I had been job hunting for months when this opportunity landed on my doorstep, well on my stoep since I’m Zulu. It was perfect! I’d be working remotely with an international team and the salary was in US dollars. This is the big break I’d been praying for.

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Everything about the job was right up my alley. I was the right person for the job. The deadline for applications was close but my current job kept getting in the way of progress. I finally got around to completing the application and I sent it.

The next day I got a response, I’d been disqualified because I didn’t follow instructions. I was crushed! I mean I deserved to be disqualified but still, it didn’t make it sting any less. You see, what had happened was, they asked for a 400-word writing sample and my best piece at that time was about 600 words. I just copied and pasted it without checking the word count. I was cocky. Their reasoning was simple, “We can’t hire you because you failed to follow instructions and this job needs this quality since you’ll be working remotely with a team.” It made sense. I let myself down.

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Ever since then I took out the phrase, “pays attention to detail” because clearly that’s something I struggle with.

I remember trying to prepare for my Provisional exams for my driver’s license, I kept failing. I thought for sure the Road Rules App had a bug. It wasn’t until I started to pay attention that I realised that I was not paying attention to what the question required. For example, when I’d see a question on traffic lights, I’d automatically assume it’s asking for the correct sequence of the traffic lights whereas sometimes the question would require you to pick the wrong sequence.

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Even when it comes to being a social media influencer, you have to be very disciplined and follow instructions or you’ll ruin the client’s brand and lose money. When I got my first gig on Webfluential, it was for Fox Africa, you were given guidelines that you had to adhere to. The post had to be approved, make use of the correct hashtags and be posted at the pre-determined time. Failure to which, you won’t get paid.

Following instructions is a simple life skill. Do what you are supposed to be doing correctly and on time to avoid messing up. Trying to work smarter by looking for shortcuts or rushing through won’t do you any favours.