What It Actually Means to Be Detail-Oriented

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

What It Actually Means to Be Detail-Oriented

BY DANIELLE DOOLEN

BY DANIELLE DOOLEN

March 30, 2020

Detail-oriented: a skill you’ve likely used to describe yourself on your resume or in a job interview at one point or another.

While it’s a commendable attribute to add to your arsenal of skills, what does it actually mean? 

WHAT DOES IT ACTUALLY MEAN TO BE DETAIL-ORIENTED?

A detail-oriented person exercises extreme attention to detail. They’re thorough, accurate, organized, and productive. They seek to understand both the cause and effect of a situation.

So, detail-oriented people focus on the details and pay extra close attention to the little things, but that sounds a bit high-level to be a quality an employer can’t live without, right? We’re breaking down what detail-oriented skills people have, so you can highlight them the next time you’re asked to get specific in a job interview.

THEY REMEMBER THE LITTLE THINGS.

Details. Details. Details. Meaning they remember things above and beyond the norm. They actually remember people’s names after being introduced and they don’t forget birthdays, let alone deadlines (no matter how big or small). Coworkers and friends can count on them to be the group’s documentarian.

What happens if you want to remember the deets, but know you’re too forgetful? Not a problem! Acknowledging that you’re not the best at remembering is half the battle. Use tips like taking thorough notes in meetings (handwritten or digital), setting reminders in your phone, and adding important dates and information to your calendar to guarantee you don’t forget.

Being detail-oriented can also have it’s downfall if you get lost or overwhelmed in the details. Understand if this is an issue for you and make conscious efforts to pick your head up every so often as to not get completely sucked into the minutiae. Again, knowing how you work can mitigate this setback and help you keep the big picture in mind.

THEY PROOFREAD (MULTIPLE TIMES).

It’s common practice to proofread your work before you turn it over to your boss or even an email before you send it to a friend. But for those that are detail-oriented, proofreading isn’t a one and done kind of deal. For them, it’s common practice to complete their work, put it down and come back to it a few minutes to a few days later. Then, reread it and check it over for typos and grammatical errors, put it down again, check it for context and completion, and repeat. Doing this again and again until they arrive at a product they feel good about.

Proofreading multiple times ensures you’re representing your best self before you hit send on that email and that you’ve put your best work forward before your big presentation. It can also help avoid embarrassing mishaps down the road.

THEY’RE A GRAMMAR GEEK.

They cringe when someone misuses their, there, and they’re or maybe they identify as an Oxford comma enthusiast. Just because something sounds OK, doesn’t mean it’s grammatically correct. Detail-oriented people take the time to ensure everything they write adheres to proper structure and syntax. They always want to put their best foot forward. This goes hand-in-hand with proofreading.

THEY ASK CRITICAL QUESTIONS (AND A LOT OF THEM).

Asking questions ensures they fully understand whatever it is they’re doing. They don’t go into projects blind or assuming anything. They ask probing questions to gain a complete understanding of what it is they’re trying to accomplish, why they’re working towards that goal and everything else in between. Having an analytical mind ensures that they don’t let any details slip through the cracks.

Some may mistake their numerous, detailed questions as a trait of a perfectionist, which can be the case, but not always. Accuracy can be misinterpreted as perfection. If you’re detail-oriented, don’t let the fear of appearing as a perfectionist keep you from doing quality work.

THEY PICK UP ON BODY LANGUAGE AND SOCIAL CUES.

The details don’t always lie in physical work products, they’re also found in the way we speak and carry ourselves. This means that by paying attention to someone’s stance, tone of voice, or emotions, you can pick up on major cues about how you should interact with them. If someone appears stressed and is short with you, it’s likely not the best day to have a conversation about that promotion you are hoping to snag.

Detail-oriented people are insanely observant and can sense moods of those around them by acknowledging their body language, and those cues become even stronger once they speak. Knowing when and what to say at the right times and when to be empathetic is to your benefit.

THEY’RE INSANELY ORGANIZED.

They live by their planner or their Google calendar. Their to-do list is likely color-coded and their bookshelf alphabetized. A key detail-oriented skill is organization. Establishing a fool-proof system that works is essential to a high-efficiency work and personal life. Strong organization sets a great example for your team at work and your friends and it shows them that you mean business. Keeping things in order ensures less stress, a greater sense of control, and sets you up for success.

THEY’RE ALWAYS PREPARED.

Planning is the name of the game and they play to win. They come to meetings prepared, they plan ahead for projects, and they establish reasonable timelines. Detail-oriented people understand that planning sets themselves and their team up for success. Identifying potential roadblocks, doing the necessary research, and establishing a strategy before diving into a task or project helps to eliminate issues on the backend and ensure a smoother overall process.

THEY MAY GET MISTAKEN AS A MICROMANAGER.

Others may understand crazy their attention-to-detail, but they may not like it when that hyper-focus falls on them. If you’re a manager or a leader of a team and you point out little details and flaws in other people’s work, they may be taken aback by your “pickiness” and accuse you of being a micromanager.

Micromanagers want to be cc’ed on every email, ask for constant updates, and may never seem happy with whatever final product is delivered. You can combat micromanager accusations by explaining your why to your coworkers. If you’re asking for a tenth revision on that report, explain why it’s accuracy is so important. Maybe it’s going in front of the CEO or the board of directors, and any mistakes reflect poorly on yourself and your team. If you’re making requests that may come off as micromanaging, explaining your intent will help others see through your eyes and then it’s up to you to trust that they’re skilled enough to get the job done.

