If your problem-solving process involves divergent thinking, we have the tips you need to highlight that skill on your resume

As the modern workplace continues to evolve at breakneck speed, more and more companies are in the market for talented employees who can help to fuel their innovation. For job seekers, it's more important than ever to highlight problem-solving skills on their resume so that employers can see the type of creative value that they can bring to a position. But what if your problem-solving style involves some form of divergent thinking? Is that a skill that you should include on your resume? Absolutely!

In this post, we'll explore divergent thinking as a problem-solving skill and explain the difference between it and other types of problem-solving skills. We'll also help you to understand how you can include this exciting and innovative skill on your resume.

What is divergent thinking?

Divergent thinking is a type of problem-solving that relies on a less structured approach to finding solutions. Most people have worked with a divergent thinker at some point in their careers, even if they didn't recognize it at the time. You can usually identify this type of problem-solving when you see it in action, since the person using it can typically be seen offering a range of possible solutions to any given challenge. If you're the type of person who enjoys “brainstorming” to solve problems, then you may be a divergent thinker.

In short, divergent thinking involves a free-form approach to removing obstacles. Someone with this type of skill can rapidly generate multiple options for solving any problem, including potential solutions that no one else imagines. Supremely talented divergent thinkers are capable of not only thinking “outside the box,” but also of working in collaboration with others to refine their ideas, discard those that may be unworkable, and figure out ways to implement their best solutions.

Divergent thinking vs convergent thinking vs lateral thinking

One way to define divergent thinking is by comparing it to two other types of thought processes: convergent and lateral thinking. While divergent thinking is free form in style and structure, convergent thinking is a more linear type of critical thought that relies on analysis, rules, and a consistent chain of logic. Meanwhile, lateral thinking applies both convergent and divergent thought processes – creativity and analysis – to identify a single solution to any problem.

Why would a company need divergent thinkers?

At first glance, divergent thought processes might seem too chaotic to be of any true value in a working environment. After all, the drive to find the best solution in the quickest time might seem to leave little room for any wide-open type of brainstorming. However, experience has aptly demonstrated the need for divergent thinkers in business. In fact, the divergent approach to identifying potential solutions can enable organizations to create and implement innovative ideas they might otherwise never consider.

How to include divergent thinking in your resume

Of course, your divergent thinking skills can only work to your benefit if you're able to showcase them in your resume and land a job where you can use them to full effect. Fortunately, there are several places on your resume that can be used to effectively highlight this skill. You should include references to your divergent thinking style in your resume summary, your skill section, and within your work experience section. The goal should be to use those listings to illustrate how your ability to think divergently can provide creative solutions to any potential challenge.

Including divergent thinking in your resume summary

Since the summary is the first section that most hiring managers see, it's important to emphasize your problem-solving skills in that introductory paragraph. Try to compose a single sentence that describes your divergent approach to solving problems, focusing on the results that you can achieve with this style of brainstorming. For example:

Divergent thinker capable of quickly and creatively generating multiple innovative solutions to any challenge and maximizing the effectiveness of team brainstorming exercises to enable faster resolution of problems.

Listing divergent thinking in your skill section

You can further emphasize this talent in your skills section. Here, you can separate some of the elements of divergent thinking into separate skills if you prefer. That can help to ensure that your reader better appreciates how the core components of your thought process work together to produce superior results. Some of those key skills can include:

  • Brainstorming solutions

  • Questioning preconceptions

  • Imagination and creativity 

  • Reframing problems

Alternatively, if you already have a full list of skills to highlight in this section, you can simply include an extra bullet point to emphasize your skill as a divergent thinker.

Providing examples of divergent thought in your work experience section

Your work experience section can provide another way to highlight this dynamic skill. Here, though, you'll want to take a different approach. Instead of simply saying that you're a divergent thinker, you should include one or two examples of how you used divergent thinking to resolve problems and achieve your previous employers' goals. Below are some examples of how you could describe your use of this skill:

  • Led 10-person team brainstorming sessions for 4 years, consistently creating out-of-the-box solutions that reduced customer attrition by 27%, increased annual sales by 32%, and improved overall customer satisfaction by 19%
  • Implemented divergent thought funnel in team meetings, expediting problem resolution and delivering consistent innovation in processes and customer service
  • Developed a fast-track analysis system that enabled the team to generate multiple solutions to any problem while quickly analyzing the potential effectiveness of each option

With a little thought and reflection, you should be able to produce several examples of times when your divergent thought processes provided measurable benefits for an employer. Pick the best two or three examples and drop them into your work experience section to really illustrate the value of your problem-solving skills.

The way forward

As companies continue to seek innovation, divergent thinkers are going to continue to be in high demand. To take advantage of that demand, you should make sure that your resume properly conveys your divergent thinking skills to any prospective employer.

Struggling to create the compelling resume you need to land a great job in today's competitive labor market? Get the help you need by obtaining a free resume review from our experts today!

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