Professional Feature: Attention for Details


About The Professional Feature 'Attention for Details'

Attention to details means that you not only pay attention to the main points in your work, but also have an eye for 'trifles'. This competency is specially important in positions where the overlook of small things can have major consequences. Consider, for example, positions in financial services where a zero or too little can mean the bankruptcy of a company. Or in healthcare, where the wrong dosage of a medicine can be the difference between life and death.

What does this competency entail?

Attention to details means that you:

- is alert and focused and makes few mistakes.
- accurately prescribed instructions.
- always checks important information at the detailed level.
- remains critical in routine tasks and you are alert to deviations.
- interpret and check details, data and figures.
- can quickly extract essential points from a complex amount of information.
- quickly discovered gaps in tables and diagrams.
- quickly discern inconsistencies in detailed information.
- quickly notice minor deviations and errors in the work of others.

Which competencies are involved?

- Quality orientation. When you want to deliver good quality work, you've to pay attention to details, because it's precisely the attention to details that makes the difference between 'good' or 'excellent'.
- Accurate: You strive for accuracy and you try to deliver good quality work. You try to prevent mistakes and you ensure that not only your own work, but also that of colleagues, is carried out thoroughly, orderly and carefully.
- Performance motivation: You have an inner will to perform well; to achieve goals and be successful.
- Result-oriented: Those who want to achieve good results will also work accurately. Sloppiness reduces the chance of success.
- Responsibility: You want to deliver high-quality work because you know that a lot depends on it. You are responsible for the performance of your department, organization or company.

When will you break through?

You talk when you are extremely perfectionist and even pay attention to the smallest of nonsense. You don't have to put the finishing touches on everything; you need to know when attention to details is important and necessary and when not. If you always want to have everything down to the last detail, almost nothing comes out of your hands and this can eventually cause considerable irritation to your colleagues. When your colleagues start calling you mosquito sifter or ant fucker, you know that you've to take a step in place.

How do you develop this competency?

Check with yourself when you've overlooked things that you should have seen. Is there a pattern in it? Does this happen more often in certain circumstances, for example when the workload is high or when you've to make a quick decision?

Ask yourself what you can do to improve this. Perhaps you are too easily distracted by all kinds of sounds around you: noisy colleagues, different ringtones from cell phones, the copier, the coffee maker or other noise from the environment can prevent you from always being able to work with concentration. To solve this, you can create silence and concentration places or you can arrange silence hours with your colleagues; during the first two hours of the day, the department only discusses in whispers. You may find that you are more of the main lines. To prevent mistakes in the future, you can agree that a colleague or a secretary checks your work more intensively. If this is not possible and your mistakes can cause a lot of damage, then it might be wise to look for another position in which this competency less necessary.


- Take the time needed to absorb all the information, even if you are under (time) pressure.
- Focus on your task; focus all your attention on what you are doing at that moment.
- Work efficiently and in a structured way. A careful way of working ensures that you can focus more on details.

How do you show that you pay attention to details when applying?

'A good eye for detail' is in the list of personal characteristics that the ideal candidate must meet following the company. You can in your cover letter writing that you've this, but you are selling yourself better substantiate this statement with a clear and concrete example. The STAR method is a useful tool for this.

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