freelancer paying attention to detail

What Detail-Oriented People Do that Other People Don't

Often you’ll see people write down the traits “detail-oriented” or “attention to detail” in their resume or cover letter to describe their good qualities. But what does it truly mean to be detail-oriented and to pay attention to detail?

Why attention to detail is important

Attention to detail is a valuable skill for many professions that require precision and accuracy. Surgeons, accountants, architects, mechanics, and pharmacists are only a few examples of jobs that require detail-oriented people. A lack of attention to detail in such occupations can be disastrous and may cause serious problems, loss of money, injury, and even death.

No matter what role you are applying for, being detail-oriented is an excellent trait to have. To enumerate, here are some of the most pertinent reasons as to why attention to detail is important:

  • Avoid financial loss that results from errors.
  • Avoid legal problems that stem from neglect.
  • Spot opportunities for improving the department or organization.
  • Save time and resources because there is a reduced requirement for supervision, cross-checking, and revision.

Common habits of detail-oriented people

Detail-oriented people have certain specific quirks that come naturally to them. Below are some habits that are common among those who are detail-oriented.

Sensitive to changes

Whenever a change occurs, detail-oriented people are usually the first to notice. No matter how big or small the change, it will be noticeable for someone who pays attention to detail. At work, these may include changes in plans, shifts in procedures, and alterations in figures. Outside of work, it can be as simple as noticing when someone has had a haircut or is not wearing their favorite pair of shoes for the first time.

Triple checking

When a person is detail-oriented, the last thing that person wants are errors in their work. As a result, he or she usually double-checks and even triple-checks the final output before submitting it. In fact, this person may even double-check his or her work after every step of the process. It makes detail-oriented people more at ease to think that they missed nothing in terms of data and information and that their work is as flawless as possible.

skimming for details during a meeting

Ask a lot of questions.

You’ll easily spot a detail-oriented person in a meeting because that person is most likely the one with so many questions. When this person plans to undertake a project, especially a new one, they would want to know anything and everything about it down to the tiniest detail. That is why they tend to ask so many questions to ensure that they don’t just get the gist of the project but every little thing that they need to know to perform and complete it.

Remembering random details

One uncanny thing that you might notice about detail-oriented people is that they often remember random details about events that other people might have forgotten. It can be as trivial as what someone wore at a random meeting or as necessary as how many entries there were on a specific file on a given day. 

Highly organized and always prepared

As expected, detail-oriented people have excellent organizational skills. They take into account every detail of the tasks they need to complete and the things they need to accomplish. As a result, you will notice that they are often always well prepared when it comes to presentations, events, or tasks.

You can start increasing your attention to detail by becoming more organized. The good news is that being organized is something that you can learn from online classes like Learn to Become Organized and Get Things Done: How to Organize Your Life and Take Action.

Polished and excellent work output

One of the best perks of paying attention to detail is that the output you produce is usually of excellent quality. Since meticulous people check and recheck their work, there are typically little to no errors in their production. If you know someone who does a flawless job, it is most likely that that person is detail-oriented.

Sensitive to body language and social cues

Details are not just limited to figures and events. It also includes social cues. People who are extra attentive tend to notice body language, vocal tones, and facial expressions better than others. As a result, they are usually good at telling how someone is feeling to what they are most likely thinking based on their body language.

Grammar Nazi

People who have the habit of correcting others grammar errors, spelling, typos and errors in speech or writing are most likely detail-oriented. It takes a lot of attention to detail to be able to spot these mistakes down to the last dot.

leader discussing details


Detail-oriented managers are often mistaken as micromanagers because they tend to be nitpicky about almost everything that goes on in their team. They like to pry into the tiniest detail of every project to make sure that there are no errors and that everything is in order. Other people in the team can quickly feel like they are being micromanaged, but it is merely in the nature of detail-oriented people to make sure that every element of a project or task is in the right place.

Take things slow

While other people can easily dive right in and get things done, detail-oriented people like to take their time. They might be reluctant to get things started in a project because they want to make sure that everything is in order first. Also, since they are in the habit of checking and rechecking their work, each step may take a bit of extra time dedicated to proofreading or reevaluation.


 People who pay close attention to detail are more trustworthy since they check their own work. They require less supervision compared to others. You can chalk this up to being a perfectionist and wanting to make every project or task come out spotless and perfect. As a result, their managers tend to trust them more and give them more independence and autonomy.

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