Essential Creative Thinking Skills Examples and How to Develop Them

Creative thinking skills for resume
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Creative thinking is the ability to look at things from diverse perspectives and generate unorthodox solutions to everyday challenges. Creative thinkers actively explore different approaches to a problem or a challenge to drive innovation, change, and progress. It is a set of skills that could be developed over time without being naturally creative.

The common stereotype suggests that only artistic professions require creativity. Nonetheless, anyone can apply creative thinking skills to a wide range of activities and professions. For example, employers want creative employees who can solve a team conflict with unique resolutions, provide new analysis on a data set, or create innovative advertising copies.

In this article, we will be going through the definition and examples of creative thinking skills, techniques to develop these skills, and ways to present them in a resume/CV.

What Is Creative Thinking Skill?

Creative thinking is to think outside of the box and solve complex problems in ways no one thought of before. One can stimulate right brain thinking through techniques like brainstorming, lateral thinking, or multidisciplinary knowledge application. With creative thinking skills, employees will be more productive as they are open-minded to experiment and accept new ideas. When facing challenges, they are less likely to be over-stressed or meeting dead ends.

Another term that has a different meaning but sounds similar is critical thinking. Both critical and creative thinking skills are one of the 4 C's of 21st century skills (the other two are communication and collaboration) as they are important soft skills to have in the workplace and daily life. While creative and critical thinking is interdependent, they are not the same.

Critical thinking is the ability to identify fallacies or biases and analyze information rationally to make informed judgments. Critical thinkers scrutinize their thinking process to avoid flaws. In general, creative thinking skills focus on generating unique ideas or solutions, while critical thinking is about thinking the way you think and asking the right questions.

Here is a list of 10 jobs that use creative thinking skills:

Art Director

Art directors are the leader of a group of designers. They use their creativity and experience in the industry to guide and inspire the vision of the team.


Copywriters are the content creators who create copies, or advertising text, to reach marketing goals such as increasing brand awareness or gaining customers.

Graphic Designer

Graphic designers create digital images such as logos, social media posts, book/magazine covers, and other artworks for a variety of industries. They often need to communicate with clients to create marketing materials that match their visions.

Industrial Designer

Industrial designers plan the layout of manufactured products such as cars, home appliances, and furniture. They consider the design from all dimensions including function, aesthetic, and budget while challenging limitations with creativity.


Journalists are news writers or storytellers targeting a mass audience. They gather timely information, creatively process them to attractive form, and disseminate it to the public.

Music Teacher

Music teachers teach people how to sing or play instruments. They use creative teaching methods to guide different students because everyone has a unique voice and musical development.

Public Relations Manager

Public relations managers oversee and maintain the public perception of an organization or client. They monitor real-time trends that might affect their companies and suggest new ways to enhance public images.

Research Scientist

Research scientists plan, design, and conduct research experiments, then report their findings in papers. They use their creative thinking skills when solving complex problems or forming new hypotheses.

User Experience (UX) Designer

UX designers create products and platforms that support useful and relevant experiences for the users. They need to observe users’ behaviors and interpret how their minds process when interacting with the product.

Web Developer

Web developers plan the structure and create new websites by writing codes. They need creative thinking and problem solving skills to test and debug codes or identify issues that cause visitors to bounce off their sites.

Benefits of Creative Thinking Skills

Any field of work and everyday problems need people that can use creative thinking skills to provide the best solutions and be resilient when facing challenges. Here are some benefits and application examples of creative thinking in everyday life, on resume/CV, at work, for students, and in business.

  • Creative thinking in life skills:
    People deal with all sorts of challenges in daily life, and it is crucial to have problem-solving skills to cope with them. Creative thinkers break inertial thinking and embrace change by inventing new solutions or perspectives of looking at difficulties.
  • Creative thinking skills to boost resume/CV:
    Creative thinking skills are highly valuable soft skills that employers search for when selecting candidates. Consider incorporating keywords in your resume that demonstrate your creativity and relate to the job you are applying for. You might enhance your chance to be selected for an interview or land a new job!
  • Creative thinking at work:
    For workplaces to have high engagement in daily activities, work productivity, and positive relationship-building, employees need to be open-minded to resolve issues creatively. Consider upskilling yourself with creative thinking skills at work, it would not only help your overall success but also encourage a happier and more competitive workplace.
  • Creative thinking skills for students:
    There are many opportunities for students to express their creativity at school. Whether you are leading a group project, writing essays, or connecting with professors during office hours, it would help to have creative communication skills to express multidisciplinary perspectives and learn from other’s creativity.
  • Creative thinking for business:
    Businesses could utilize creative thinking to provide the best solutions for problems that their clients or customers would face. Innovative products or services are often a firm’s competitive advantage against the market, which is why employers emphasize creative thinking skills for businesses to bloom.

