job seeker working at their desk with an overlaying graphic of a clock

When is the Best Time to Apply for Jobs?

Use the Science of Timing to Run a Productive Job Search

There’s a lot that goes into getting a new job: searching for open opportunities, writing and editing your resume and cover letter, completing applications, following up with hiring managers, scheduling interviews, negotiating offers…the list goes on.

Each of these activities requires a certain degree of focus, attention, and strategy. Though what many job seekers may not consider is not only how but when we take on specific tasks may impact our chances of success.

In his new book, “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing,” Daniel Pink outlines the latest research on the science of timing, how the time of day affects our performance, and how we can use that knowledge to lead healthier, happier, and more productive lives.

For instance, exercising in the morning will help you lose weight as your body will use the fat stored in your tissues vs. the fuel from a day’s worth of meals. Exercising in the afternoon or evening will help you beat a personal record as studies show performance typically peaks 10 to 12 hours after waking up.

If you’re in the throes of a full-time job hunt, you may be wondering:

When is the best time to apply for jobs?

What are the best hours to work on my resume?

What should I do for my job search during my most productive time of day?

Here’s how you can apply Pink’s recommendations and the science of timing to run a productive job search.


job seeker at a cafe in the morning working on her job search



During the “peak” of our day – late morning to around 12 pm – our minds are the sharpest. Our body temperatures have slowly risen over the course of the morning and our energy levels are at their prime. We’re also much better at ignoring distractions and focusing on the task at hand. Spend your morning on job search activities that require your close attention, such as:

  • Writing, editing, and/or proofreading your resume and cover letter
  • Filling out applications
  • Crafting follow-up, thank you, and negotiation emails/letters
  • Calculating total benefit packages to compare job offers

job seeker addressing an envelope to send her resume to an employer



Pink describes the afternoon as “the Bermuda Triangle of our days—the place where effectiveness and good intentions disappear.” This “trough” in our energy and vigilance occurs in the early to midafternoon, but that doesn’t mean your job search productivity will tank completely. Strategically use this time for:

  • Organizing your inbox
  • Searching for jobs and saving ones you like to apply to later
  • Researching companies you may want to work for
  • Stuffing and addressing envelopes if you’re snail-mailing your resume and cover letter


job seeker on his phone and tablet networking in his industry



The third stage of our day is what Pink labeled the “rebound,” generally taking place in the late afternoon and early evening. While you aren’t as alert as you were in the morning, you should be in a better mood, which makes the “rebound” stage of your day the best time for creative work.

Your mind is also more open to seeing possibilities and connections that might not have been evident to you earlier in the day. The “rebound” stage is great for:


Bonus Tip: Take Breaks!

Regardless of your goals and when you decide to complete certain tasks, the science of timing shows that taking short 5-minute breaks is key. Make them frequent, involve some kind of movement, and do your best to fully detach from your job search efforts.

The benefits of taking breaks – boosted energy, reduced stress, and increased concentration, to name a few – are so impactful that Pink suggests adding these breaks to your calendar to hold yourself accountable. “Give it the same attention and reverence you devote to your to-do list,” Pink said.


When it comes to your job search productivity, it’s all in the timing. Armed with these latest findings and a clear understanding of when your best hours to work are, you can strategically plan out your day and run a productive job search.

by: Natalie Winzer, iHire
January 23, 2018

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