Seriously, Why Can’t People Follow Directions

In this day and and age, with a struggling economy, high competition for jobs, and overall lack of extra money floating around, I don’t feel that it is unrealistic to assume that people would put their best foot forward when applying for jobs. It came as a great surprise then to find out that some job applicants are utterly incapable of following directions, such as including a resume and cover letter (I did not realize that this was such an “unusual” request of people applying for a job) or to send all materials in with a certain email title.

So…what is going on!? Why don’t people read directions anymore? What does this say about our culture as a whole? Are we actually getting dumber because of our reliance on technology or do we just place value in different areas than we did previously?

After discussing with a number of colleagues, this seems to be a disturbing occurrence that is developing everywhere, and perhaps it is a trend of the upcoming generation. Have they simply been wired to think differently because of the Google phenomenon? They should still be taught the exact same skills but seem to be expressing them in a different way. Regardless, they seem to think that Facebook world is the real world and that the real rules don’t apply to them. So, to counteract this phenomenon, make sure to follow these three steps in all of your business interactions:

  1. ALWAYS put your best foot forward – you want to be remembered for being remarkable, not for being incompetent. Show that you have what it takes to be successful and your interactions will go much more smoothly, and will open up future opportunities as you advance in your career.
  2. Embrace the power of the first impression – as clichéd as it sounds, you really do get one shot at making a first impression, so make it a good one. Offer a good handshake, make eye contact, and show that you are interested in what the person has to say. Also, ask intelligent questions to show you’re paying attention!
  3. Remember that it’s not worth doing if it’s not worth doing well – yes, doing something at a mediocre level is “ok”, but doing something well (remarkably so) will make a lasting impression. Employers can find plenty of people to do an “ok” job, but if you are able to do a remarkable job AND make a positive and lasting impression then you will be set for life!

Picture credit


  1. This is actually a CRITICAL skill. I too don’t understand why so many pay so little attention to important details. I guess they just want to make it easy for those of us that do! Good work

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