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Applying to Jobs? Don't Wait Until the Weekend

image for fizkes/Shutterstock
fizkes/Shutterstock
  • The best day to apply for a job is any weekday, as soon as you see it posted. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8 million jobs are projected to be created by 2024.
  • A study undertaken by employment website Glassdoor reveals the average job opening attracts 250 applicants, and roughly 2% of those will be asked to interview.
  • Employee referrals give you a better chance of getting an interview.

When is the perfect time or day of the week to send in your resume and job application?

According to Monster.com, the first quarter of the year is a good time to get a fresh start for both job candidates and employers.

Writer Dawn Papandrea also says new budgets are in place so there's money for hiring, but the pool of job candidates is also high. During the spring months, employers are mostly looking at soon-to-be college graduates, and in the fall, everyone wants to be fully staffed before the holidays arrive and to use what's left of the budget they received in January.

Certain industries don't follow these patterns and have different months when they need to hire. For example, tax preparers need to be in place and up to speed to start work by January and work through April, so their hiring happens during the other eight months of the year. Recruitment for teachers falls during the summer because they must start at the beginning of the school year in August or September. Executives can be brought on board at any time of the year.

What can you do to increase the chances that your resume and application will be noticed? Jonathan Duarte, founder of the internet job board GoHire, said most midmarket and enterprise customers now use applicant tracking databases. While these employers might be defaulting to "last in" or "first in" when sorting candidates, he explains, many add in other factors, like algorithm scores on suitability, skills, etc. That means it's not the time or day of the week that makes the difference, but the quality of the keywords. [Related: Your Resume Cheat Sheet Writing Guide]

You're likely not privy to whether a tracking system is being used to sort applicants, so it's always best to submit your application when you first notice the job posting.

Will anyone see your application on Saturday or Sunday? Probably not. On Mondays, hiring managers, recruiters and everyone else are too busy catching up after two days out of the office. On Fridays, everyone seems to be planning their weekend, not thinking about who they plan to hire. That leaves Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. 

If you apply for a position on a Tuesday, will fewer candidates be in the pool, giving your resume a better chance of being read?

"The short answer is no," said Ellen Mullarkey, vice president of Messina Staffing. "If a hiring manager is using a human resources management system for recruiting, they will look at all the submitted applications in batches, not at the time when they come in."

The hiring managers won't know when any one application was submitted or received. Mullarkey says Messina uses a tool that "reads" and "pre-screens" applications for each position, and then she looks at those results on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. The day the application was submitted has no bearing, she explains.

You can, however, get a head start on the competition by applying to job listings as soon as they are posted. Mullarkey said most hiring managers spend Mondays catching up on other work after the weekend lull and then post jobs on Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings.

Although applying immediately is recommended, that doesn't always increase your chances of being selected for an interview. But there's no reason to wait. If you procrastinate, Mullarkey said, you run the risk of someone more qualified getting their application in before you do and yours never even being reviewed.

A deeper dive into what time new job posts go up reveals it's between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., at least for Mullarkey.

"I want to complete tasks before lunch and before leaving for the day," she said, "although there's really no set time."

In most companies, recruiters work normal business hours Monday through Friday, said Duarte, who has been tracking job listings and hiring statistics for the past 23 years.

"During the week, recruiters are interviewing candidates for multiple jobs and getting requisition approvals from hiring managers," he said. "Then on Thursday and Friday, it's a rush to get jobs posted so that during the next week they can start screening resumes."

According to Duarte, the time of day a job is posted isn't always important, because job boards scan for job listings two to four times a day and add them to their databases.

He also mentioned that Thursday at noon has long been the traditional deadline to get your ads in for the Sunday classifieds in the newspaper, which some employers still use.

Securing an interview from job postings sounds kind of like your chances of winning the lottery, but you can improve your chances.

When you feel like you're a strong candidate but never hear back from the employer, it's quite frustrating. Did they hire someone and not let you know? Are they still considering your application but remaining silent, so you have no idea what's going on?

You could have made a mistake in how you submitted your application, or the hiring manager didn't think you were qualified, but they most likely don't have the time to notify all the applicants that it's a no.

Glassdoor, a job posting site, did a study that found most job openings get 250 applicants, and only 2% of those are called in for an interview.

Duarte has a suggestion on how to make it into that 2%. He says to find someone at the company you know or have a connection with and ask that person to give you a referral. "Employee referrals have a 1-in-10 chance of being hired and almost always get a response from a recruiter."

In professional service jobs, Duarte says, candidates who are referred by an employee are treated differently, because they know more about the company and its culture. Employee referrals were the top source for hiring in 2016, accounting for 30% of all hires, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

Even when a company employee gives you a referral, you might wonder how long the process is going to take. You applied a month ago and haven't heard anything.

For whatever reason, not many job seekers hear back from companies after that first automated reply saying they've received your application. Mullarkey suggests following up about a week after first applying or a few days after the job closes (if you know that date).

"This means sending a brief explanation of why you're interested in the position and saying you'd still like to be considered," she said. "If your application is strong enough, you will be contacted. Otherwise, continuing to contact the company won't benefit you and might just mark you as an annoyance or, worse yet, too desperate."

Heather Larson

Heather Larson spent way too many years working in different finance departments. Now she writes about money along with business solutions and technology. When she's not writing, she relishes reading a good thriller with her rescue dog in her lap.