1st Class degree. The captain of the most successful Engineering Society team, responsible for concept and direction of the projects that won 6 of the last 8 seasonal challenges. Further honed my problem-solving and communication skills through being assigned independent work to find solutions to and present during two internships with Cyclone and FlyX.

 

2. Include essential critical thinking skills in your job description.

 

The work experience section should be studded with your critical thinking skills. This is the meat of your whole CV, and opportunity to cover most ground with what you need to talk about. You may find these CV tips helpful.

 

  • Start by making a bullet point with each of the 9 components of critical thinking skills. Try to find an example of you applying this skill.
  • You may not be able to complete each bullet point. That’s fine—focus on the ones your future employer lists in the posting. Describe the adequate critical thinking skill in some detail.
  • Use numbers, figures and outcomes where possible to quantify your impact and build a good CV structure.
  • 5+ bullet points for your most recent job, cap it to 3 for the older ones, unless your older tasks are more relevant for the new job.

 

Job description with critical thinking skills

 

Mechanical Engineer Intern

Cyclone Manufacturing Company, Reading

January 2020

  • Actively participated in problem-solving on 3 commercial manufacturing projects, with budgets of £2m+. 
  • Honed observation and analysis skills by handling the tension, durability and overload testing on new components. 
  • Encouraged to find creative solutions during work on 15+ part models in AutoCAD and MathCAD.
  • Fostered open-mindedness and problem-solving by being challenged on finding different solutions with different methods, i.e., CNC vs 3D printing, etc.
  • Developed communication skills by completing comprehensive documentation and presentations on all work completed.

 

3. Writing an education section is critical

 

Writing a student CV right out of school may make it difficult to provide real-work examples of critical thinking skills. What helps is that university is all about critical thinking. Your CV education section can bolster your changes with relevant modules or extracurricular activities that seem relevant.

 

But if you’re a more experienced jobseeker just stick to the basics, putting your degree on your CV with just the essential facts.

 

Critical thinking skills in the education section

 

Education

 

B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering,

Graduation: July 2021, Projected 1st Class

University of Falmouth

Achievements: 

Engineering Society ‘Falmouth Rockets’ Team Leader (won 6 of the 8 challenges over the last two years)

  • Responsible for assigning research and execution tasks
  • Took charge of direction and concept on each project, weighing possible problem solutions and their implications

 

4. Manage your skills section

 

Since this guide is about critical thinking skills, your CV skills section should be full of them, right? Yes, and no. There is certainly no use putting ‘Evaluation’ or ‘Communication’ and three other nouns on a list with no elaboration.

 

If you have followed this guide, your previous sections should already be studded with fleshed-out examples of you applying these skills. Now, you have a chance to either provide more depth on your strongest sides, or to provide additional information that didn’t quite make it before.

 

  • Understand exactly what they’re looking for in the job posting, and choose exactly what’s relevant.
  • Target each CV to each separate job you’re applying for. 
  • Two skills supported with an example or justification are much better than a list of 5 random skills. Elaborate your most important skills in some depth. 
  • Add a brief statement of an instance, or process, where you applied it and achieved a positive outcome. 
  • Based on the position, balance soft skills and hard skills correctly. 

 

Since the job description beforehand focused mainly on soft skills, this skills section focuses on problem-solving using hard skills to provide the correct balance.

 

Critical thinking skills in the skills section

 

Skills

 

  • AutoCAD — Worked on various software to solve problems: Revit, Navisworks, SketchUp to design and model 3D objects, and draft electrical wiring diagrams.
  • Autodesk Inventor — Ability to analyse raw and anecdotal data to provide solutions through Part Modelling, Multi-body Part Design, Organic Shapes, ability to work with Curves and Splines

 

5. Include additional sections

 

You don’t wrap up the perfect CV with a jungle of random personal facts adorned with an ‘Additional Info’ heading. Whatever you’re including, make sure it’s relevant, so your CV hobbies and interests section needs to provide you skills somewhat transferable to your job.

