Forbes recently analyzed data from both Careerbuilder and O*Net (the Nation’s online database of occupations and necessary skills) in order to identify which jobs/occupations will be highly in-demand in 2013. This week they went a step further and analyzed they key skills necessary for success in those roles. The top 3 skills should be no surprise at all.
1) Critical Thinking
2) Complex Problem Solving
3) Judgment and Decision Making
Each of these skills were listed as critically important for 9 out of 10 of the Top Jobs in 2013.
Why does this matter? If you’re currently looking for a job, this is the time to differentiate yourself as a candidate. How can you highlight your critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making skills in an interview? Your resume is likely full of technical jargon and lists of accomplishments, but do you mention any complex problems you’ve solved or major decisions you’ve made?
As Rich Milgrim, CEO of Beyond, says: “I don’t know that many employers are sitting in an interview checking off boxes on ‘critical thinking’ or ‘active listening’ in candidates, but they absolutely are looking for those qualities.”
Many employers, however, are testing candidates critical thinking skills using assessments like the Watson-Glaser™ II Critical Thinking Appraisal assessment. In fact, nearly half of the Fortune 500 use this, or a similar selection assessment when evaluating candidates. This should come as no surprise considering that the Watson-Glaser, in addition to evaluating critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making skills also predicts overall occupational attainment and overall job performance.
The Forbes article supports years of research that has shown critical thinking is a skill of increasing importance. And yet, while critical thinking, decision making, and problem solving are key skills for Top Jobs in 2013, there is a major skills gap that employers must address. Research conducted by SHRM and WSJ.com noted that employers rated only 28% of recent College graduates as having excellent critical thinking skills. Even more disturbing is the fact that 0% of High School graduates were rated as excellent critical thinkers.
Because recent high school and college graduates are entering the workforce lacking these key skills, it will be the responsibility of their employers to train and coach more effective thinking.
How are you building the critical thinking skills of your employees?
Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens. She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training. She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting. She is the chief blogger for Critical Thinkers and occasionally posts at ThinkWatson. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.