While reviewing job applications, employers seek out traits that prove you're able to provide a valuable contribution to their company. Highlighting key skills and strengths in your resume is important to show that you're a strong candidate, especially as being detail-oriented is a skill that many employers look for. Showcasing detail-oriented skills and continuing to develop this quality throughout your career will ensure you're contributing high-quality work to your company. In this article, we discuss what it means to be detail-oriented, how to develop this skill and how to highlight it in your resume.
What does being detail-oriented mean?
Being detail-oriented means you pay close attention to details and that you're observant, thorough, and productive. A detail-oriented person focuses on the task at hand, working accurately and effectively to completion before moving on to the next project. Having detail-oriented individuals in a company means that work is completed on time with very few errors. This means that managers can spend less time chasing late submissions or correcting errors and can instead focus on their greater responsibilities.
Detail-oriented people are interested in the specifics of a problem, and by seeking to understand the cause and effect of a problem, they are well-equipped to find a solution. This curiosity enables detail-oriented individuals to proactively solve problems and present companies with opportunities for continuous improvement.
Related: A Guide to Soft Skills
Examples of being detail-oriented
Here are a few examples of positive habits that detail-oriented people have:
Proofreading work (multiple times)
Proofreading for typos and errors prior to turning in an important piece of work is common. However, detail-oriented people typically proofread their work multiple times. Everyone has their own way they like to proofread, but the general process should be the same. Check for spelling errors or typos during the first proofread, then re-read again for grammatical mistakes, and read through one last time to check readability and clarity. This thorough approach to proofreading produces high-quality work.
Asking critical questions
When you're learning a new skill or process, it's normal to ask questions in order to understand the information being presented. Detail-oriented people continue to ask critical questions throughout their careers in order to better understand a situation, environment, or problem. Gaining perspective on the full context of a problem means that detail-oriented people can decipher the cause and effect of an issue, leading to more effective problem-solving.
Planning ahead means detail-oriented people have time to prepare for important meetings, interviews, or even a normal day at the office. They consider all eventualities, so when things go wrong, they have a backup plan to cause minimal disruption to their day. This preparation for all eventualities makes detail-oriented people a great asset to the team.
Remembering small details
Detail-oriented people can remember small details thanks to their keen observation skills. They watch carefully to best understand how things work and notice minor details that may otherwise be overlooked. As a result, detail-oriented people offer improvement to policies and processes.
How to become more detail-oriented
While being detail-oriented may come naturally to some people, this is a skill that you can develop with practice. Here are a few tips that, with a little effort, will help you to become more detail-oriented at work:
- Plan your day. Detail-oriented people are very organized. By adding structure to your day, you'll find you spend less time procrastinating or wondering what's next and more time working effectively. Plus, when you plan your day, or even week, in advance, you'll have time to reach out to coworkers if a particular task requires additional input.
- Write things down. Throughout the day, we have many duties, tasks, and minor details to consider. Items on this long list can build up and become easily forgotten if you rely on memory alone. Instead of trying to remember everything yourself, keep a notepad on hand so you can jot down any important thoughts that come up throughout the day. This simple tool will allow you to easily keep track of your to-do list and remember everything.
- Proofread your work. And then proofread it again, and again. Spell-checking and re-reading your work for grammatical errors can feel tedious at first, but when you notice typos and actively re-write work to improve the quality, you'll feel accomplished with the high standard of work produced. Over time, this process will become second nature to you, and your boss will certainly notice.
- Stop multitasking. Detail-oriented people can focus on the minor details because they give the task at hand their undivided attention. When you multitask, you're unable to give a task that same level of attention, and inevitably the quality of your work will deteriorate. So when you find yourself juggling multiple tasks, take a moment to refocus and pick the most urgent task to tackle before moving on to the next.
- Minimize distractions. Of course, it's not always possible to maintain a quiet working environment, especially when working from home. So when you need to focus, put your phone on silent, pause notifications on your desktop, and send a quick message to your colleagues (or family) to let them know not to disturb you for the next hour. Setting boundaries that enable you to work uninterrupted will allow you to focus more on details.
Read more: SMART Goals: Objectives for Your Career
How to highlight your detail-oriented skills during the hiring process
Employers value detail-oriented candidates, and highlighting these skills will show potential employers that you can provide a valuable contribution to their company. Here are a few ways to show your detail-oriented abilities during the hiring process:
How to show detail-oriented skills in a resume or cover letter
Employers often see "detail-oriented" listed as a skill on many resumes. To ensure your application stands out, provide a brief example of how you used your detail-oriented skills in a previous role. In two or three sentences, outline the problem, how you caught the error, and the positive outcome for the business. Hiring managers appreciate specific anecdotes of a candidate demonstrating their skills as it shows them how you can be a valuable asset to their company.
Be sure to proofread your resume, cover letter, and application email before sending it. You'll want to look out for typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors so that your application is an accurate reflection of your detail-oriented nature. Handing in a high-quality resume and cover letter with little to no errors will show potential employers first-hand the high-quality work you're able to produce.
Read more: How to Include Character Traits in a Resume
How to show detail-oriented skills during the job interview
Your high-quality resume and cover letter will improve your chances of being invited for an interview. To show your detail-oriented nature during the interview, plan ahead and start your journey to the office a little earlier than you need in case of traffic, poor weather or other situations that could make you late. Arrive at your interview on time and prepared with a printed copy of your resume and cover letter.
As well as preparing for your journey to the interview, reflect on the questions you might be asked and prepare detailed answers that highlight your strengths. Some examples of detail-oriented interview questions include:
- Are you detail-oriented?
- How do you ensure your work is of a high-quality, particularly when working under a tight deadline?
- What would you do if a client sent a request that you didn't understand?
- Can you tell me about a time that you noticed a minor error that may have been overlooked otherwise?
Come to the interview with examples of how you've shown your detail-oriented nature in previous roles. Employers will want to hear specific, quantifiable examples. So consider a relevant situation, provide context, and describe how your stellar attention to detail solved the problem.