Deductive reasoning, or deductive logic, is the use of general ideas, assumed to be true, to reach a specific conclusion. Some people call this top-down thinking.
If you ever used the transitive property in eighth-grade algebra class, then you’ve employed deductive reasoning.
That property goes like this:
If A = B and B = C, then A = C
Basically, if premise one is true and premise two is true, then we can make a conclusion about a larger truth.
A few examples of deductive reasoning
Deductive reasoning happens all the time. We all do it with varying degrees of success. Here are a few examples of deductive logic in action.
Premise 1: The cleaning staff cleans out the fridge every Friday.
Premise 2: I left my leftovers in the fridge when I left work for the weekend.
Conclusion: The cleaning staff threw out my lunch.
That’s a bummer. How about this one:
Premise 1: My boss always brings bagels on Friday.
Premise 2: It’s Friday (TGIF).
Conclusion: My boss will bring bagels this morning.
Whew. That’s better.
What’s the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning?
Inductive reasoning, or inductive logic, is the opposite of deductive reasoning. It uses specific observations to make larger generalizations. This is sometimes called bottom-up thinking.
For example, you might see this statement:
Eighty-seven percent of women support employer-paid maternity leave.
The people who conducted that survey (who sound brilliant, by the way) couldn’t possibly ask every woman on earth that question, but they could ask 8,000 women. Based on what those 8,000 women said, they were able to make a generalization about women. Inductive reasoning.
Why deductive reasoning is important in the workplace
Companies want employees who are good thinkers and good problem solvers. People who can think logically are better able to see problems before they arise, they have better interpersonal skills, are better empathizers, and better leaders. Mastering deductive logic can help you navigate workplace culture and even climb the career ladder.
How to illustrate deductive reasoning on your resume or cover letter
Deductive reasoning is one of those “soft skills” that employers want to see, but honestly, it’s pretty difficult to illustrate on a resume. Writing “good at deductive logic” just sounds like fluff. You’ll need to show rather than tell.
Here’s how you can communicate your deductive reasoning skills to a potential employer.
Share an anecdote about a problem you solved: I improved overall client satisfaction score by 15 percent by surveying the 10 most satisfied and 10 least satisfied clients and using the findings to build a client happiness program.
Show you were able to scale a solution: Was promoted from team lead to department manager, applauded for my ability to efficiently streamline the product design process.
Talk about a process you designed: My project management design was so successful, I was asked to tailor it to three other organizations within the company.