Inductive reasoning involves using logic to make generalizations and is one of the vital soft skills employers seek in new hires
If you've ever been in a position to make autonomous decisions or figure out new processes without any type of roadmap, you probably relied on inductive reasoning to get you through. The process of assimilating details into a conclusion is the basis of inductive reasoning.
In this article, we'll explore exactly what inductive reasoning is and why it's important, especially as it relates to your career and job search. We'll also give you some inductive reasoning examples.
What is inductive reasoning?
Inductive reasoning is fusing experience with knowledge to make predictions about something or generalize a situation. While your assumptions may not be 100% accurate, the evidence should reasonably support why you drew the conclusions you did.
Statisticians, mathematicians, salespeople, researchers, managers, analysts, and technicians use inductive reasoning daily. Being able to identify patterns can help you to develop strategies and identify procedural gaps that directly affect efficiency, productivity, and profitability.
For example, suppose you notice that your social media marketing content attracts the most engagement during the early evening on Wednesday and Friday. In that case, you can logically assume that that would be the best time to interact with potential consumers.
Types of inductive reasoning
As with anything else, there are different types of inductive reasoning. You've probably used more than one, depending on the situation in which you found yourself.
This type of inductive reasoning is useful when making observations about a sample or population.
Many people over the age of 65 enjoy eating dinner before 5:00 pm
My restaurant has a slow time between the hours of 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm
Offering a type of early-bird incentive targeted to people over the age of 65 could boost profitability
Perhaps you're the type of person who relies heavily on quantifiable data. This is the inductive reasoning type for that personality. Some people feel that statistical reasoning allows them to draw better conclusions.
100 students at the local junior college earned an average score of 82 on their math exams
100 students at the local university earned an average score of 91 on their math placement exams
Students at the university level have better math skills than those at the junior college level
Bayesian inductive reasoning is an add-on to statistical reasoning. It applies additional logic to update the conclusions drawn from the already-present statistics.
New data indicating the age range of university versus junior college math students became available
100 junior college students between the ages of 25 and 30 score an average of 85 on their math exams
100 university students between the ages of 25 and 30 score an average of 93 on their math scores
University students between 25 and 30 years of age have better math skills than their counterparts at the junior college level
With causal inductive reasoning, you seek out cause and effect. This type of inductive reasoning can be tricky, because it's so easy to draw the wrong conclusions about the effect of a thing that's happening. Additionally, a lot of people confuse correlations with causation. It's important to remember that correlation has to do with how two things relate, rather than something directly affecting something else.
Example of correlation versus causation:
When it's hot outside ice cream sales go up
When it's hot outside people get more sunburns
People with sunburns eat more ice cream
While having a sunburn and eating ice cream both relate to being outside on a hot sunny day, there is nothing that says people with sunburns eat more ice cream. Numbers one and two are great causal reasoning assumptions. Number 3 is a faulty assumption based on the relationship between being in the sun, getting a sunburn, and being hot enough to buy more ice cream.
Causal reasoning analyzes trends to find out why things happen. Predictive reasoning uses trends to make assumptions about what will happen next. Causal and predictive reasoning are often used together. If ABC causes DEF, then ABC predicts that GHI will happen.
People enjoy being out in the sun during the summer
Being exposed to the UV rays of sunlight causes sunburns
Area hospitals see a surge of bad sunburns during the summer months
As you can see, the second thing is caused by the first. The third thing is predicted by the first thing.
Why is inductive reasoning important?
Soft skills are highly sought after in the workforce. It's been said that hiring managers favor job applicants with the right soft skills when the availability of hard skills is lacking.
- Soft skills are characteristics you possess that make you good at what you do
- Hard skills are things you know how to do because of experience and education
One of the top soft skills employers look for in a job applicant is creative problem-solving and innovation. Many people associate deductive reasoning with creativity; however, inductive reasoning fits, too. The ability to put things together to draw conclusions and bring about transformative change will make you highly sought after in the workforce.
What is the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning?
The two should definitely not be used interchangeably. Basically speaking, inductive reasoning uses a bunch of data to draw conclusions. With deductive reasoning, you start at the conclusion and work backward through the data to deduce what already happened.
Inductive reasoning is what will (or is likely to) happen based on this set of data
Deductive reasoning centers on trying to find out why a thing happened the way that it did
There is some debate about which is better - deductive or inductive reasoning. While each has pros and cons, as long as they're used properly, neither is better than the other. It all depends on what's going on, what needs to happen, and how you should present yourself within a given field.
Inject some inductive reasoning into your resume
Letting companies know they want to hire you starts with your resume. Your resume should contain a strong mix of both hard and soft skills. So, how would you indicate your ability to leverage inductive reasoning to solve problems?
Increased profitability by more than 75% after noticing that sales were improved by sharing customer testimonials with prospects
Slashed inventory shrink costs by onboarding a new supplier with a reputation for delivering undamaged goods
Reduced employee turnover after discovering that those with less than 5 years of experience kept quitting and revamped hiring processes to onboard staff with 5+ years of experience
Use the STAR method
As you fine-tune the story you want to tell with your resume, remember to use the STAR method. This method is the best way to talk about achievements succinctly.
- Situation: What was going on?
- Task: What was being affected by the situation?
- Action: What action did you take?
- Result: What was the result of your action?
When you stick to the STAR method, you'll be able to hit the mark when demonstrating your qualifications and you'll come across as an achiever rather than a doer. It's also a great way to pique the hiring manager's interest and open the conversation to more details.
Don't forget the cover letter
The number of hiring managers who read cover letters has increased (almost doubled) in the last couple of years. Your cover letter is a great place to showcase additional skills and expand on ideas in the resume. You want to avoid regurgitating the same details from your resume; however, it's perfectly fine to provide more details.
To say the least, you can use the cover letter to persuade employers with tales of your excellence in logic and reasoning to solve complex problems. The cover letter is the best place for that type of narrative, because it allows you to speak to a prospective employer in a more personal language.
Bring up your inductive reasoning abilities during an interview
In the spirit of ensuring that you impress the hiring manager, keep talking about your skills when you step into their office for the interview. You've already wowed them with your resume and cover letter; keep that going as you speak about your experience and education.
Just like with your resume, use the STAR method to answer interview questions that involve you using inductive reasoning.
Inductive reasoning skills can be improved
Only some people can take a set of circumstances to conclude or predict what will happen. If you don't fall into this category, no big deal - though you should avoid using it as a skill on your resume. It's never too late to learn a new skill or hone a skill you already have.
This is especially true if you want to change careers. Perhaps you're moving from a field where inductive reasoning wasn't a thing but now it'll be something you have to rely on more often. Don't be afraid to let a hiring manager know that inductive reasoning is one of your weaknesses but that you're working on it.
Your ability to make decisions based on imperfect or incomplete information can help you to stand out from the crowd of other job seekers. Positioning yourself as someone who understands and applies the concepts of the varying forms of inductive reasoning allows you to showcase a soft skill employers want.
TopResume has a team of expert resume writers standing by to help you demonstrate your inductive reasoning skills, whether you need a resume, a cover letter or new LinkedIn profile.