Active Listening Skills for the Resume (+ Examples)

active listening skills

Active listening skills are becoming one of the most sought after soft skills in the workplace. Why? Because it allows efficient collaboration between team members and provides a bridge of respect between your colleagues

Listening is not often thought of as a skill. But it is. In fact, many of the top CEO’s and leaders in the U.S. receive executive coaching where they learn to hone in on their active listening abilities.

So what is active listening? And how do you tell an employer that you have these skills? And how do you speak to these skills during your interview?

There are a lot of questions that you might have as a job seeker. Those questions and more will be answered in this writeup.

Before digging into understanding how to tell your employer about your skills, it’s critical that you understand the difference between listening and active listening.

What is the Difference Between Listening and Active Listening?

Listening is the act of hearing someone. You might be listening to someone when you’re talking on the phone, in a casual manner. Your attention might be spread between the phone discussion you are having and potentially cooking yourself dinner.

You are still listening to the other person on the phone. And you are hearing what they have to say while being able to respond to it.

The biggest misconception about active listening versus listening is that it makes us feel as though regular “listening” doesn’t pay attention to the speaker. That isn’t true.

Active listening, is the process of trying to comprehend a concept, idea, or notion that another party is trying to express to you. Active listening is a skill that’s best used when two people are engaged in a conversation where there are no clear directives.

For example, a philosophical discussion, would require a heavy amount of active listening. Because as one party speaks, it would require the other party to go beyond simply what the other person said, and dive deep into the meaning of the communication rather than the communication itself.

In short, active listening is the process of focusing on the other party. And doing so during moments where clarity might not exist in the conversation.

Why is Active Listening Important to Employers?

Employers want to challenge their employees to drive business results forward. And during that process, you often have to engage in thoughtful, conceptual discussion. And active listening is the only way to ensure that team members are working together in a unified vision.

The more that active listening becomes part of the process, the more opportunity it is for ideas to be turned into reality. And that can be beneficial for the business because it allows for innovation, improvement, and success.

Active Listening as a Process (Examples of Active Listening)

The process of active listening is important to comprehend. Your future employer won’t just want to know that you have “active listening skills”. Listing them on your resume alone, for example, won’t cut it.

You’ll need to be able to speak to how you actively listen. The basics of this process are:

Asking questions

When someone is communicating, the process of asking questions to better understand and round-out your understanding and comprehension of what the other party is trying to verbally describe to you.

Repeating back the concept

Repeating the concept back to the other person to have them confirm that you comprehend what they’re attempting to communicate to you is a key part of active listening.

Taking time to think about what they said

If you aren’t taking the time to repeat in your mind the words that were spoken by the other party, then you aren’t providing enough time for active listening to occur. The need to respond quickly is one that is part of regular listening, not active listening. Taking your time and responding when you absorb all of the information the other party mentioned to you is part of active listening.

Observing the other parties emotions or feelings

Understanding how the conversation is being emphasized can be a key indicator of what is trying to be discussed. Is it a point of stress? A point of friction? Happiness? Or something else? Observe the other parties body language queues.

Vocal tone

A part of the observation process but listening to how someone is speaking. Is their voice raising? Is it sounding like it was spoken with a slow demeanor? The act of listening to the vocal tone can be helpful in deterring what might be causing the communication to occur.

Reaching consensus

The process of reaching a point where you can move past the discussion is part of active listening. Either you repeating or promoting a resolution to the discussion after you’ve clearly comprehended it. This will cause reaching consensus. And asking the other party if they feel the direction is a positive one.

Managing expectations

During an active listening conversation, ensuring that the other party has a firm understanding of potential outcomes. Outcomes that are big or small. This helps the other party feel resolved as well as mitigates future conflict.

Providing affirmation

The notion that you are confirming to the other party that you are doing your best to understand the concept they are describing to you and affirming that you are listening is a key indicator to active listening.

Providing eye contact and body language support

Making eye contact, not being distracted, not folding your arms or feeling uncomfortable. These are all ways to show that you are actively listening to the other party.

It’s imperative that you understand these concepts as they apply to active listening. Why? Because your employer will ask you how to practice active listening and these are what you may want to bring up as your methods for performing it

How to Show Your Employer Active Listening Skills

Listing “active listening skills” under the skills section of your resume won’t be enough. Employers read skills sections of resumes but they often don’t believe them. And rightfully so.

The method normally taken by job seekers to confirm soft skills is to express previous business scenarios where you were able to use these soft skills.

But with active listening, describing a story or business scenario where you practiced it is going to be difficult.

The best way to show your employer that you have active listening skills is to practice is upon the interviewer when you interview with them.

If the interviewer is asking you questions that you don’t fully understand. Or want to get clarity on the ask in order to answer properly, spend the time to go through the active listening process described above.

For example, don’t shy away from asking the interviewer a clarifying question before you answer the original interview question they gave you.

The interviewer won’t look at that as a negative thing. They won’t interpret that practice as you not answering their questions. They should appreciate the fact that you are spending the time to understand what their desired answer looks like in order to provide it for them.

There’s no better way to show active listening skills than to do that.

Active listening is a key part of being a great employee and having the opportunity to become a great leader. If you perform this function on your manager, you might find that you learn more from them. Absorb more concepts. Learn more about the business. And be able to more appropriately act when the time is right. This provides you the opportunity to be more performance-based with your work. And that’s great for both you and the business.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur,, SparkHire, and many more.


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