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Apply Early or Late?


Some candidates request the first interview (hoping to set the bar high for the rest of the competition) while others request the last interview (hoping to leaving the strongest impression with the hiring manager).  Interestingly enough few people like the after lunch slot!  But I was asked this week if there’s an optimal time to submit your application.

For those resumes which are computer screened,  it doesn’t much matter.  But I’m one of those (call me old fashioned!) people who reads every resume.  Here are my impressions based on facilitating a number of searches at all levels.

Early Submittters

When someone applies within the first hour or even day an opportunity is posted, they can present as impetuous, too eager, almost desperate.  I find these candidates often have not:

  • Read the recruiting brief thoroughly to ensure they meet at least 75% of the specified qualifications
  • Conducted some initial research to develop at least a basic understanding of the scope, autonomy and accountability of the role and the culture of the organization
  • Tailored their Cover Letter to the specific opportunity so it doesn’t feel like a generic ”one size fits all” and/or “I’ll do anything” approach

Late Submitters

When someone applies within the last hour, particularly within the last 5 minutes (and it’s amazing how many people do this!) an opportunity is posted, they can present as disorganized, lacking in time management skills.

  • Some offer excuses (I just saw the posting, I had computer trouble, etc.)
  • Others just assume they will be given full consideration even if they miss the deadline by an hour, day or week

It depends!  For those of us who still read resumes, some of us screen them as they arrive while others of us wait until the deadline to summarize them in a competitive-comparative process.  Most postings attract high numbers of applications so unless your education, training, skills and experience are unique, you may jeopardize your chances.

Your application is your marketing document whose sole purpose is to get you called in for a face to face interview.  That means your cover letter and resume need to contain meaningful information and be submitted on a timely basis! It’s always a good idea to incorporate your cover letter and resume in a single PDF document.

So my recommendation would be to submit your application somewhere in between.  You can still request that first or last interview!