The Soft Skill Your Resume is Missing: Problem-Solving

When you’ve been working as long as I have, you realize that your resume is the most important tool in finding a job.

For years my secret was to write about the best soft skills I had to convince employers that they needed me for the position.

And whenever I thought of soft skills, I always focused on communication. Or work ethic. Sometimes even people skills. You know, the usual suspects.

But I’ve been wrong. So wrong.

After some digging and research I found out that problem-solving skills are a fundamental advantage I’ve overlooked. They’re employable, highly valued by recruiters and can set your resume apart from the others.

That’s when the lightbulb went off.

Most people don’t realize just how much problem-solving they do at work. I know I didn’t. So is this the missing soft skill that could be added to round out your resume?

First, let’s explore what it means when we say we can address and solve the company’s problems:

Problem-solving is the ability to recognize difficulties or complications, identify possible solutions, implement them, and finally, follow up to make sure they were successful.

Sounds easy enough. Or maybe it sounds like a typical work day for you. In fact, it may be time to let others know that.

The real question is:

  • How do we describe problem-solving skills on a resume?
  • And not use generic, obvious phrases like “Good problem solver”

So, if your skill set includes identifying problems and finding the right solutions, consider problem-solving as the crucial addition needed at this point in your career. Here are the seven different ways I’d put problem-solving front and center on my resume.

The Best Examples Of Problem-Solving Skills On Your Resume

1. Gathering Information

Research is one of my favorite skills. Seriously. Did you notice I said “skill”? Because research is employable. If you’re like me and geek out on research, you have yet another skill that needs to go straight on your resume. Check these out:

  • Ability to assimilate information
  • Ability to conduct research into a wide range of issues as required
  • Able to gather and summarize ideas
  • Able to identify problems
  • Able to research, create and document _________
  • Can identify problems, determine possible solutions and actively work to resolve the issues (You’re telling them been there, done that)
  • Demonstrated ability to gather and use relevant facts to inform decision-making and solve issues
  • Diagnosed problems
  • Enjoys research (This is me! No matter where I am in my career, I’ll use this phrase)
  • Possesses research and networking skills
  • Researched and analyzed policies/programs/regulations
  • Researched and resolved customer inquiries

2. Strategy

When the problem is identified, you never think now what? Your plan of action will include your strategy and you’re ready to show them how. Let’s try this:

  • A structured process to problem-solving
  • Able to get creative in how I find the answers
  • Able to take a problem and break it down into small achievable parts or actions (Makes the outcome more possible)
  • Approaches problems with a focus on incrementally working toward goals
  • Balanced near-term goals with a long-term vision/strategy
  • Can bring creativity when solving challenging problems
  • Can foresee problems coming and is three steps ahead
  • Developed a plan/strategy and outlined its’ projected results
  • Focused on incident and problem management
  • Fully capable in problem detection
  • Innovative problem solving
  • Innovative, strategic thinker
  • Practical and pragmatic approach to problem-solving
  • Problem assessment

3. Exploring Options

There will be times when there are no easy answers. Or you may be exploring new territory. If that’s the case, show everyone that you’re ready to think outside the box and try something new. Or groundbreaking!

  • Ability to take complicated problems and build simple frameworks
  • Ability to translate ideas and capabilities into unconventional solutions and deliver effective initiatives that exceed expectations (There’s no question this statement is wordy; however, it is impressive and carries a lot of weight. When using it, give examples)
  • Able to identify opportunities, issues and viable alternatives when traditional solutions do not apply
  • Answers questions, assists, mediates
  • Demonstrated ability to identify problems and determined optimal course of action
  • Explores alternatives and positions to reach outcomes that gain the support and acceptance of all parties
  • Focuses constantly to keep an “eye on the prize” mentality and remembers the end goals — even when the going gets tough
  • Inventing and ideating creative solutions
  • Isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo
  • Possesses a passion and curiosity for seeking answers to the unknown
  • Sees setbacks as manageable circumstance rather than a personal flaw (It’s all about attitude)
  • Troubleshoots in a timely manner until the issue is resolved
  • Used negotiation skills to achieve results
  • Works well with ambiguous/undefined problems

4. Analytical Thinking

Depending on the position, some recruiters will want to know what type of problem-solving skills you have.

Analytical thinking involves:

  • Thinking visually, as opposed to critically
  • Breaking down complex information into smaller parts
  • The ability to solve problems quickly and effectively

So consider using a key word like: analyze, analytical, analysis, etc.