THEY OPERATE WITH HIGH EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS.

High efficiency leads to maximum productivity, while high effectiveness means you’re getting the job done right. Combine them both and you’ve found a recipe for success. A key detail-oriented skill is time management. Without the ability to manage your time efficiently, you’re starting at a loss. This often means planning and preparing so you can dive into a task head-on and fully prepared. It also means that while you’re working on a task, you’re limiting distractions. Yes, we’re talking about your phone. Turning off notifications or hitting airplane mode for a period of time can help you laser focus.

When you’re managing your time efficiently, by delegating work, cutting out unnecessary steps, setting goals, and saying “no” when it makes sense, you’re likely to increase your effectiveness. Effectiveness ensures you’re adding valuing and accomplishing the task at hand. Getting the job done right should be your number one priority, but detail-oriented people also know that time is money. Finding a healthy balance between efficiency and effectiveness is essential to operate at your maximum potential.

THEY’RE CURIOUS.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it keeps the detail-oriented person learning every day. Being inquisitive has its perks when it provides them with valuable information they wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Genuine curiosity is the key to knowledge gathering. The more you know, the better view of the world you have which adds valuable perspective to everything you do. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions and inspect the people and places you encounter in your everyday life and beyond. Your curious nature allows you to gather information and find solutions to your problems.

Need to become a better listener? Download this free worksheet that teaches you five ways you can become a better listener today.

THEY PRODUCE A POLISHED AND QUALITY WORK PRODUCT.

It’s no surprise that detail-oriented people have high standards. It’s because they know the work they create is a direct reflection of their brand. When you consistently produce a great product, people learn that they can rely on you to get the job done, and more importantly, get it done well. Not giving your stamp of approval until everything is exactly as it should be means you’re delivering a product you can feel good about.

THEY ADD VALUE TO YOUR TEAM.

Being detail-oriented means little if you’re not adding value. Their team is likely in awe of their commitment to detail and consistent way of getting the job done. It’s second nature for them to be a team player. Whether they’re contributing with detailed-reports, thought-out plans, or comprehensive notes, you know you can count on them to bring something to the table.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Get weekly Email Update

RECOMMENDED IN JOB SEARCH

Product Designer

Job Description Curabitur non nulla sit amet nisl tempus convallis quis ac lectus. Mauris blandit aliquet elit, eget tincidunt nibh pulvinar a. Praesent sapien massa, convallis a pellentesque nec, egestas non nisi. Curabitur aliquet quam id dui posuere blandit. Nulla porttitor accumsan tincidunt. Donec rutrum congue leo eget malesuada. Pellentesque in ipsum id orci porta dapibus. Donec sollicitudin molestie malesuada.

IT Department Manager

Job Description Curabitur non nulla sit amet nisl tempus convallis quis ac lectus. Mauris blandit aliquet elit, eget tincidunt nibh pulvinar a. Praesent sapien massa, convallis a pellentesque nec, egestas non nisi. Curabitur aliquet quam id dui posuere blandit. Nulla porttitor accumsan tincidunt. Donec rutrum congue leo eget malesuada. Pellentesque in ipsum id orci porta dapibus. Donec sollicitudin molestie malesuada.

QA Department Manager

Job Description Curabitur non nulla sit amet nisl tempus convallis quis ac lectus. Mauris blandit aliquet elit, eget tincidunt nibh pulvinar a. Praesent sapien massa, convallis a pellentesque nec, egestas non nisi. Curabitur aliquet quam id dui posuere blandit. Nulla porttitor accumsan tincidunt. Donec rutrum congue leo eget malesuada. Pellentesque in ipsum id orci porta dapibus. Donec sollicitudin molestie malesuada.

Brand Manager

Job Description Curabitur non nulla sit amet nisl tempus convallis quis ac lectus. Mauris blandit aliquet elit, eget tincidunt nibh pulvinar a. Praesent sapien massa, convallis a pellentesque nec, egestas non nisi. Curabitur aliquet quam id dui posuere blandit. Nulla porttitor accumsan tincidunt. Donec rutrum congue leo eget malesuada. Pellentesque in ipsum id orci porta dapibus. Donec sollicitudin molestie malesuada.

Customer Care

Job Description Curabitur non nulla sit amet nisl tempus convallis quis ac lectus. Mauris blandit aliquet elit, eget tincidunt nibh pulvinar a. Praesent sapien massa, convallis a pellentesque nec, egestas non nisi. Curabitur aliquet quam id dui posuere blandit. Nulla porttitor accumsan tincidunt. Donec rutrum congue leo eget malesuada. Pellentesque in ipsum id orci porta dapibus. Donec sollicitudin molestie malesuada.

Merchandiser

Job Description Curabitur non nulla sit amet nisl tempus convallis quis ac lectus. Mauris blandit aliquet elit, eget tincidunt nibh pulvinar a. Praesent sapien massa, convallis a pellentesque nec, egestas non nisi. Curabitur aliquet quam id dui posuere blandit. Nulla porttitor accumsan tincidunt. Donec rutrum congue leo eget malesuada. Pellentesque in ipsum id orci porta dapibus. Donec sollicitudin molestie malesuada.