This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach
Creativity is a valuable workplace skill because it can be a useful tool for developing new ideas, increasing efficiency and devising solutions to complex problems. While you may have natural creativity skills in certain forms, it is a skill that can be learned and developed over time. In this article, we discuss what creativity is and how you can take advantage of creativity skills in your day-to-day tasks.
What is creativity?
Creativity is the ability to think about a task or a problem in a new or different way, or the ability to use the imagination to generate new ideas. Creativity enables you to solve complex problems or find interesting ways to approach tasks. If you are creative, you look at things from a unique perspective. You can find patterns and make connections to find opportunities. There is some risk involved with being creative, but you can show you are self-motivated to try things that have not been done before.
Related: Soft Skills: Definition and Examples
Examples of creativity skills
There are several kinds of creative skills that you can practice to become more creative in the workplace. Used in combination, they can be effective in helping you think differently about a problem or a task. They include:
- Making connections
- Asking questions
- Making observations
When you are creative, you find connections between different ideas and use those connections to solve problems. Often these connections happen when you aren’t actively thinking about the problem or task. Something you read or something someone says connects with the problem and you see it in a new way. Being in a different environment or experiencing something for the first time can also create connections that help you view tasks differently.
Being creative sometimes allows you to challenge accepted or conventional wisdom. You may wonder why you do a task a certain way, or why you have to follow specific procedures. There may be times when the reason is no longer relevant, but everyone is used to doing it that way. This allows you to look for better ways to do that task or revise the procedures to make them more relevant.
You can discover fresh ways of doing things by observing the world around you. Watching how people work can inspire you to think of ways to help them be more efficient. The way someone approaches a task might give you ideas of how to help someone else who performs a similar task. Paying close attention to how people use products or services can help you see how well they function, and then you can devise ways to improve them.
When we are creative, we can usually enjoy a diverse company and network with people who are unlike themselves. Being around people from different backgrounds can expose you to new ideas and inspire creative thinking. Talking and working with people who view the world differently can help you gain new perspectives when approaching your work.
Bringing out your creativity may help you experiment. No matter how unusual an idea might be, a creative person is willing to test it and see if it works. They see failure as an opportunity to learn and improve. To develop this skill, keep working on a problem, adjusting and rethinking your ideas until you find a solution.
How to improve creativity skills
There are several activities and exercises you can try that can help improve your creativity. These include:
1. Try the circle challenge
Draw twenty circles then set a stopwatch for thirty seconds. Make each circle into a unique picture before the timer ends. This exercise forces you to think about the same thing in different ways. Repeat it periodically to see how your thoughts change over time.
2. Use a sketchpad
As well as exercising creativity, drawing or writing down ideas can help you process information. If you are listening to a presentation, you could sketch something relevant to what you are hearing. This can help you remember the things being said.
3. Read regularly
Reading is just one way to mentally exercise. Exploring fiction novels, for example, can introduce you to interesting creative concepts such as complex worlds, storylines, puzzles and characters. Another easy way to practice mentally challenging games and puzzles is by using an app on your phone or another mobile device.
Try recording your thoughts in a journal at the end of each day. Writing encourages you to think critically about your daily experiences and ideas. Finding ways to apply critical and analytical thinking is a great way to exercise your mental abilities.
Taking care of your physical and mental health can help put you in an optimal position to practice and apply creative thinking. Adding regular exercise, if even for 20-30 minutes two to three times per week, is one way to be your best self at work.
Creativity skills in the workplace
Some workplaces are creative due to the nature of the industry. Even if your workplace is not a naturally creative environment, there are things you can do to practice creativity:
If you have the opportunity, choose to be on a team of people who are not like you. Surrounding yourself with people who have different perspectives can broaden your own point of view and inspire new ways for you to do your work.
Change your process
Make a change to the way you normally do things. Perhaps there is a particular task you have always done a certain way. Ask yourself why you do it that way. If there is no good reason why, try doing it differently.
Draw your work
Whatever it is you are working on, whether a project, idea or a task, describe it in a picture or a series of pictures. You don’t have to be particularly artistic for this to be a helpful practice.
Change your environment
Changing the space around you can stimulate you to think in fresh ways about your work. This might involve reorganizing your office space or even moving to a different office. If you are limited with how you can rearrange your office space, consider decorating it and then periodically redecorating it. Not only is decorating a creative exercise, but the change can help you think creatively in your work.
Listen to music
If your situation permits, play music while you work. Music helps many people increase their creativity. Even if it doesn’t directly affect your creativity, it can improve your mood, which may put you in a more creative frame of mind.
How to highlight creativity skills
Because creativity is a skill specific to certain industries, try to demonstrate your creative skills during your job search. There are ways you can incorporate your creative nature into every stage of the process, from your resume to interviews. Here are some suggestions for highlighting creativity skills:
Creativity skills for a resume
Communicating your creativity skills on your resume is a good idea no matter the job title, level or industry. You can do so in the bullets under your professional experience section or in a separate skills section. Reread the job description to prioritize relevant skills the employer is looking for. For example, if the job description states that the ideal candidate can quickly solve problems under pressure, consider when you’ve used creative thinking skills to navigate complex issues and come up with solutions to solve them. Here’s an example of using creative skills on a resume in a professional experience bullet point:
- Identified opportunities to reduce waste, improving ordering and vendor relations which resulted in 15% revenue increase
Creative skills listed in a separate skill section might look like this:
- Skills: Creative problem-solving, managing complex client relationships, attention to detail, proficiency with CRM software
Related: How to Make a Resume (With Examples)
Creativity skills for a job interview
In a job interview, listen for behavioral questions that are designed to highlight creative thinking. Here are some examples:
- Tell me about a time when have you had to think creatively to solve a problem.
- Can you give an example of an innovative project assigned to you and how you handled it?
- Describe a time when you took an existing process and improved it.
Before the interview, consider how you might answer questions like these to explain your practical use of creative skills. Consider using the STAR method to address behavioral questions like these. Be sure to use specific examples and emphasize how the company benefited from your solutions.