Why timing is everything when posting your job advert

by in Talent Attraction

Timing is crucial in an industry known for being fast-paced but the fastest time isn’t necessarily the best time when it comes to posting your job ads. Wave‘s Emily Buckley investigates the data on application timing to reveal the best times to post – and why it matters.

Time and timing plays an integral role in the world of recruitment. In such a fast-paced industry, it can feel like you’re constantly working against the clock. You need to get your job ad out as quickly as possible, candidates need to be found at pace, shortlisting and interviews need to be arranged at turbo-speed, and all to place a candidate in a job quickly. The longer the process, the more likely you’ll lose out on candidates to competitors  or candidates will drop out, lured by another job.

However, in the rush to find the perfect candidate for your client – and get there before your competitors – it can be easy to miss some essential components that make up the optimum candidate attraction strategy. There are some elements that need extra time spent on them and all need to be done at the right time. To get your ad in front of the highest number of talented candidates, you need to take the time to get your ad right and you need to post it out at the right time.

Post at the wrong time and miss candidates

Why is timing so vital when it comes to posting your jobs? Put simply, you need to be getting your job ads onto the job boards when candidates are actively searching and applying for jobs. Post later than those key times and you could be missing out on qualified candidates. Newly published data in the Wave Q3 2023 Recruitment Trends Report on time to apply shows that, for both weekly and 6-week listings, the majority of applications were sent 24-48 hours after the job was posted. This will largely be due to the job board algorithms that prioritise fresh content.

The more recently a job has been posted, the higher it will appear in the search results and the more likely qualified candidates will see it. Post your job after the greatest amount of candidate activity has occurred and it could be days before candidates visit the job board, by which point your job will have slipped down the search results. You want your job to be highly visible when qualified candidates are looking so posting just before that key time is essential.

Schedule your jobs for the right time

In order to ensure your job is being posted when you want it to land on the job boards, a job scheduling tool is vital. Once you know the best time to post your job, you can schedule it to post at that exact time so that you can write the ad, choose the job boards, schedule the job and not worry about remembering when to post it. And Wave data proves that this works. In the Wave Q3 2023 Recruitment Trends Report, scheduled jobs were found to receive an average of 27 applications in comparison to the 15 received for unscheduled jobs. That’s an average of 12 more applications per job and a huge percentage increase of 80% if you schedule a job rather than post it straight out.

The early recruiter catches the candidate

So, we know that timing is key but how do you know what the best time to post your job is?  Again, this is where data is your friend. Wave data consistently shows that the highest percentage of applications is received at the beginning of the week, in the mornings and across lunchtime. Mondays and Tuesdays are the favoured days for the majority of candidates, with that percentage slowly dropping with each day that follows and often almost completely dropping off at the weekend. This is a trend that we have observed for several years, dispelling the myth that candidates apply for jobs over the weekend. In fact, just 9% of applications are received on Saturdays and Sundays compared to 18% on Mondays and Tuesdays.

This is where you can really start to see why scheduling your jobs to post at the times when candidates are actively searching for jobs will lead to a boost in applications. If you post a job on a Friday, for example, perhaps to get it out before finishing up for the week, that’s a full three days before most candidates are looking for jobs. In that time, your ad will have been superseded by fresher ads for similar jobs and those candidates may not even see your advert. 

Time of day matters too and, again, Wave data reveals a penchant for applying for jobs earlier, in the first half of the working day. The majority of candidates submit applications between 10am and 1pm and not in the evening after work. If you want your job to be on the job boards in time for those candidates to see it, you need to be scheduling your job to post just before that active period, at around 9am. The data shows that most jobs are posted at 11am but the candidates that are applying at 10am won’t see those jobs so you’ll be missing out.

Shift-based industries buck the trend

All the data referred to up to now has been taken as an average across all industries but to work out what is most relevant for your particular industry, you need to look at data at a more granular level. For example, Wave has noticed that industries that tend to advertise a lot of shift-based roles (such as Health & Nursing, Hospitality & Catering, and Manufacturing), don’t follow the general trend. They buck the early in the week applications trend and show a more dispersed pattern, with far higher numbers of candidates applying at weekends as well as throughout the week. 14% of all applications for Health & Nursing jobs are received on Sundays, which is far higher than the general average. However, only 0.5% of Health & Nursing jobs are posted on Sundays, meaning that candidates searching and applying on a Sunday will find it harder to find your jobs that are posted nearly a week prior. It’s why it’s so important to check the data specific to the industry you recruit in.

Before you post, look first to your database

How many times have you received applications from candidates you already have in your system? In the rush to get your job ad out and get the candidate attraction ball rolling, it can be easy to overlook any candidates that you have saved from previous searches. Not only could this save you money in advertising credits, it can save a huge amount of time as you can contact those candidates straight away. This involves a mindset shift and a process change that requires all recruiters in your organisation to search your database before paying to post externally or to conduct a CV search – and it also requires recruiters to properly code their candidates – but it will mean you’ll be taking full advantage of what you already have.

Take the time to get your ad right

Posting your job at the optimum time won’t be enough if the content and the structure of the ad isn’t right and it’s not just about making it compelling (though that is important!). Content and structure play a huge part in optimising your advert for both Google for Jobs and for the job board algorithms. Get it wrong and you’ll automatically lose a number of candidates that won’t even see your job so taking the time to create an optimised, well written job ad pays dividends. Here’s a condensed version of what we recommend:

  • Standardised job title
  • Location
  • Salary
  • Average of 150-350 word length
  • Carefully weave in keywords
  • Limit to 5 bullet points per list
  • Limit to essential experience and skills and key responsibilities
  • Sell the benefits
  • Write for humans!

Time is one of the most valuable resources in the recruitment industry and never more so than at the candidate attraction stage. The right time to post your job isn’t necessarily the fastest time, something that will likely go against all your instincts as a recruiter to get your job out as soon as possible. But using data as well as instinct is crucial in the race for qualified candidates so taking the time to review the best times to post (and checking your database for relevant candidates that you already have access to) will help you to find those candidates more quickly in the long run.


This article was originally published on ukrecruiter.co.uk on the 30th of October 2023