Resume Writing, Career Advice and Job Search blog from ResumeWriting.com.
Is there a time after the job opening is posted when it’s better to respond? If you’re going to play the odds, what gives you a better chance for success?
I didn’t know the answer to this, even after almost 15 years helping job seekers. So, this summer, using data from our clients (using real world job seekers and actual job applications) I set out to find out. It took me 6 months, but I finally gathered enough data to hazard a guess.
First, I’ll share the data. Then, below the fold, I’ll discuss my methodology. Finally, I’ll speculate on why the results are what they are.
Results- There Are 4 Distinct Times After The Job Is Posted That Are Best
It turns out that there are 4 distinct periods of 72 hours when job applications seem to get the best responses. They are:
- The first 72 hours after the job is first posted.
- The 72 hour period that marks 1 week from the time the job was first posted.
- The 72 hour period that marks 2 weeks from the time the job was first posted.
- The 72 hour period that marks 3 weeks from the time the job was first posted.
The charts below will illustrate this.
The numbers at the bottom of each chart show the number of days elapsed since the time the job ad was first posted.
So, in other words, in you want to play the odds, quite simply you should apply right away, or time your application to coincide with the 7th, 14th or 21st day after the job was first posted.
This seems like a funny coincidence right? Why would the odds of hearing back from your application line up so neatly with these 1 week periods? I explore that a bit in the conclusion section below.
But it certainly seems to be the case. If you look at the graph, of the 322 successful job applications I recorded, fully 74 percent came during one of the 72 hour periods mentioned above.
And as you can see, the times with with by far best odds of hearing back came in the first 72 hours or the 72 hour period around the 1 week mark. These surges in responses represented 56% of the successful applications.
I approached a random sampling of clients we worked with at ResumeWriting.com. After of course ensuring anonymity, I asked each job seeker to do the following:
Make a note of the next 10 job ads you respond to. Note the date when the ad was originally posted. Now, if you get a response to your application, please make note of that. How many days after the job was first posted did you get a response?
In total, I got 200 job seekers to agree to do this for me. 200 job seekers x 10 applications each = 2000 total job applications. It took me 6 months to get 200 job seekers to agree to this.
What do I mean by “response to your application?” Well, I was quite specific. I told the job seekers to only consider a positive response to be:
A request for an interview, a scheduled interview, a discussion with an actual hiring manager or some direct, personal interaction with a real human being that you think is likely to lead to an interview. Please do not count automated replies or canned responses as positive responses.
Note that of the 2000 job applications recorded in this informal study, only 322 (16%) “positive responses” were recorded.
What can we gather from this? Again, why would the results line up so neatly like this?
Well, I have a few speculative thoughts.
First, I’m not surprised that you find more success the earlier your respond. It very much is the nature of getting there first or getting to the top of the pile. I think we all intuitively expect this.
Second, the 1, 2 and 3 week period results can probably be explained by the nature of how job ads are purchased and posted. Employers often pay for job ads that run for periods of weeks or, more usually, a month. I think it’s probably human nature for an employer to post an ad but not always check for results right away. I can see a hiring manager saying:
“Gee. It’s been a week since we posted that ad last Monday. Let’s check and see what we got.”
This might be because they paid for the ad to run for a specific time period and they want to check before they run out of time.
But even if they didn’t have to pay for the ad (i.e., the job was posted on their own corporate website, perhaps) I can see a hiring manager waiting a period of time for resumes to accumulate before checking for the results of a job ad.
If you imagine that a hiring manager checks every couple of hours for new resumes coming in, I think you’d deluding yourself.
So, this data suggests that a hiring manager is going to check for results a few days after posting, or after a reasonable period of time, like a week.
But what explains the slight bumps in successful responses at the 2 week and 3 week mark?
I’ve got a simple guess on that one as well.
Imagine that it’s a few weeks after the job has first been posted. The hiring manager now has a certain number of applicants he’s considered. In fact, he’s probably interviewed some of those candidates.
But what if he didn’t like anyone he interviewed? Then he’s likely to go back to the well and see what else has come in. In other words, he’s going back to the applicants again to see if there’s anyone better out there.
Why this would fall neatly on the week mark, again, I dunno. But I think it just has to do with the structure of the work week, the time period of the ad-buy, etc. It might just be human nature to remember you posted that ad two weeks ago Tuesday, and when this Tuesday rolls around, you’re reminded again.
So, there you go. If you want to play the odds, there are specific time periods after the job is posted that you might be more likely to get a response.
I should probably say something here about the data. These job applicants were from all sorts of backgrounds, in all sorts of industries with all sorts of qualifications. I did not control for any of that, so I don’t know if some people found success because they were better applicants than others or because their industries were hiring more than others.
In order words, this is very much anecdotal data. But it’s the only time I’ve seen any sort of answer to this question, so I hope it’s helpful.