In the application instructions we asked that people send their applications in as a PDF - this wasn’t due to some technological restriction that prevented us from reading other file formats; we asked for this as a preliminary screening technique. Shockingly, less than a third of the people who applied to our position actually followed these directions. Not a single person who failed was asked to come in for an interview; we didn’t want our finances handled by someone who couldn’t carefully read a simple set of instructions.
Attention to detail is a skill which is vital to almost any job you might come across. A furniture maker without this skill would make sub-par furniture, a waiter wouldn’t get orders right, a journalist wouldn’t write quality stories. It’s one of the most vital skills anyone can have, and failing to demonstrate it during the application process is a huge mistake.
There are any number of reasons that someone could gloss over the instructions on an application, it could be due to the impersonal nature of applying online, or the sheer number of applications that someone is sending out, or it could be due to one of countless other factors. At the end of the day however, why applicants choose not to follow instructions is irrelevant - if someone can’t even follow the directions to apply to a job, why would an employer trust that person enough to work there?
Your job search is your business, but here’s a tip for anyone currently looking for work: pay attention to the instructions on the application. Take it from someone who has both been overlooked for positions because of this simple mistake, as well as seen what happens on the hiring end to people who fail to follow instructions. Pay attention and you’re already doing better than most of your competition.