How Well Do You Follow Instructions?

January 9, 2014

In my former life, I did some grant writing. The first rule of writing a grant proposal is read the instructions and follow them to the letter. If the the foundation or trust asks that the proposal be typed in Comic Sans and submitted on rainbow paper, you had better make sure you have that font and plenty of rainbow paper on hand.

The same rule – ‘read the instructions first’ – (srsly? did you think I was joking about Comic Sans and rainbow paper?) applies to everything I do as a paralegal and grad student. My job is all about rules, regulations, and following directions; and school is, well, school –

So you may ask, why am I harping about following instructions? A recent comment on Solosez reminded me that this rule also applies to job applicants.

Humor me for a moment … no cheating!!

Read the instructions. You have 10 minutes – GO!

  1. Find a pen and paper.
  2. Put your name in the upper right-hand corner of the paper.
  3. Circle the word ‘name’ in sentence two.
  4. Write today’s date—month-day-year—in the top left-hand corner of the paper.
  5. Write the numbers 1 to 5, one per line.
  6. Draw five small circles beside #1.
  7. Put an “X” in the second and fourth circles next to #1.
  8. Write the word ‘encyclopedia’ beside #3.
  9. In the lower left hand corner of your paper, write the names of your favorite singer and your favorite group.
  10. Put an X in the lower right-hand corner of the paper.
  11. Draw a circle around the X you just made.
  12. Write the name of the first president of the United States on the back of your paper, anywhere you choose.
  13. Count the number of words in this sentence and write the answer beside #2 on your paper.
  14. Put a square around #1 and #5.
  15. Punch 3 small holes anywhere in the paper.
  16. Circle every letter ‘E’ you have written.
  17. Take the number of dwarfs in the Snow White story; add the number of bears in the Goldilocks story; divide by 2. Write this total in the approximate center of your paper.
  18. Underline your name.
  19. Just above your answer to #5, write “This is very easy.”
  20. Now that you read all of the instructions, skip all of them except the first two. If you have followed the instructions correctly, you should only have your name on the paper!

Nu? How did you do?

So, how does this apply when you answer a want ad? Remember the thread on Solosez …one of the attorneys commented that he had recently posted an ad for a part-time assistant that ad included the following language: “Resumes and cover letters in PDF only.”  He received a number of replies in <wait for it>  Word.


Do you see the problem?

Those applicants, regardless of their overall qualifications, will not even be considered for the position because of their inability to follow the simplest of instructions. Don’t let this be you!

Comments are closed.