Acting like a 4-year-old can land you a job interview

How ignoring a preschool lesson can derail your job chances

It's a lesson we all learn in preschool, yet if you ignore it during your job search, you'll never get an interview and your resume is likely to get tossed on the spot.

Follow directions.

It sounds maddeningly simple, yet HR expert Susan Heathfield says not only does it continue to happen, but it's also a major red flag for resume screeners.

"Not only does the applicant’s failure to follow directions give you information about his or her potential success as an employee, it invalidates the application," she tells

Here are several areas in which directions are commonly ignored:

  • Failure to include a requested salary history.
  • Application from out-of-state candidates when listing noted local candidates only.
  • Failure to include a requested cover letter.

Heathfield says that the lack of a cover letter points to one thing.

"Failing to write a cover letter is often a sign that the individual applying is not qualified for the position," she says. "The applicant knows this and doesn’t want to waste their time – or he or she is just plain lazy."

Regardless, they're all attributes you do not want associated with yourself or your resume. So there you go: You can have a grammatically-perfect, wonderfully-designed resume with action verbs, real-world accomplishments and all the education and experience in the world, and none of it will matter if you fail to do what they ask right out of the gate.


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