In an increasingly complex world, it’s becoming more and more important to pay attention to detail. If you don’t, you may find your carelessness becomes career limiting, and the sad thing is, you’ll probably never know it.
We’re currently advertising for a position in our company and it falls on me to assess every CV that comes in from would-be employees.
It’s a sobering exercise doing this. Just about every candidate tells me they are perfect for the job although, judging by the disconnect between their experience and skills, one wonders how they arrived at that conclusion.
They also all, to a person, tell me that they are “hard working”, “honest”, “creative” and “ambitious”. Oh, and they all can work well on their own or in a team … so they say.
Sadly reality proves most of them wrong when they’re hired and put to the test.
This past week, I received an application from someone who proudly announced in their CV that they have done “profreading” for “two “moths”. I kid you not. I don’t know whether that was one mistake or two mistakes. If it were meant to read “proofreading” for “two months”, that’s two mistakes in one sentence – the sentence in which you’re bragging about your ability to proofread.
If however it was referring to the First and Second World War Veterans Association, the Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTH for short and referred to as MOTHS, for those of you under 50 who have never heard of them), it would be only one mistake. There are probably not many such veterans active in business today so their “profreading” requirements are probably negligible. But I digress …
If you aren’t able to “profread” your own CV, what does that say about your proofreading skills? And do you really expect a prospective employer to take you seriously?
People simply don’t realise the impact that a lack of attention to detail has on their goals and ambitions.
Before you “tut, tut,” at the above points, ask yourself how good you are at paying attention to detail. If you’re heavily into multitasking (who isn’t?), you’re a prime candidate for making such silly mistakes. The way to overcome this is to – very obviously – pay attention to details. If that’s not obvious enough, let me rephrase it: what ever you’re working on at any time, treat it as the most important thing you’ve ever done. Why? Because it IS!
If you adopt this approach to everything you do, you will up your accuracy rate because you will make sure that the most important thing you’re doing (the thing you’re doing right now) gets all your attention, and will be done properly.
Just the slightest slip, like typing in one wrong letter in an e-mail address, can have all sorts of unintended consequences. You’ve probably heard the story about the Illinois man who left the freezing streets of Chicago for a holiday in Florida. His wife was on a business trip and was planning to meet him there the next day. When he reached his hotel, he decided to send his wife a quick e-mail but couldn’t remember her new email address. He did his best to type it in from memory. Unfortunately, he missed one letter, and his email went instead to an elderly preacher’s wife, whose husband had passed away only the day before. When the grieving widow checked her e-mail, she took one look at her pc’s monitor, let out a piercing shriek, and fell to the floor in a dead faint. Her family, hearing her scream, rushed into the room and read the email on the screen. This is what it said:
Just got checked in!
Everything’s ready for your arrival tomorrow.
Your eternally loving husband
P.S. Sure is hot down here.
So, make a point of paying more attention to detail. It will say something about the quality of your work and the quality of person you are.
Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery so that they can live and lead with greatness.