  • Ability to analyze and resolve problems of high complexity
  • Ability to analyze, integrate and present data in an understandable, compelling, and solutions-oriented manner
  • Ability to assess sensitive and complex employee relations issues in a confidential, objective and systematic manner
  • Analytical reasoning
  • Good analytical and conceptual skills
  • Possesses good analytical and conceptual skills paired with detail orientation
  • Proven analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Provided analytical expertise
  • Strong analytical thinker who is data driven, yet able to make a decision quickly
  • Strong in analytical abilities
  • Well-developed problem analysis skills

5. Initiative

I never associated “initiative” with “problem solving.” But the emotional energy needed to find solutions can take a toll. Sometimes your well of unending emotional energy needs to be refilled…and emphasized.

  • A problem solver excited by a challenge
  • Anticipates problems
  • Approaches tasks with a problem-solving attitude
  • Energized by problem-solving (For some, this is their life and what they truly enjoy. You go to that person when you’re stuck because you know that they get the job done!)
  • Looks at problems with fresh eyes
  • Persists in seeking goals despite obstacles and setbacks
  • Strong ability to problem-solve, especially in areas where you have no experience
  • Strong problem solver with the ability to implement solutions
  • Takes initiative to leverage all resources to unearth the very best

6. People Skills

Was there ever a soft skill that didn’t call for interpersonal skills and communication? I can’t think of one either! With problem-solving you will need to be on your best behavior. And have exceptional people skills. Here’s how it works:

  • Able to diffuse high-tension situations quickly while maintaining productive relationships (I call it not burning bridges)
  • Addressed specific concerns via email, phone, chat or social channels
  • An even temper
  • Calm under pressure with a good sense of humor
  • Confers with others to reach resolution (Effective communication)
  • Has experience with counseling/coaching conflict/problems for individuals and teams
  • Interacted with coworkers to solve their concerns
  • Offered personalized solutions
  • Thrives in an environment where you must bring different points of view together

7. Finding Solutions

Finally, we can get to the heart of the matter and solve the problem. Here’s our key words: solution, resolve, solve, etc. This is not the time to be shy! Recruiters need to know exactly what you did so be specific about how you solved the problem.

  • Ability to solve problems creatively
  • Able to quickly assess situations before suggesting pragmatic solutions
  • Able to resolve issues quickly and to a high standard
  • Able to understand the problem and help devise solutions
  • Action-oriented, flexible problem-solver
  • Addresses complaints and resolves problems
  • Conflict resolver
  • Creative in problem-solving
  • Demonstrated ability to creatively approach problem-solving
  • Demonstrated ability to resolve conflict
  • Demonstrated problem-solving skills, as well as continuous improvement process skills
  • Develops practical, workable solutions to problems
  • Devised innovative solutions to complex problems
  • Digging deep for insights and solutions
  • Effectively solves problems involving high risk or high monetary cost to the company
  • Experienced in delivering and creating new solutions to problems
  • Finds solutions and prioritizes work
  • Fully capable in problem detection
  • Has experience with counseling/coaching/conflict/problem-solving for individuals and teams
  • Identified strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems
  • Ingenious problem-solver in the face of time and resource constraints
  • Initiates appropriate action to resolve routine to moderately complex problems
  • Innovative problem-solving
  • Listens and extends assistance in order to resolve problems
  • Logical problem solver
  • Master problem solver
  • Produced solutions
  • Resolved coworker complaints/grievances/problems
  • Resolved coworker inquiries and concerns quickly with a sense of urgency
  • Solution-focused
  • Solution-oriented work habits
  • Solved customer concerns in a healthy way
  • Structured problem-solving
  • Suggested solutions
  • Takes problems and dissects them for solutions
  • Understands and can estimate effort and value for solutions

Bonus Phrases

  • Ability to assimilate information quickly with a focus on the incident and problem management
  • Ability to blend problem-solving and decision-making
  • Ability to take complicated problems and build simple solutions
  • Able to work effectively when circumstances are hectic
  • Addressed tough situations, providing complete and actionable feedback
  • Deals with difficult issues
  • Facilitator role
  • Handles multiple, concurrent assignments effectively and makes timely decisions
  • Recommends, develops, and implements effective system and process improvements

Final Thoughts

As you emphasize problem-solving skills on your resume, focus on and emphasize:

  • How you problem-solve
  • Specific results
  • Your ability to communicate and listen

Terri Miranda is the founder of Resumes Rewritten and a freelance blogger. She’s a slow typist, hates spreadsheets, and is always rewriting her resume. Find out how to hire her or read more of her articles at resumesrewritten.com.

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Hatred of my resume turned into an unexpected love of writing.

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Terri Miranda

Terri Miranda

Hatred of my resume turned into an unexpected love of writing.

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