In almost any relationship you engage in, I believe it's a good practice to exceed the other individual's expectations. But this practice is truly essential to achieving success in obtaining a position with a potential employer.
Speaking from my personal experiences as a former employee of several companies including a short stint as an employment consultant for a job search agency; as well as my experience of being an employer for over two decades - I would like to share some of my observations, philosophies and lessons to be learned regarding this subject.
Most successful employers always have an eye open for an exceptional hire, whether they are in the market for more employees or not. If they are really impressed by all of the details of a new applicant or referral, their minds begin to wander and search for a place in the company to place this individual.
Too often an individual searching for a job position produces a single resume; makes lots of copies; and sends them out to dozens of potential companies with the hopes that someone will respond. In this scenario, these applicants rarely take the time to research the history or even the products sold by the companies that they are applying to. Thus, their standard resume must fit all the needs of many different companies. However after doing a little company research, a standard resume residing in a word processor can be customized to the specific needs of each company you are applying to. Mentioning the potential company in bold print throughout your resume - can also work wonders if someone takes the time to read it. Another good practice might be to BOLDLY place a specific follow-up date and time in your brief letter of introduction; and then making a follow up call at the exact time stated. This practice can potentially work wonders if you can get through to the proper individual. Thus, right from the very beginning of your interactions with a potential employer, you should seek to exceed expectations.
If you are fortunate enough to get an interview with a specific company, it's time to get back to researching this company further. Try to learn as much about the job you are applying for, as well as any other job opportunities you feel qualified for in the company. Really do your homework. Prepare for potential questions you might be asked at the interview and always answer decisively. Your first impression MUST be impressive, in order to move on to a second interview or further consideration. Preparation and attention to every detail is imperative. You can't be too meticulous with regard to promptness, grooming, company knowledge, and your ability and willingness to contribute to the success of the company.
Over the years, I have conducted too many interviews as an employer, when applicants were only concerned with their starting compensation, benefits and vacation time. Too many applicants are only interested on how the company can serve them as opposed to how they can serve the company. This does not make a very good first impression on an employer who can be selective in hiring. These types of interviews never lasted very long and were a waste of my valuable time.
However, when I was interviewing an applicant that invested their time on learning about my company and steered the interview on how they can be an asset to my company, the interview not only lasted longer but the applicant usually was in line for further consideration.
Thus, putting extra effort into customizing, research and all the meticulous details mentioned above can help in exceeding the expectations of a potential employer. It really enhances your chances of being hired.