Applying to jobs can be a full-time job itself. It’s especially taxing if you’re already working. When do you have time to fill out job application after job application? After work, maybe. Before lunch, if you’re especially committed. But, here’s the thing: they’re the absolute worst times to apply for a job.

We’re always looking for ways to make the job search easier. While looking through our latest data, we discovered this nugget: Applying to a job before 10am can increase your odds of getting an interview by 5x.

what-best-time-apply-for-job
The best time to apply for a job is between 6am and 10am. During this time, you have an 13% chance of getting an interview — nearly 5x as if you applied to the same job after work. Whatever you do, don’t apply after 4pm.

We analyzed a subsample of 1,610 job applications (that were sent at random application times) to see how much time of day affects your likelihood of scoring an interview. Here’s what we found:

  • The best time to apply for a job is between 6am and 10am. During this time, you have an 13% chance of getting an interview.
  • After that morning window, your interview odds start falling by 10% every 30 minutes. If you’re late, you’re going to pay dearly.
  • There’s a brief reprieve during lunchtime, where your odds climb back up to 11% at around 12:30pm but then start falling precipitously again.
  • The single-worst time to apply for a job is after work — if you apply at 7:30pm, you have less than a 3% chance of getting an interview. You’re fighting another clock here (the number of days a job has been posted) but, at this point, it’s better to save your email until the next morning.

One really important (but subtle) aspect above: You have to send the application during the morning of the employer’s timezone. If you don’t manage against the employer’s timezone, the effect disappears.

What’s the big deal about morning and lunch? Well, there’s one really intriguing insight into what might be happening here…

A few years ago, a group of scientists from Princeton published a stunning discovery about bias in the judicial system. This wasn’t about money, sexism, racism — no, nothing like that. Instead, it was about coffee breaks. Seriously. (Here’s the original paper.)

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Your chances of getting parole depends more on when your judge had a coffee break, not whether you’re actually rehabilitated or not.

In short, if your parole hearing was scheduled after a judge got her coffee break, you had a 65% chance of getting parole. (That is, if you were lucky enough or if your lawyer was smart enough or if you were rich enough.) If you were scheduled right before break, you had a near-zero chance of getting parole.

How do parole hearings relate to the job search? Well, just that there’s two nameless, faceless committees of people who can change your life with the stroke of a pen…

I’ll let you connect the dots.

So much of life feels random and out of our control — applying for a job, for one. But really, when something feels random, it usually means that there’s something we don’t understand. When you discover what that is and start to understand it, you can begin the process of taking back control.

What does all of this mean? When you combine this with the last post in our series, there are already two big things that you can do to take back control in your job search:

  1. Apply to jobs in the first 3-4 days of a job posting; and,
  2. Apply to jobs before 10am (in the employer’s timezone).

There’s both an art and a science to the job search — in combination, just these two optimizations can (scientifically) increase your odds of getting a job by nearly 40x.


Are you looking for a job? If so, try ApplicationAssistant. In addition to your job applications being submitted before 10am, we also make sure your job is applied to in the first few days and that every other optimization is also followed — you’ll automatically get the benefits of everything we know about the job search.


EDIT 1: Holy smokes, Batman — this went viral. Reddit reports 25,000+ people in ~4 hours and it’s accelerating fast. As I’m not able to reply to all the requests personally or get ahead of the comment wave, I wanted to clarify a few things about methodology:

  1. This is a randomized controlled trial and so accounts for correlation vs. causation. Specifically, these are semi-automated job applications that TalentWorks submitted on behalf of our ApplicationAssistant users.
    • Job applications were randomly sequenced (and submitted) by our systems without regard to users’ qualifications, personality, experience, resume, etc. There is no correlation between application time and user traits.
    • We’re incorporating this study’s insights into ApplicationAssistant to make sure our users have the best, most optimized application possible.
    • This will inhibit our ability to do an analysis like this in the future, but our #1 mission is to help people get the job they deserve and that’s more important.
  2. This subsample of 1,610 job applications covers users across a wide cross section of experiences, roles and industries.
    • There are 30 distinct industries and roles represented in this subsample including sales, writing, software engineering and project management.
    • Work experience ranged from 0 years to 26 years, with an average of 6.7 years of experience per user.

EDIT 2: 100,000+ people in ~15 hours! And it’s still climbing fast.


EDIT 3: Looks like things are starting to taper out. 130,000+ people in 1 day!

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About the Author Kushal Chakrabarti

Mission-driven entrepreneur, world traveler (400K+ miles), dad to 100-pound German Shepherd. My #1 mission: To help you get the job you deserve.

12 comments

  1. Does this apply to online applications or in person paper applications only? My experience has shown that online applications end up in a long list of other applications that are sorted alphabetically by last name…

  2. Christopher— that’s a great question. This analysis focuses exclusively on online applications.

    Different people and companies have different processes (including sorting by alphabetical order), but several studies have shown (repeatedly) that there’s lots of unconscious bias in hiring and recruiting. Even though many companies try to control for these sorts of bias, they keep popping up no matter what. (And there’s obviously the companies that make no attempt to control for it.)

    What I think this analysis shows is that there’s another unconscious bias that people didn’t know about: when you apply for a job. Unlike race, gender, age or name, this however is one that you can control.

  3. You know why I hate this kind of stuff? Because it’s never about being qualified for the job. Like if Neil DeGrasse Tyson applied to teach science at your high school, but he did it four days after the job posted at two in the afternoon, he’d never get hired. What does that say about the employer?

  4. Can you give more info about the data? Are these professional jobs or in a narrow range of fields? Are the applications going to a real person vs a database at a large company?

  5. “1. Apply to jobs in the first 3-4 days of a job posting; and,
    2. Apply to jobs before 10am (in the employer’s timezone).”

    3. Should I apply on weekends or on weekdays or does it matter? 🙂

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