Do you remember in school when a teacher would give a test, tell everyone to put their names on the test, and read the instructions before they started? If you were one of the lucky few who actually took this advice from your teacher, you quickly found by reading the instructions that you didn’t have to answer any questions. If you followed the instructions, you got an automatic 100 on the test. As you sat and relished in the fact that you had a guaranteed “A,” you surely noticed the many students who struggled to answer the questions on the test.
Fast forward to your job search. Are you always reading the instructions (sometimes the “fine print”)? Did you know that some employers actually use this tactic that your teacher used to weed out candidates? Yes, it’s true! I actually knew a company who used this strategy during their opening due to the overwhelming amount of applications they were anticipating to receive. If the applicant did not follow ALL of the instructions throughout their 10-page application, the applicant’s application automatically went into the shredder, regardless of the applicant’s qualifications.
The same is sometimes true on job posting. I’ve seen at the bottom of some job postings where the hiring manager provides an email address and requests certain documents. Many people hit the “Apply” button on the job board, but the instructions at the bottom clearly state to email the documents directly to “Sally Jane.” It’s not to say that everyone that writes instructions are doing it to weed out candidates, but there are some that do. You won’t know who uses this strategy, so it will always behoove you to read instructions carefully.