When you’re seeking new clients, it’s critical to do all you can to increase your chances of getting an interview or scoring the deal.

One of the easiest ways to destroy any chance is, fortunately, also one that is easiest to control.

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Here it is:

Simply follow instructions when replying to the posting or RFP (Request for Proposal).

It sounds easy enough, right? But you’d be surprised how many people totally ignore the clear directions that typically appear on job postings. Don’t be one of those people, unless you’re okay with sabotaging your shot at the job.

Why is following directions so important? Well, consider what messages or perceptions may be made when you fail to do so:

  1. You don’t pay attention to details.
  2. You take shortcuts and turn in sloppy work.
  3. You waste time, money, resources, and attention. Time is money. Resources are finite. Time is finite.
  4. You erode trust and create doubt in your abilities.
  5. You cause people to worry about your work and feel they may have to micromanage you for best results.

I’ve hired for both myself and for clients. Here are some of the most common things I’ve seen in submissions:

  1. Posting asks for a list of skills. The applicant says “please see my website.”
  2. Posting asks for a PDF. Applicant sends a Word document.
  3. Posting indicates the opportunity is for United States applicants only. Applicant is not in the US.
  4. Posting indicates using a very specific email subject line. Applicant makes something up instead.
  5. Posting states to email multiple parties. Applicant omits parties from the email.

Here’s another thing to take into consideration:

Please don’t use friendship or association as a crutch or reason to not follow directions.

Allow my personal story to serve as an example for you:

In early 2017, I made a posting for a part-time executive assistant. One of the application requirements was: “Upload a YouTube video and paste URL here (do not make it private). Explain why you’re the best candidate for the position. Limit to five minutes please.”

This was an intentional way I was trying to assess the tech skills of applicants, and it was giving them an additional chance to sell themselves.

Three people who had worked with me in the past (through other clients) submitted their applications without the required YouTube video.

Why? Because they knew me and assumed our friendship precluded them from following the outlined instructions.

I excluded every single one from consideration.

Hiring managers are often inundated with applications, especially for positions that don’t require a high degree of skills or knowledge. At one time, I was the hiring manager for a night and weekend work-at-home position. We often received well over a hundred submissions for a single opening. Those who didn’t follow the outlined instructions were the easiest to eliminate from consideration for the job.

If you want a position, read it once. Read it twice. Then double check for accuracy. While you may not ultimately get the position, following these steps will increase your chances of being considered!

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