Job Searches Peak Tuesday at Noon

Sunday night is the best chance to snag more-educated job seekers, study shows

By Roy Maurer Jul 11, 2017
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Employers aiming to get their ads in front of the most job seekers should post openings around lunchtime on Tuesday, and those looking for more-educated talent should advertise Sunday evening, according to new data from Indeed.

The Austin, Texas-based job search engine analyzed the millions of queries conducted on Indeed's U.S. site in 2016 to determine the timing of job searches and how search patterns vary depending on job seeker characteristics.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: How to Target Passive Job Seekers]

What value does this data have? "Timing matters … in the hiring process," said Indeed Hiring Lab economist Andrew Flowers. "In today's tight labor market, employers face stiff competition for talent, so it's important that job postings reach the widest possible audience. Posting a job at the right time just might improve your chances of making a great hire."

According to the Department of Labor's American Time Use Survey results released June 27, an average 1.2 percent of Americans searched for a job each day in 2016. Job seekers spent on average 2.5 hours per day in job search activity—up from 1.8 hours in 2006.

But what time of day and on which days of the week are most people searching?

The Indeed data show that the start of the week is the busiest time for job searches. "During the typical weekday, search activity follows a logical pattern," Flowers said. "Each day, the peak is in the late-morning to early-afternoon period from about 10 a.m. until about 2 p.m. After that, job searches decline through the afternoon. In the evening, after most people have completed their workday, activity picks up again."

Laura Mazzullo, owner of East Side Staffing, a New York City-based recruitment firm focused on placing HR professionals, said that in her experience, employed HR professionals will search for roles in the evening when they get home. "This is often due to not wanting to search during work hours for obvious reasons. They are slammed with full days of work and wouldn't want to jeopardize their confidentiality by applying for things from a work computer," she said.

Searches are highest Monday through Wednesday, with the peak hour for the entire week being 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Tuesday.

As the weekend approaches, job searching drops off, according to the data. "The drop between Thursday and Friday is sharp, and the typical evening spike is absent Friday as most job seekers cut loose for the weekend," Flowers said.

Weekend job search activity also tends to be minimal, with Saturday easily the least popular day for job seekers.

"I actually find it surprising that job search activity trails during the later end of the week and weekends," Mazzullo said. "In my experience, most job seekers prioritize time on Saturday and Sunday to network and apply for roles."

Sunday searches start slowly, according to Indeed, before slowly rising through the afternoon and peaking around 9 p.m. "Many people spring into action on Sunday evenings with the upcoming workweek staring them in the face," Flowers said.

That's especially true for job seekers with at least a four-year college degree. More-educated job seekers, whether employed or not, "demonstrate an explosive search uptick Sunday night. So, if you're an employer hoping to lure highly educated applicants, post jobs Sunday evening," Flowers said.

Other findings from the Indeed study include the following:

  • The peak search period for employed people is after work hours, specifically from 7-10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. It rises sharply again between 6-9 p.m. Sunday night.
  • Unemployed job seekers do most of their searching during the late morning and afternoon from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Job search activity for this group slows down in the evenings and on weekends. "Active job seekers will likely be working on their job search as if it was a full workday," Mazzullo said. "I know many active candidates who search Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 as a full-time job. It depends on the level of urgency to find a new position and the amount of time people are able to commit to the job search."
  • Less-educated job seekers—those with less than a four-year college degree—do most of their searching midday and are comparatively less active weekday evenings than people with four-year college degrees.

Mazzullo stressed that hiring and recruitment have always been about ideal timing for both employers and job seekers. "Employers need to post open roles when they become available, which may not always be aligned with when candidates are searching," she said. "They should also be aware that most working job seekers will apply in the evening and out-of-work job seekers will likely apply during the day."

She pointed out that ultimately, when someone applies isn't as important as who applies. "It's always about getting the right person for the role," she said.

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