Can You Follow Directions?

This post from one of my Facebook friends …

Can someone please tell me why it is so hard for people to follow simple instructions?

… reminded me of a recent Financial Executives Networking Group (FENG) newsletter from Matt Bud. Sadly, it’s not the first time I’ve seen this issue arise. I doubt it will be the last.

Basically, a Finance Executive job posting in the newsletter, by a recruiter, gave specific instructions on how to apply. The majority of the respondents chose to do it “their” way, rather than follow the simple instructions by the recruiter. And, in this case, the preference of the recruiter.

Needless to say, the recruiter wasn’t happy. Now Matt isn’t happy. And all the respondents who did it “their” way will not be considered. There are no winners in this scenario.

But it seems to me there are two very important lessons we can take away from the above snafu.

— The world doesn’t revolve around you.

The universe is bigger than you!
The universe is bigger than you!

That was my answer to her question. We all walk around thinking we are the center of our own universe, and maybe that would be true if there weren’t other people living in our universe!

It isn’t necessarily that we can’t follow directions, it’s that we choose not to. My way is better, more expedient, safer, shorter, and whatever. But just as in crafting your marketing documents, it isn’t about you. It’s about the company and what you can do for them. In this case, it was about the recruiter and following her process in order to be considered for the opportunity.

You might not like the directions / instructions, but if you are going to play the posted position game, the rules apply.

More to the point, I think the failure to follow posting directions in a job search is quite often rooted in desperation. And, …

— Desperate isn’t pretty or attractive

If you happen to win consideration, desperation reduces your value and your positioning. You need … therefore you can be bought at the lowest possible price. Rarely, is that a recipe for contentment or satisfaction … not for very long anyway.

So, two quick suggestions …

1 – If you’re responding to posted positions, follow the rules, at least initially; and
2 – Don’t wait until you need a job to start the search for your next position

Share and enjoy

2 thoughts on “Can You Follow Directions?”

  1. I’ve noticed that people who don’t follow directions, who ask for forgiveness instead of permission, tend to get much further in life than those who do follow directions. The world (or at least the USA) is predisposed to like those who take initiative and break the rules. It is difficult to enforce rules, so the default is to let rule breaking happen – without publicizing it – which in effect rewards the rule breaker.

    I think this discussion has an interesting analog in the controller-to-CFO track discussion. Controllers are typically accountants, who generally are quite adept at following rules. CFOs are very frequently rule breakers. To make the jump from Controller to CFO, a Controller needs to show outside-of-the-box (to use a cliche) thinking…in effect signaling an ability to NOT follow rules.


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