Tag Archives: Critical thinking

Employers Desperate for Soft Skills, Critical Thinking … Job Hopping Common but Not Necessarily Wise … College Major Affects Earnings … 5 Habits Leaders Practice

Employers Desperate for Soft Skills, Critical Thinking

 Communicating clearly, collaborating well, taking initiative, and problem solving are in dangerously short supply, employers say. Candidates who can demonstrate these qualities will have a leg up on the competition.

nov2016_shutterstock_75231556As more industries move toward automation, the need for people who can do what machines cannot—chit-chat with customers, organize complex projects, work well in teams—has amped up.

The most valued trait, according to a LinkedIn analysis? The ability to communicate. Other qualities in demand include organization, punctuality, critical thinking, and adaptability. One employer summed up the situation thus: “I can teach somebody to slice and dice onions. I can teach somebody to cook a soup. But it’s hard to teach someone normal manners …  and work ethic.”

                                                                                           –From The Wall Street Journal

Job Hopping Common but Not Necessarily Wise

In today’s workplace, one-fourth of employees have held five or more jobs. However, a recent CareerBuilder study found that 43 percent of employers will not look at candidates with short job tenure.

Job hopping is viewed differently by various industries. For example, in the technology sector, frequent job changes are not deal killers. However, in more traditional fields and within firms having longer histories, job hopping is viewed negatively.

The survey also noted that younger employees have more latitude with job tenure. An older worker with a résumé showing frequent job changing can lead a future employer to worry about why the individual cannot seem to hold on to a job. The same cannot be said for younger employees.

In recent decades, staying at a job for a minimum of five years was the norm. However, today’s workers should stick out jobs—even those in which they are unhappy—for a minimum of two years, recruiters advise.

–From The Washington Post

 College Major Affects Earnings

oct_new_shutterstock_387199258The value of a college education in today’s workplace cannot be denied. However, new research illustrates that college students’ majors greatly affect their future earnings.

A report produced by Georgetown University’s Center on Education found that engineers—one of the STEM majors—top the list of earners. However, simply choosing a major in STEM fields alone does not guarantee an individual top-paying positions. Many fields require workers to earn graduate degrees to see a significant boost in earnings.

Likewise, the research showed a wide range in salary within typically high-paying fields. While many finance majors earn in excess of $100,000 annually, 25 percent bring in $50,000. –From Fast Company

While it’s true that college major may dictate future earnings, experts caution students to think hard about entering a field for which they do not possess the skill set required to succeed in those fields.

                                                                                             —From The Wall Street Journal

 5 Habits Leaders Practice

oct_shutterstock_342217274It’s commonly known that leaders are self-aware and admit their mistakes. Those who excel also practice these five habits:

  1. Keeping their eye on a goal. Whether playing golf or chatting during a business dinner, successful leaders always know what they want out of every situation.
  2. Looking to improve constantly. Leaders feel comfortable asking questions to get to the root of a problem, even if the problem comes as a result of something they’ve said or done.
  3. Taking care of themselves. From exercising to reading for pleasure to meditating, leaders understand that life is more than work.
  4. Showing generosity. Strong leaders give praise and recognition easily and cultivate their team members.
  5. Paying it forward. Peers, friends, family, community—leaders build connections everywhere they go.

–From Fast Company


Critical Thinking Case Study: Is Amazon.com a Jungle?

A recent article in The New York Times exposed harsh working conditions for white-collar employees at global e-retailer Amazon.com. Current and former “Amazonians” called the company’s pace relentless and said they were encouraged to tear apart coworkers’ ideas in meetings. Likewise, they told of approved systems to sabotage colleagues and working long and late hours—all to service standards the company itself labels “unreasonably high.”

The article quoted one employee who said it was commonplace to see workers crumbled at their desks in tears. Another said the yearly purge of management “losers” kept employees in a constant state of high pressure Amazon owner Jeff Bezos expected.amazon

The article noted that those who are successful are rewarded with Amazon stock options that can make them wealthy. However, others who are unlucky enough to have a personal problem such as cancer or a miscarriage are pushed out.

Amazon’s grueling pace has been in the news before, especially about its fulfillment centers, where blue-collar workers have complained of Dickensian working conditions. It has been reported that the physical work there is compounded by the non-stop stress of being monitored for productivity.

These complaints from both white- and blue-collar workers come from a company ethos that is dedicated to the consumer; in fact, Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles lists its No. 1 goal as “customer obsession.” Leaders “work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust.”

In response to The New York Times article, Jeff Bezos said he did not recognize the company the reporter described, and other employees have come forward to praise the corporate culture in which workers are “dedicated and excited to go the extra mile.” Likewise, Bezos says he doesn’t tolerate “callous management practices” and claims that he himself would not work at Amazon if the conditions were as bad as the article depicts.
Classroom Exercise

In teams, discuss the following questions. You can read the article from The New York Times and the rebuttal written by an 18-month Amazon employee Nick Ciubotariu at the links below.

New York Times Article
Rebuttal to New York Times Article

  1. What do you think about a corporate culture that encourages employees to put the customer before all else? Would you like working in such conditions?
  1. The white-collar workers hired at Amazon are aware of its work ethos. Do you think they should complain about their employer? Why or why not?
  1. How do you feel about making purchases through Amazon.com in light of the claims being made about its harsh working conditions?

It’s Critical–Employers Want Critical Thinkers


The phrase “critical thinking” permeates job postings. In fact, the number of times “critical thinking” has appeared in job ads has doubled since 2009. But employers are complaining that colleges are not producing graduates who possess the skill.

The reasons? Richard Arum, a New York University professor and co-author of Academically Adrift, claims colleges are requiring less academic rigor of their students. Add to that the steady decrease in the number of hours students devote to studying as well as the fact that many graduate without ever having to write papers that require in-depth thinking combine to create poor critical thinking skills.

The upshot is that hiring managers say that nearly half of the graduates they see can memorize and spit back information but cannot connect the dots between what they have learned and its application in the workplace. The half who can make those leaps have a hard time illustrating their abilities to future employers.

That’s because critical thinking looks different to individual employers, says Linda Elder, educational psychologist and president of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. She explains that an entry-level job posting may include the omnipresent “must possess critical thinking skills.” However, in many lower-echelon jobs, bosses may not be looking for challengers of the status quo, a typical characteristic of critical thinkers. At other organizations, however, even entry-level hires are expected to recommend changes. Because employers define critical thinking differently, it can be hard for new hires to show that they can do it.

So just how can new graduates present their critical thinking abilities to a future employer?

Experts say when interviewing, candidates should relate stories that describe specifics about their ability to analyze a problem, determine the accuracy of information, use judgment to make decisions, and draw conclusions, all part of the definition of critical thinking. Such illustrations may come from a student’s involvement in club activities or even from a part-time job.

New graduates should likewise be prepared to answer open-ended prompts such as “Talk about how you handled a difficult situation.” This type of question is designed to help employers assess a candidate’s critical thinking skills early in the interview process. In late-round sessions, candidates may be asked to actually apply those skills to a particular business problem. Goldman Sachs, for example, asks its sales candidates to assess a company stock pitch and explain the process by which they came to their conclusions.

In the end, employers’ definitions of critical thinking may vary—but their desire for workers with the ability remains remarkably consistent.


How do you help mold critical thinkers in your classroom? Share your experiences!


Source: Korn, M. (2014, Oct. 21). Bosses seek ‘critical thinking,’ but what is that? Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com