What exactly does a 'detail-oriented' person look like?
While I always thought of someone who does an analyst type position where they are working with numbers and spreadsheets all day, this quality seems to be on every requirements section of every job description out there.
So I did a little d i g g i n g . The common phrase that is repeatedly used: Detail-oriented people can understand the 'cause behind an effect' and it happens to be 'second nature'.
If it is second nature, then you either have it or you don't and it is not something you can learn or work on. It would need to be natural and not forced. It is impossible that all of these positions requiring the detail-oriented skill, need an individual who can determine the cause to the occurrence and do it without trying. If it is included in almost every requirements section of the job descriptions, then one of three things are true.
1. Hiring managers are misusing and overusing the term for some/most of their job descriptions, which will cause the effect (see what I did there?) of some people who don't see themselves as 'detail-oriented' resistant to apply.
2. People applying for these jobs are assuming they are detail oriented and they are simply not.
3. The term has become muted because it is so overused and at this point, it is a waste of a requirement.
Let's take the term 'detail-oriented' with a grain of salt next time we are applying for a position. If the hiring manager asks you the question in an interview, just ask him to clarify the question!!
In reading more and more about this topic, there are different ways that people may be detail oriented. If you don't consider yourself one of those overbearingly high strung, micromanaging, read my e-mail 12 times before sending kind of person; you may still be great for the job.