By Gina Belli

Pay Scale, November 27, 2017 —

In work, as in life, timing is everything.

For example, did you know that research has shown that Tuesday afternoon is the best time to have a meeting? Similarly, timing could make a surprising difference when it comes to submitting an online job application, according to recent research from job-search startup TalentWorks.

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The Sweet Spot: 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Researchers analyzed data collected from 1,610 online job applications that were submitted at random times. Then, they tracked the applicants’ success at landing an interview. These job seekers had a wide range of work experience (from zero to 26 years) and came from a variety of industries.

They found that workers who submitted their applications between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. were nearly five times more likely to land an interview. (They got one about 13 percent of the time.) That’s a big difference.

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.

This report drew some other conclusions about the timing of applying for work online. TalentWorks found that the earlier an application is submitted, the better. After that 10 a.m. window has passed, the odds of getting an interview fell by 10 percent every 30 minutes. The exception: around lunch-time. When applications were submitted at around 12:30 p.m., they had about an 11 percent chance of leading to an interview. After that time, rates fell again.

The worst time of day, by far, for applying for a job online is after 7:30 p.m. Applications submitted then were found to have less than a 3 percent chance of leading to an interview.

Day and Distance Matter, Too

There are a few other important points to keep in mind when it comes to timing and applying for work.

These findings suggests that, whenever possible, job seekers should submit their application during this four-hour window. It’s important to keep in mind that these hours apply to the company’s time zone, not the applicant’s.

Workers who submitted applications between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. were five times more likely to land an interview.

The Earlier, the Better

First of all, it’s essential for workers to submit their applications within the first few days that a job is posted.

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%.

Previous research from TalentWorks found that applying within 96 hours of the initial posting makes an applicant eight times more likely to get an interview. The chances go down by 28 percent with each passing day after that.

The day of the week matters, too. Research from SmartRecruiters found that Tuesday is the best day to apply for a job. It’s also the most common day for companies to post new jobs.

Why Timing Matters

It tough to understand why some of these seemingly insignificant factors should matter so much.

“You know why I hate this kind of stuff? Because it’s never about being qualified for the job,” reads one comment on the TalentWorks report. “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?”

While that might be an overstatement of the findings, it is upsetting to learn that such trivial things could make such a big difference. There’s certainly ample research to suggest that timing can impact outcomes. The report referenced a study from a few years ago that found that judges were far more likely to grant parole after their coffee break than right before.

At the end of the day, timing matters, whether we like it or not. Job seekers improve their odds when they keep these factors in mind.