What Are Some Examples of Creative Thinking?

Now you might be wondering, what are creative thinking skills? What is the skill set you need to develop new ideas quickly or accelerate your thinking process under pressure?

Here are 10 creative thinking skills examples that would guide you to exercise creativity:

1. Analytical Mindset

Creativity in analytical thinking helps one find a new pattern in a data set, or form new perspectives on a trend.

2. Problem-solving

Solving unexpected problems with innovative solutions requires out-of-the-box thinking skills and creativity in identifying the problem’s weak spot.

3. Communication

Creative thinking in communication is essential for persuading others to execute your new idea or accept your point of view.

4. Open-mindedness

Being humble and open to diverse opinions helps accelerate the thinking process and foster creativity.

5. Organization

Organizing your creative ideas helps formulate clearer claims and allows others to follow through with your decision-making process.

6. Experimentation

There may be a lot of free-flowing ideas that are unique but not useful for the problem you are facing. Thus, experimenting and testing out ideas is crucial in finding the best possible solution or fostering the generation of even better ideas.

7. Active Listening

Listening carefully to the problems that your clients, customers, or co-workers are dealing with, before brainstorming a variety of useless solutions.

8. Curiosity

Being curious is the key to learning and being exposed to diverse cultures and knowledge, which are the foundation of creative inspiration.

9. Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking is a non-sequential way of creative thinking that often leads to unexpected answers. It ignores the implied rules and limitations and only focuses on one goal ­– solving the problem.

10. Divergent Thinking

Opposite to convergent thinking, which is finding the correct answer, divergent thinking is asking the important questions to navigate the complex uncertainty and develop unique solutions.

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    Techniques for Developing Creative Thinking Skills

    Some people are naturally right-brained creative thinkers. However, with acquired effort, anyone can develop creative thinking skills.

    Here are 5 techniques for developing creative thinking:

    1. Step outside of your comfort zone.

    Regardless of how cliché it might sound, stepping outside your comfort zone is truly helpful when building your creative thinking skills. If you only see and feel what’s inside your comfort zone, then you are missing out on fresh ideas and strategies that might widen your perspectives. Try to become comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, the fear of failure, or whatever is stopping you from taking the first step.

    2. Stay on top of trends.

    Understanding what is currently trending and distinguishing what matters to your business is crucial for timely creativity. Creative thinkers actively absorb information about their industry and build a network of both insiders and outsiders to monitor the trend and envision its influence in the long term.

    3. Force yourself to create something every day.

    Thinking skills and creativity can be developed through familiarizing yourself with the process. It doesn’t have to be significant, just train your brain to think of something new every day and turn it into a habit.

    4. Engage with a diverse group of people.

    It feels comfortable staying in one social group and meeting with people who have similar views on life. However, to spark creativity it is crucial to meet new people and learn what others think. By challenging your brain to think things from different perspectives, you would become more open-minded and creative at the same time.

    5. Consume diverse content and knowledge.

    Expose yourself to different and even opposite kinds of content. Search up topics that you don’t usually consume. The more information you consume that ranges from a vast variety of topics, the easier it is to come up with a different perspective.

    Tips for Showing Creative Thinking Skills In a Resume/CV

    It is important to position yourself as a creative thinker to make you a more valuable job candidate. There are many ways you could incorporate creative thinking skills in a resume/CV.

    Here are 3 tips for showing creative thinking skills when creating a resume.

    ✅ Craft a creative resume design.

    Depending on the type of job you are seeking, you might need a nontraditional resume to help you stand out from the applicant pool. Choose a creative layout and color scheme that showcases your individuality or follows a theme that matches the company/job. Most importantly, make sure you don’t compromise the organization and clarity of your content with cool but messy designs.

    ✅ Use descriptive keywords in your resume writing.

    Many employers still prefer a traditional, design-less resume because the text is usually better organized and ATS-friendly. However, you could still incorporate descriptive keywords and action verbs in your experience or skills section to showcase your creative soft skills.

    ✅ Follow through with your claims.

    If you proceed to the interview stage, the recruiters will likely refer to the things you wrote on your resume or your design inspiration and ask questions about it. So, make sure you can come up with specific examples of how you used creative thinking skills in your past roles and link your ability to the job requirement.

    🔑  Key Takeaways:

    Creative thinking is the ability to think outside the box and come up with new ideas. It is one of the 4Cs of 21st century learning. Some examples of creative thinking skills include open-mindedness, problem-solving, communication, and lateral thinking. It is a skill set that can be developed over time with continuous practice. Employers value employees with creative thinking skills because they help boost revenue and improve workplace positivity. Consider highlighting yourself as a creative thinker on your resume and during interviews to make yourself outstanding.

    --- Originally written by Sandy Tuo---

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