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Why Is Attention To Detail Important When Completing Work Assignments

Attention to detail is the ability to achieve thoroughness and accuracy when accomplishing a task. As many employers seek this skill, it is not surprising to see many students list on their resume that they have ‘strong attention to detail’. However when asked how they can demonstrate this skill, many are unable to answer.

How can you demonstrate and develop your attention to detail? Here are some tips.

1. Provide examples

When you are asked about your strong attention to detail, provide examples of when you have demonstrated it. Don’t worry if you don’t have previous work experience relevant to your field. Even at University, you probably would have been involved in a project or had to submit an assignment where strong attention to detail was required. Similarly, you may have a casual retail job where you may be responsible for handling high volumes of cash and your attention to detail has helped you to find discrepancies.

Giving examples show that you know what you are talking about and prove that you have experience in this skill. Being able to provide examples of your attention to detail will tell potential and current employers that you can add value to an organisation; this makes you more employable.

2. Check your work

If, for example, you have written on your resume that you have good attention to detail but your resume is full of spelling and/or grammatical errors, it only shows that you do not have good attention to detail.

Similarly, if you are in an internship and you submit any work with a lot of mistakes, this will not demonstrate good attention to detail. Read and re-read your work before submitting it to your consultant/supervisor to avoid errors.

3. Don’t forget the small details

Create a checklist or calendar to ensure that even the smallest of details aren’t overlooked and that you complete tasks on time. When taking messages for your supervisor or colleagues, write down important details such as the name, time of call and person’s contact details, and pass this information on straight away so that details are not lost or forgotten.

The skill of having strong attention to detail shows up in various aspects. In the end, it is about being thorough and accurate with the work you do, and is a worthy skill to develop so you can achieve career success.

As a manager, my job is to enable my team members to do their best work, but also to serve as a final checkpoint for quality before that work makes it out into the world. As such, I’ve developed a few systems for spot-checking attention to detail, which makes me either more or less confident in the work I’m reviewing. Pass the test, and the work gets my stamp of approval. Fail the test, and I’ll be digging in to a lot more detail to make sure it’s up to snuff.

I’ve listed out some of my quick spot-checks below so that you can catch those mistakes before your boss does—and keep impressing your colleagues with your unparalleled attention to detail.

1. Check for Accuracy

Do you work with numbers? Before sending any breakdown of analytics to colleagues, make sure your numbers tie. Test that your totals are accurately summed (a common mistake is having a breakdown that should sum to 100% that is over or under because of rounding), and that any metric you use across the document is always consistent. While you’re at it, include the source (when relevant), and you’ll stand out as a detail-oriented, reliable employee.

2. Check for Consistency

One way of checking if someone has paid attention, edited his or her own work, and maintained a high standard of quality is by checking for consistency. Are all of your bullets formatted in the same way (including all ending with the same punctuation, or lack thereof)? Do you use the same capitalization method for all of the section headers in your document? Do you spell out “percentage” or use the % sign? One inconsistency isn’t the end of the world, of course, but having several in one document can give off the impression that you’re not paying attention or you’re generally haphazard.

This tip applies to job seekers, too: Make sure your resume has consistent content and formatting rules throughout!

3. Check for Completion

Oftentimes, a document or email reply from one of my employees is the result of a complex ask; there may be several sections or a long list of questions I was looking to have answered. In those cases, I check to make sure that every section or question is accounted for. If anything is missing entirely, I know I need to get ready to roll up my sleeves and dig into the work, because it is likely to be incomplete.

The lesson: Before sending off a work product, make sure to check for completion. It’s OK to say: “Part 1, 2, and 4 are below—I’ll be following up with Part 3 by EOD”—just make sure you don’t forget to mention Part 3 at all. You’ll look organized and on top of things instead of forgetful and sloppy.

Bonus: This isn’t a spot-checking tip, but make sure you’re not making the #1 rookie attention to detail mistake: typos. It happens more often that you’d think, and impacts how your manager and clients think about you. Run your work through spell check at a minimum, and if it’s important, print it out and review it on paper.

I’d also recommend this quick trick by Muse editor-at-large Adrian Granzella Larssen: Read your work backward. Seeing your words in a different order can help you more easily identify errors.

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