What Does it Mean to Be Detail Oriented

Details Help You See the Big Picture

Employers look for job seekers who are detail oriented. Learn what it means and how to demonstrate your skills. Develop good habits to become organized and focused.

You're exploring job opportunities and see that many employers seek candidates who are "detail oriented." In fact, more than 62 percent of employers surveyed listed this as an important attribute they're looking for. What exactly does it mean to be detail oriented? Are certain people just naturally organized, or can you develop the skills you need? As a working mom, you already know how important it is to pay attention to details and successfully juggle multiple tasks.

Build Good Habits

Some people make organization and attention to detail seem effortless. They weren't born with a special talent. They learned and developed good habits that help them be successful in their professional and personal lives. Practice these strategies regularly, and you're on your way to becoming more organized and detail oriented:

  • Start your day with a plan: Spend the first 15 minutes of your day getting organized. Check your calendar, review your to-do list and mentally run through your goals for the day.
  • Write it down: Keep one notebook to record your thoughts, ideas, meeting notes and other information you want to remember. Start a new page every day with the date on top. It's easy to refer back when everything is in one place.
  • Create an "action" area: This can be an area of your desk at work or a designated spot at home. It's where you'll have everything you need to complete your current project.
  • De-clutter at the end of every day: Take a few minutes to prepare your workspace for the next day. Put away supplies, file papers and toss unwanted items. De-cluttering is a daunting process if you haven't done it for a while, so do a little at a time until your workspace is clear. Then, with daily maintenance, it's easy to keep it clutter-free.

Demonstrate Attention to Detail on a Resume

Employers get lots of resumes from job seekers who list "detail oriented" as a skill. The phrase does not mean much without example. You have to show, not just tell. The first example is the resume itself. It must be well-organized and concise. Make sure there are no typos or grammar and punctuation mistakes. Next, highlight aspects of your work history in which your attention to detail was an asset. Briefly describe any proofreading and editing experience, proficiency with numbers, knowledge of policies and procedures and precision with design or technology.

Talk About Being Detail Oriented in a Job Interview

If a potential employer asks if you're detail oriented and you respond with a simple "yes," you aren't offering any evidence to back up your claim. Instead, provide a specific example such as, "By being detail oriented in my present position, I helped my team find inventory discrepancies, and we were able to save eight percent of projected revenue."

Here's another example. Rather than merely stating that you made travel arrangements for your boss, you could explain the process: "I listened and took notes as my supervisor explained what she needed. I read my notes back to her to make sure I hadn't missed anything. I made the arrangements, then scheduled a brief meeting to get her approval and find out if she needed any changes. When I finalized arrangements, I sent her a confirmation email with details of her itinerary."

Can You Be Too Detail Oriented?

Yes! If you're too caught up in the details to see the big picture, it might be time to step back a little for a clearer view. Do you pride yourself on being a perfectionist? That can be a waste of time if the quest for perfection keeps you from moving on to the next task. Your co-workers won't appreciate it if you're continually finding fault or stepping in to do their jobs "to make sure things are done right." Do your best and let it go.

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