Getting Ghosted On Your Job Applications? Here’s Fix #1: Apply Within 96 Hours

You’ve been looking for jobs for weeks. You spend your days painstakingly customizing resumes and crafting cover letters. After each application, you sit by your inbox repeatedly clicking refresh, anxiously waiting for a reply. You wait, and you wait, and you wait… until you finally receive a form rejection letter or give up hope after weeks of not hearing back. You die a little inside each time.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but I think we can all agree getting ghosted for a job (or anything) sucks. So, how can you minimize your risk of getting ghosted on a job application? By applying to jobs during their “Golden Hour” (the first 96 hours after a job gets posted), you can reduce your chance of getting ghosted by up to 8x.

Timing matters. If you submit a job application in the first 96 hours, you’re up to 8x more likely to get an interview. After that, every day you wait reduces your chances by 28%.

We analyzed a sample of 1,600 job applications to determine the interview rate (the probability of getting an interview from one application) vs. when the application was submitted (the number of days between when the job was posted and when the application was submitted).

Here’s what we found. In short, you can think about the timing of your job application in three different stages:

  1. The “Golden Hour”: Applications submitted between 2-4 days after a job is posted have the highest chance of getting an interview. Not only is there a difference, there’s a big difference: you have up to an 8x higher chance of getting an interview during this period, even if you’re submitting the same application.
  2. The Twilight Zone: Things are going from OK to real bad quickly here. Every day you wait after the “Golden Hour” reduces your chances by 28%. The longer you wait, the higher the risk that employers have already checked their inboxes and setup interviews with candidates that met their “good enough” bar.
  3. The Resume Blackhole: Honestly, it’s almost not even worth applying after ~10 days. On average, in the Resume Blackhole, any one job application has a ~1.5% of getting an interview. Put another way, if you send out 50 job applications, you might hear back from one (if you’re lucky).

Why? This is a well-known phenomenon internally that we’ve been seeing for months at TalentWorks, but it fundamentally comes down to the psychology of hiring managers. If you’re an employer posting a job, you need someone for that job. And you probably need that person ASAP.

Logical or not, if you’re that hiring manager, you’re probably going to give it a few days for enough applications to come in and then look to see if there are any good applicants. If there are, hooray! You’ll interview a few folks, give one an offer, and then probably forget all about your job posting. (One reason why resume blackholes exist.) If there isn’t anyone good enough, you’ll probably make a mental note to check back again in a few days (the Twilight Zone).

From your (the job-seeker’s) perspective, it’s no bueno if your job application doesn’t arrive before that employer checks his inbox for the first time. Every hour and every day counts.

To summarize: Timing matters. A lot. You’re up to 8 times more likely to get an interview if you apply in the first 96 hours that a job is posted.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Job in America Today? 84.3 Days for HR…

In the past couple weeks, I’ve talked to several friends and customers who’ve been feeling especially frustrated and confused about the job search. “If unemployment is <5% and there are so many jobs out there, why is my search taking so long? Is there something wrong with me?

They’re not alone. Forget the official numbers, it’s miserable out there for millions of Americans. Don’t believe me? Take one look at Twitter or Reddit and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

So, what’s the deal? How is it that unemployment is <5% but everyone you know and their mom is complaining about the job search? Well, there’s a lot that the official government lies about hides (more on that later), but I pulled some of TalentWorks’ data over the weekend to see if we could shine some light on it.

tl;dr: Yes, the US economy is adding jobs, but it’s still a serious pain in the ass for any single American job-seeker to actually get a job. No, there’s nothing wrong with you — it’s miserable for everyone.

This graph summarizes it better than anything I can say. With a standard (non-TalentWorks-optimized) search, here’s how long it takes to get a job for some of the most popular roles at TalentWorks:

How long does it take to get a job in America today? Forget 4.4% employment, it takes 84.3 days for HR folks, 94.7 days for sales folks, even more for others.

What gives? There are 3 major things going on here—

Job Applications, So Many Job Applications…

For starters, check out how many job applications it takes to get a job. For HR and administrative assistants, it takes 200+ applications to get a job! Even software developers (supposedly in dire shortage), need to submit 150+ applications to get a job offer!

If that doesn’t make sense to you, consider this: On average, you have an 8.3% probability of getting a job interview from one job application. That means it takes 10-20 applications to get one interview. And, on top of that, it takes 10-15 interviews to get one job offer (more on that later too).

This obviously varies by your specific role, past experience, location and about a dozen other factors, but it doesn’t vary that much:

RoleInterview Rate (%)
Property Managers10.2%
Project Managers9.3%
Human Resources Workers4.7%
Marketing Specialists9.7%
Software Developers6.1%
Mechanical Engineers10.1%
Kindergarten Teachers10.6%
High School Teachers5.3%
Sales Representatives5.9%
Office Managers8.6%
Customer Service Representatives10.0%
Administrative Assistants4.5%

Not Enough New Job Openings

So, how long does it take to submit 200+ job applications? Even if you’ve got brilliant AI and fantastic industry mentors on your side (sorry, I had to get that one in), there’s only so many new jobs opening up around you.

