Decision-making skills can be a critical asset for any professional, regardless of their field. It’s a collection of soft skills that you can use to do anything from choosing a color palette for a web page to creating an annual operating budget.
Whether you’re an entry-level candidate or a senior executive, your ability to make decisions competently can have a big impact on your professional career, make you more efficient and productive in the workplace, and more.
In this article, we’ll explore the importance of decision-making skills and go through some of the most prominent ones. Then, we’ll teach you how to add them to your resume and even how to further improve these abilities, so let’s dive right in.
Decision-making skills are a broad collection of abilities that allow you to make informed decisions based on the analyzed information. They are applicable in many different careers and positions, particularly for the roles of managers and executives.
Decisions can be put into four broad categories: programmed and non-programmed, operational and strategic, organizational and personal, and individual and group decisions.
Some of the most important decision-making skills include problem identification, insight collection, option evaluation, solution finding, and critical thinking.
You can improve your decision-making skills by taking your time to analyze all the information, narrowing down your choices, seeking advice and feedback, reflecting on previous decisions, etc.
What Are Decision-Making Skills & Why Are They Important?
Decision-making skills refer to your ability to analyze information, evaluate options, and make sound judgments that lead to favorable outcomes. They are becoming more and more important in today's fast-paced professional world, where making good decisions quickly can have a big effect on productivity and quality of work.
Decision-making can take a lot of time, yet a recent study found that only 20% of surveyees consider their organizations to excel at it. Moreover, the majority of respondents think that much of the time spent making decisions is wasted. All of that makes decision-making skills an incredibly valuable addition to your resume.
Furthermore, it is a broad skill set that incorporates elements of many other abilities, particularly problem-solving, critical thinking, risk assessment, and strategic planning. As a result, by properly demonstrating your ability to make decisions, you indirectly portray yourself as a multi-skilled and flexible candidate.
Lastly, these abilities are essential for professionals at all levels of an organization. Employers are always looking for individuals who can make well-informed decisions to achieve business success. That being said, you shouldparticularly emphasize this skill set if you’re applying for a position as a manager or an executive.
Types of Decisions
There are many different types of decisions, and they can be broadly put into four categories:
Programmed and non-programmed decisions. This categorization stems from the nature of these decisions. Programmed ones are repetitive and are usually taken based on established rules and policies. On the other hand, non-programmed decisions are related to uncommon situations and often need to be handled in a unique way.
Operational and strategic decisions. Operational (also known as tactical) decisions deal with current problems or situations. For example, they can revolve around inventory or resource management. Strategic decisions are mostly taken by high-level managers, and their focus is on long-term effects.
Organizational and personal decisions. The majority of decisions that individuals make in the workplace are organizational since they directly impact the organization. However, there are instances where personal decisions can affect the company, like a person’s decision to quit their job or change careers.
Individual and group decisions. Nowadays, group decision-making is more common and often utilized in the workplace, as it ensures better coordination between all members of the team. However, simpler, programmed decisions can still be quickly and effectively made by individuals.
Top 7 Essential Decision-Making Skills To Include in Your Resume
By definition, decision-making skills represent a broader set of abilities, so let’s take a look at some of the most prominent ones that you can demonstrate on your resume.
#1. Problem Identification
Identifying a problem is the first step in the decision-making process. It involves not only recognizing and defining a problem but also discovering the underlying issues that caused it.
To be able to do that, you need to have a deep understanding of a situation and its context, as well as all potential implications. This will enable you to interpret the data and identify key points.
Lastly, any member of the organization can identify a problem. Even if you aren’t responsible for finding a solution, you should report an issue to the relevant party (e.g., a department manager or a human resources representative). It’s common practice to organize a meeting if there are multiple parties involved.
#2. Insight Collection
Insight collection involves your ability to gather all the relevant information regarding a certain issue. You should be able to take all perspectives into consideration and evaluate various resources to fully understand the topic, problem, or situation.
The different sources that you should access and evaluate range from data and reports to feedback and opinions. By analyzing them and putting the information together, you'll learn important things and come to useful conclusions about the problem.
By showcasing insight collection on your resume, you also demonstrate proficiency in several other decision-making skills, including:
Other Decision Making Skills
Attention to detail
Asking critical questions
On a final note, by making a conscious effort to get all the facts before making a decision, you can also enhance communication between coworkers and boost collaboration by promoting a shared understanding.
#3. Options Evaluation
Evaluating options represents the middle of the road in the decision-making process. It involves your ability to weigh different alternatives and come up with multiple solutions to a problem. Option evaluation requires both critical and creative thinking.
To evaluate options effectively, you need to weigh the pros and cons of every alternative. In essence, you should be able to simultaneously consider various factors such as feasibility, cost, and sustainability. This lets you figure out which solution is most likely to bring about the result you want.
Recruiters love to see these skills on a resume because such abilities help people deal with possible risks, take advantage of success opportunities, and, in the end, make better decisions.
Finding a solution represents the final step in the decision-making procedure. After you've gathered all the facts about a problem and thought about all the possible outcomes, it's time to come up with a workable solution.
