Keep Time on Your Side During the Job Search

Woman on laptop at home

In addition to updating your resume and brushing up on your interview skills, the timing of your career search is one of the biggest secrets to success. Everything from the time of year to the time of day can impact how favorably your application is received. Even though the average career search takes 8 weeks or so, here’s how you can time things just right to maximize your success.

Set up job alerts

By setting up job alerts on the career search sites you’d like to use, you can make sure you’re one of the first to know when a relevant, new job is posted and can respond quickly. You’ll typically receive a daily email with the newest job listings that match your preferences.

Take a daily job break

Set aside a specific time (or two!) per day when you plan to review these job alerts and apply to them. Job searches do take time, and spending a little time each day can help you find something new more quickly. 

By setting aside time each day, you can respond quickly to the jobs that interest you. You’ll also start to notice trends in the jobs you’re receiving. If most of your job alerts don’t feel like the right fit, it’s a sign some of your search parameters may need to be adjusted.

Make a Tuesday lunch date

The highest number of job postings go live on Tuesdays around 11 am. Most candidates will apply around 2 pm, so by setting a reminder to skim for new jobs during your lunch break on Tuesdays you can be part of the first batch of applicants.

Some months are slower for job posts than others. 

  • On average, the most jobs are posted during November, February, March, May, June and October
  • Fall usually picks up after a slow Summer
  • December and August are the slowest hiring months
  • January usually starts slow and picks up around mid-month

This isn’t a bad thing for your search, though, because there may also be lower competition for these roles during these times!

Respond quickly but thoughtfully

If you’re receiving a job alert, so are all the other applicants who have similar search settings in place. Your chances for landing an interview are higher if you’re part of the first wave of applicants. Typically, 60% of applicants respond within the first week a job is posted. 

If you find a job posting that has been live for a week or so, you can still apply. If a job posting is open, typically that means the position hasn’t been officially filled so there’s still a chance for you to apply and receive an interview. Just know that applying later does reduce your chances of being considered.

When you apply to a job listing a few days or more after it’s been posted, it can be helpful to connect with the hiring manager on LinkedIn. This can make your name more recognizable in their inbox and may help draw attention to your application. 

Prep a response kit

Hiring managers will receive a flood of applications in the first few days and will skim each one quickly looking for keywords and specific qualifications. It’s better to wait a day and respond with a more tailored cover letter and resume for each job listing than to respond quickly with a generic version.

Prep a folder on your desktop or in Google Drive that contains a few versions of your cover letter and resume based on the most common jobs you’re applying to. While the main information like your work history, professional skills and accomplishments will remain the same, you may present this information in a different order depending on the roles you’re applying to. 

When you see a role you’re interested in, you can use the version of your cover letter and resume that are most similar to the position and make a few final, quick adjustments.

  • Customize your “Why Me” statement to speak directly to the job posting. This is your opportunity to sell yourself in a quick professional summary at the top of your resume or in the online application. . You may include this at the top of your resume, or some sites, like The Mom Project, will ask for it during the online application process.
  • Reorder your professional skills. Place your list of professional skills and certifications in order of importance based on what the job listing states as the required skills for the job. 
  • Edit your work history. Keep the roles in chronological order, but feel free to reorder your accomplishments within each role to lead with the most impressive bullet point based on the new job’s requirements. 

Keep your response kit updated by reviewing it every quarter or so, even if you aren’t actively applying for jobs. You’ll be ready to respond quickly if a good opportunity pops up. Taking a look at your accomplishments every few months is also a great way to keep your value portfolio up to date, in case you have the opportunity to advocate for a promotion or ask for a raise in your current role.

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