Useful Creative Thinking Skills: Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 20, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Developing creative thinking skills is essential in a variety of professions and workplaces. Creative thinkers can approach situations from a unique perspective and develop innovative solutions. Learning about creative thinking can help you develop your skills and stand out during interview processes, on your resume, and on your cover letter. In this article, we explain what creative thinking skills are, review some examples, examine how to improve creative thinking, discuss creative thinking at work, and explore highlighting your skills.

What are creative thinking skills?

An individual with creative thinking skills possesses a variety of capabilities, including analytical skills, open-mindedness, problem-solving abilities, organizational abilities, and communication abilities. You can stimulate creative thinking by brainstorming, using drawing techniques such as mind-mapping, and by playing role-playing games. Developing your creative thinking abilities can lead to several benefits, including the ability to solve problems more effectively, and the ability to understand other people's perspectives. Taking a creative approach at work may mean finding better ways to communicate, improving your working practices, or developing and implementing new ideas.

Here are a few examples of using creative thinking:

  • creating branding materials, such as logos, webpage layouts, and posters

  • developing lesson plans for a group training program

  • starting a journal, a blog, or a social media account

  • designing a quiz or test

  • brainstorming ideas for home décor and renovation projects

  • enhancing the quality of a product or service

Related: 7 Steps to Improve Your Creative Thinking Skills

Examples of creative thinking skills

Here are a few examples of creative thinking skills:

Open-mindedness

An open-minded person is receptive to different ideas, views, and perspectives that differ from their own. Being open-minded involves actively examining the information presented and not forming judgments before fully understanding what a person, such as a colleague, is expressing. Open-minded people are more likely to understand their colleagues' perspectives, foster dialogue, and work together more effectively.

Related: 10 Interview Questions About Creativity (With Examples)

Lateral thinking

By using lateral thinking, individuals can solve realistic challenges more easily and systematically. Using lateral thinking means finding an indirect approach to solving a problem through reasoning or non-traditional logic. An important characteristic of lateral thinking is the ability to take an objective view and consider solutions or approaches that may not be immediately apparent.

Related: What Is Lateral Thinking? (With Interview Preparation Tips)

Active listening

An active listening approach involves giving your full attention to what someone is saying, interpreting their intent, understanding their position, and creating a positive environment for further discussion. By creating a deeper level of understanding, both parties can have a more creative and dynamic discussion. Active listening can help you gain a deeper understanding of a topic and find creative ways of accommodating all the participants in a conversation.

Collaborative thinking

Collaboration involves the integration of several unique skills. Creative thinkers can use alternative approaches to make the collaborative process more effective while also ensuring everyone on the team can contribute. Collaborators can also create a safe environment in which everyone can contribute by supporting each other's work. The application of collaborative and creative thinking can have a significant impact on job satisfaction, interpersonal relationships, and group performance.

Related: Creativity in Leadership (With Importance and Strategies)

Problem solving

A creative approach to solving problems can lead to the development of innovative solutions. Innovative problem-solvers can find new solutions rather than identifying and implementing existing practices. As an example, you may use creative problem-solving to devise a unique litigation strategy to defend a client or brainstorm effective ways to reduce energy consumption. Companies may seek to recruit creative employees who can assist them in resolving work-related problems. Problem-solvers typically look for ways to solve problems before asking for help. People who have problem-solving skills may propose solutions rather than presenting their issues to a manager.

How to improve creative thinking skills

The following are a few ways you can improve your creative thinking abilities:

1. Brainstorm

During brainstorming, people are free to express their thoughts and ideas without restrictions or prejudice. Individual brainstorming and group brainstorming are both effective methods of brainstorming. In individual brainstorming, you work independently without a group. Individual brainstorming is useful for solving simple problems. Group brainstorming involves exchanging ideas in a group to further develop ideas. A group brainstorming session is an effective method for establishing unique ideas and solving complex problems.

Related: 20 Creative Project Ideas to Stimulate Your Imagination

2. Create mind maps

Mind maps are graphical tools that include a collection of information centred around a central theme that is presented visually rather than verbally. A mind map can enhance your creativity because it allows you to focus on a concept or topic in an organized manner and on its most specific aspects. You can also maximize the effectiveness of your idea generation process by using mind maps. Mind maps can be useful for drafting presentations, planning marketing campaigns, and planning content strategies.

Related: 16 Mind Map Examples (With Definition and Benefits)

3. Focus on hobbies

Consider exercising your creativity through a current hobby or by developing a new one. A creative hobby such as painting, drawing, sculpture, or sewing can stimulate your creativity. A more scientifically inclined individual may pursue technical hobbies such as designing, building, and writing. There are also certain games and puzzles that can provide you with plenty of opportunities to exercise your creativity. As an example, you may enjoy playing chess or checkers, or you may enjoy taking part in more physical games such as soccer, basketball, or tennis.

Related: Creativity vs. Innovation (With Differences and Importance)

4. Make mood boards

Mood boards are collections of images, fonts, icons, and colours that express a particular theme or style. Using mood boards can assist you in the development of brand designs, product designs, and websites. A mood board can serve many purposes, including organizing inspiration related to a project. For example, you may use mood boards to help you maintain a consistent aesthetic and style for a remodel that tailors to a client's preferences.

Related: 10 Interview Questions to Get You Thinking Outside the Box

Creative thinking skills in the workplace

A creative approach to communication can enhance its effectiveness. The ability to think creatively can assist you with resolving conflicts at work and can create lasting improvements in how you converse and work with your colleagues. A more creative approach to problem-solving at work can also contribute to a better work-life balance. Individuals who think creatively can develop approaches that reflect their personality traits, which can make them more confident in performing tasks.

Related: How to Promote Creativity at Work (With Its Benefits)

How to highlight creative thinking skills

Here are various ways to highlight your creative thinking abilities on a resume, on a cover letter, and at a job interview:

Creative thinking skills on a resume

Employees who think creatively can bring an original perspective to the workplace in many industries. There are various sections on your resume in which you can showcase your creative thinking capabilities. For example, you may use your professional summary to express how you value creative thinking, or your experience section to describe how creative thinking helped you achieve your career goals. To demonstrate your creative thinking on your resume, you may provide examples of innovative ideas you developed at work that led to resolving complex situations.

Related: Improve Your Creativity Skills to Highlight on Your Resume

Creative thinking skills on a cover letter

When you apply for a job, it's important to think about how your creative thinking benefited you in the past, and how it can benefit you in your future position. Consider including keywords that show your creativity in your cover letters, such as problem-solving, collaboration, open-mindedness, or creativity. Provide a couple of specific examples in your cover letter of when your creative thinking has been valuable to your employer. As an example, you may have discovered a way to save your department money, or you may have developed a new filing system that has increased efficiency.

Creative thinking skills for a job interview

Interviewers may ask you to provide examples of situations in which you applied your creative thinking abilities. Your interviewer may question you about your creative thinking to determine how you can apply it to the workplace. Responding to questions about your creative thinking abilities can help the interviewer gain a deeper understanding of your abilities. Analyzing your creative thinking in previous positions can help interviewers predict your future performance as an employee. The answers you provide during a job interview may persuade the interviewer that you're a suitable candidate for the position.

Explore more articles