To be effective at solution-finding, you often need to take into consideration the various needs and perspectives of other parties, such as stakeholders. That means identifying potential risks and trade-offs, as well as adapting as new information becomes available and pivoting if needed.
Lastly, you should always take into consideration both the short- and long-term impacts of a decision. Moreover, by keeping track of all decisions that you make, you can learn from them, regardless of the outcome, and improve in the future.
#5. Critical Thinking
You've likely noticed how we've mentioned critical thinking several times so far. This is because it’s one of the vital decision-making skills that you’ll lean on almost every step of the way toward making a choice.
Critical thinking gives you the ability to look at, understand, and judge information in an unbiased way so that you can make decisions. This skill is also important for spotting possible biases, logical flaws, or knowledge gaps while analyzing evidence, arguments, and assumptions, as those could hurt the decision-making process.
By showcasing critical thinking skills on your resume, you also represent yourself as a creative and open-minded candidate who has a logical approach to problem-solving.
Let’s see how you could indirectly demonstrate critical thinking on your resume, as well as several other decision-making skills, such as insight collection and option evaluation:
Critical Thinking Skill Example
Analyzed customer feedback and sales data to identify areas for improvement, implementing a new marketing campaign that resulted in a 17% increase in customer acquisition.
We briefly touched on the importance of group decisions and the fact that they are much more commonly used than individual ones. That makes collaboration one of the crucial decision-making skills for your resume, as it highlights your ability to work with others to achieve a common goal.
When it comes to decision-making, collaboration can be useful every step of the way. It can help you gather input from the team, share ideas, examine their perspectives, and use their combined knowledge to come up with the best solution possible.
Individuals with effective collaboration skills can actively listen to others, share information transparently, adjust in light of new facts, and make compromises when needed. As you can see, a lot of collaboration stems from communication, which is another important decision-making skill.
Sharing your ideas and understanding the ideas of others is necessary to make a good collective decision.
Communication allows all team members to be on the same page in the decision-making process. It’s a vital tool when it comes to building consensus and coming to an agreement. Open and honest communication allows individuals to explore each other's viewpoints while working to reach a mutually beneficial solution.
In addition to verbal communication, written and nonverbal communication—such as body language or tone of voice—can be instrumental in decision-making. These skills will allow you to ensure that you’re interpreting messages from others accurately.
7 More Decision-Making Skills to Include in Your Resume
Here are seven more decision-making skills that you should consider adding to your resume:
How to Demonstrate Decision-Making Skills in Your Resume
Many of the decision-making skills aren’t tangible. For example, you’ll rarely run into a job ad that asks for an insight collection skill specifically. However, by familiarizing yourself with relevant skills in the group and knowing which keywords to look for, you’ll be able to create a compelling list of these abilities to include in your resume.
Let’s examine a job ad for a senior executive to look for examples of decision-making skills:
Position: Senior Executive
We are looking for a highly experienced senior executive with exceptional decision-making skills to lead and drive our business forward.
Develop and execute the company’s strategic, long-term plan
Identify trends, opportunities, and risks through data analysis
Collaborate with other executives and stakeholders to make informed decisions
Minimum 10 years of professional experience, preferably in a fast-paced, dynamic environment
Strong analytical and decision-making skills with the ability to analyze complex data
Impeccable interpersonal and communication skills with the ability to build and maintain strong relationships with stakeholders
From this job description, we can tell that recruiters are looking for skills such as insight collection, risk management, data analysis, strategic thinking, communication, and collaboration, among others.
Once you make a list like this, it’s time to add the ones from the list that you actually possess to your resume. There are two ways to go about it, and you should utilize both for optimal chances of success:
Listing all relevant skills in the skills section of your resume
Demonstrating them by adding them next to relevant results and achievements in your resume summary, objective, and work experience section
The trick is to properly substantiate your decision-making skills throughout your resume. You can do that by using numbers to quantify your accomplishments and catchy action verbs and power words to make your abilities pop.
How to Improve Your Decision-Making Skills
You can improve your decision-making skills and boost your employability in many ways. It involves practice and the development of specific habits that can help you make better choices. Here are some tips to improve your decision-making skills:
Take your time. When you’re just starting out, don’t rush your decisions. Instead, analyze all the information, options, and potential outcomes thoroughly.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, decide faster. While this might seem like a contradiction to the previous advice, making decisions quickly will teach you to work under pressure. Moreover, you’ll be able to evaluate previous decisions and learn from them.
Try to narrow down your choices through the process of elimination. More options aren’t always better, so aim to quickly discard everything but a few of the best ones.
Seek feedback and advice from others. You can ask for feedback from colleagues, supervisors, and mentors at work, as well as from friends and family.
Aim to do thorough research on the problem and options available. That will help you come up with all the pros and cons and assess the potential risks and benefits.
Employers value strong decision-making skills a lot—so much so that they can sometimes be the deciding factor in whether or not you get the job. Considering there are studies that show that only some employees excel at decision-making, properly demonstrating this ability on your resume could be one of the best things you could do.
By following all the explanations, guidelines, and tips outlined in this article, you’ll be able to accurately highlight these skills, grab the attention of any recruiters, and increase your chances of getting an interview!