The number of new jobs per week varies dramatically by city and job role, but you can roughly assume it’s somewhere between 50 and 100 for most jobs and major cities.

How many of those do you (seriously) qualify for? Or are (seriously) interested in? Based on what we see, let’s say it’s about 10-25% for now.

All of a sudden, you’re now living in a world where you can only (seriously) apply to between 5 and 25 jobs per week.

If you need to apply to 150+ jobs, that’s 6+ weeks! And sometimes, it’s way, way worse. For example, if you compare the chart and table above, although mechanical engineers have a pretty high interview rate, there just aren’t that many mechanical engineering jobs out there in most cities. God forbid if you’re only looking at one city…

Slow, Ghosting Hiring Managers!

Who’s been ghosted by a hiring manager? (Everyone raise their hand…) It’s just a normal day in the job search. It happens so often, we even named it at TalentWorks: blackholing.

But, even when hiring managers are on their best behavior, there’s always a delay between when you start your job search and until you get a response.

For many competitive industries and roles, this delay can be quite short: 1-3 days. But, the less competitive your industry or role, the longer the delay. The more bureaucratic or traditional your industry, the longer the delay. And so on.

RoleResponse Delay (# days)
Property Managers1.1
Project Managers2.9
Human Resources Workers3.2
Marketing Specialists2.2
Software Developers3.0
Mechanical Engineers3.0
Kindergarten Teachers3.7
High School Teachers1.0
Sales Representatives6.1
Office Managers3.1
Customer Service Representatives2.4
Administrative Assistants3.2

When you look at the data, this effect is especially bad for writers: it can take 10+ days to hear back from a job application. But, it can be even worse for others: for nurses (not shown), it takes 30+ days on average to hear back from a job application.


@DameWritesalot called it: #FML. Right?

Here’s the thing. Whatever the official unemployment numbers say, it’s really hard to get a job right now. (It’s been really hard for awhile, actually.) There’s lots of reasons why and there’s even a few things you can do about it, but there’s something even more important I want everyone to understand—

The #1 thing I hear personally (and the #1 issue our amazing TalentAdvocates work with at TalentWorks) is just how depressing the job search is. Whether people say it or not, you can see it in their eyes and hear it in their words: “Is there something wrong with me?”

So, please hear me say this:

There isn’t anything wrong with you. There are good, reasonable, scientific explanations for why it’s so hard to get a job right now. And even though people don’t talk about it, it’s hard for everyone.

Stay strong, folks.

Where Are All The Missing Workers? Hiring Shortages Throughout the United States

Getting a job is hard. Nearly 79% of graduating college seniors didn’t have a job and 44% of twenty-somethings are under-employed. More than ever, it’s harder to get a job.

For years, people have been telling Millennials that we should study programming or get a STEM degree to get a better job. And while there are good jobs for software engineers and others in STEM, there are also good jobs in other fields.

In fact, not only are there good jobs, there are good jobs that companies can’t fill fast enough with people — for everything from accountants to lawyers to nurses to travel agents, everywhere from Austin to Salt Lake City to Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Hiring shortages in the United States: Since the inauguration, nearly 60% of job postings for lawyers and paralegals in Washington D.C. are going unfilled.

For the past two years, we’ve been indexing millions of jobs every month across thousands of job boards. Using this data, not only can we tell you where the in-demand, high-paying jobs are, but we can also tell you exactly which of those jobs companies can’t fill fast enough:

Hiring shortage for lawyers: Major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco

For example, since inauguration, it turns out that there’s been a huge surge in demand for lawyers and paralegals in Washington, D.C. In the past few months, nearly 60% of paralegal jobs by D.C. firms are going unfilled. Whatever your politics — Democrat or Republican, Libertarian or Green — if you’re a legal professional looking for a job, you’re going to have good luck in D.C. New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles are close seconds.

(Whatever you do though, don’t move to Texas. Like most states, there aren’t many legal jobs outside of the major cities, but most legal jobs in Texas get filled very quickly, meaning there’s more supply than demand of lawyers in Texas.)

Hiring shortage for accountants: Fast-growing, entrepreneurial cities like LA, Boston & Seattle.

Accountants, on the other hand, are having a great time in Seattle, Boston and Los Angeles — unsurprisingly, these are some of the fastest-growing, most entrepreneurial cities in the country.

Hiring shortage for licensed nurses: Providence, Salt Lake City and Chattanooga.

Licensed nurses? Check out Providence, Salt Lake City and Chattanooga.

We’ve been using this data internally for months, but we’re making this public to everyone now for the first time. If you want to see how painful your job search will be, plan for future career directions or just browse hiring shortages in general, check out