 

Create a clear structure by listing Languages, Certificates and Awards under separate, clear headings.

 

Critical thinking skills in the extra sections

 

Certifications

 

  • Mindware: Critical Thinking for the Information Age by University of Michigan (Coursera)
  • Philosophy and Critical Thinking by The University of Queensland (edX)

 

Languages

 

  • Chinese (advanced)
  • Spanish (basic)
  • Japanese (fluent)

 

How to improve your critical thinking skills

 

It’s not as hard to develop your critical thinking skills as you think. Follow these simple tips to develop a critically honed mind that’ll make you more employable and better able to handle the flood of questionable information that comes your way.

 

1. Listen actively

 

Practising your active listening skills is a crucial aspect of critical thinking. Be attentive to gather every bit of information possible. As you listen, consider the motivations of others. Why did they say something? What prompted them to provide or withhold information? Gaining a full understanding allows you to react appropriately.

 

2. Ask questions

 

Asking questions goes hand-in-hand with active listening and is also essential to gather all the information needed for critical thinking. Question those who provide you with information to get all the details you need. Ask yourself questions about the accuracy and credibility of what you’re seeing. Critical thinking cannot take place without asking questions.

 

3. Understand biases

 

We aren’t algorithms. As humans, we’re prone to cognitive biases that are a barrier to critical thinking. They create errors in the way we receive and analyse information. Confirmation bias and the Dunning-Kruger effect are two well-known examples, but there are many others and you should learn more about them to recognise them in your own thinking.

 

4. Develop foresight

 

Consider the potential outcomes of your decisions and strategies. What could the end result be, including its impact on other people. Having the ability to weigh up the consequences will improve your critical thinking skills immensely.

 

5. Exercise hindsight

 

It’s just as important to look back as it is to look forward. What happened the last time you made a similar decision? What were the consequences and what could be improved upon. Learn from your past mistakes and successes to better consider future scenarios.

 

6. Accept your limitations

 

You’re not always right, and you don’t know everything. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but we all have our limitations. If you’re not an expert then check with a source that is, and if you get it wrong, admit and understand why you were wrong, so it doesn’t happen again.

 

7. Simplify the process

 

Do you need to apply critical thinking to a complex task? Don’t try to tackle it all in one go. Break down the problem into separate components to consider. Establish a step-by-step process to follow and even the most complex task will be easier to think through critically.

 

8. Seek out new knowledge and opinions

 

Narrow thinking is anathema to critical thinking. Grow your knowledge at work by speaking to colleagues in different departments and understanding their tasks, needs and motivations. Listen to people with different opinions to your own. Casting your net of knowledge widely will help you to grow as a critical thinker.

 

What else to remember about when putting critical thinking skills on your CV?

 

Thanks to the globalisation of learning, you don’t need to attend a crusty university to learn how to think more effectively. You can connect with the crusty school from a distance, gaining a foundation in critical thinking skills using one of many online courses provided by reputable institutions through different e-learning platforms.

 

Also, studies show that brain training games enhance cognitive function, so there already are simple things you can do today.

 

Make sure you consider your critical thinking skills among the things to include in your cover letter. It gives you room for elaboration that your CV will never be able to. Within you can provide specific examples of you using the critical thinking skills, instead of being general and descriptive.

 

You don’t have to be a CV writing expert. In the LiveCareer CV builder you’ll find ready-made content for every industry and position, which you can then add with a single click.

 

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If you’re still short of examples of critical thinking skills, or you just need some advice on how to include critical thinking in your CV, then let us know in the comments section. We’re here to help.

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LiveCareer Editorial Team

LiveCareer Editorial Team

About the author

Since 2005, the LiveCareer Team has been helping job seekers advance their careers. In our in-depth guides, we share insider tips and the most effective CV and cover letter writing techniques so that you can beat recruiters in the hiring game and land your next job fast. Also, make sure to check out our state-of-the-art CV and cover letter builder—professional, intuitive, and fully in line with modern HR standards. Trusted by 10 million users worldwide.

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