is there anything wrong with sending job applications late at night?

A reader writes:

As a recent college graduate, I’ve been applying to a number of jobs and carefully tailor my cover letters and resumes to fit the job posting, etc. One thing I’ve noticed is that because it takes me quite some time to finish this, I often send in my application quite late at night. For the ones I send through email, I was wondering if hiring managers ever look askew at applications sent at 1 am or later, or if it’s not something they take into consideration.

I wouldn’t worry about it at all. I mean, you can always find someone who does hiring who has some crazy bias, but you can’t avoid them no matter what you do. I suppose that if you wanted to eliminate the chance that you’d run up against one of them, you could save the email to send the next morning, but I think it’s an unnecessary step.

{ 58 comments… read them below }

  1. Greg

    I agree it’s not likely to hurt. However, I am a firm believer in putting something you’ve written aside for a little while and then revisiting it with a fresh perspective. So it might not be a bad idea to finish that application, go to bed, and then read through it one last time in the morning before sending it off.

    1. mh_76

      Yes, do set it aside for a few hours before sending it, then review & send. If you’re doing an online app, most of them have a save progress feathre.

    2. jmkenrick

      I’m 100% with Greg on this one. I always discover at least one typo I didn’t see before if I set something aside for a few hours.

      (It’s possible of course, that you’re much better at not making typos than me…)

    3. Elizabeth

      I also follow this policy with important writing. I’ve written report card comments for students late at night, proofread them, thought, “That looks fine” – and then when I re-read in the morning notice things like calling a student by someone else’s name!

    4. Mike

      I have a story about this. I saw an opening for a position on a company’s website that was just fantastic. It had been posted only a week or two before. I worked on the application the whole evening, fixed up my resume, made a perfect cover letter, it looked great. Instead of sending it at 1am, I decided to save it and take one last look in the morning. When I logged on at 6:30 the job posting was down. I would have loved the job but never even got the chance to apply for it. I even tried to go to the HR director but he wouldn’t let me apply since the posting was now closed.

      Learned my lesson the hard way – get the application in.

      1. Elizabeth

        I wonder if they had already filled the position, and that’s why they took the posting down. If not, I’m not sure it speaks well of the company that they would refuse to look at an enthusiastic candidate’s resume because the posting had been down for five hours… if that kind of arbitrary decision-making is typical in the company, it could be a big headache to work there.

  2. mh_76

    Short answer: no. Long answer: noooooooooooo.
    There’s nothing wrong with it at all. In fact, depending on how the H.M. / HR department triages email/applications pulled from their Black Holes (online job app. systems), something emailed late at night may be read at the beginning or end of the email check, both good things because (it seems that) people are more likely to remember the first and (especially) last emails that they read (or songs/pieces that they hear performed or …). Hopefully H.M. (hiring manager/s) & HR will give equal time to the initial read of every resume (except the ones that are complete and total crap).

  3. kbbaus

    Nothing wrong with it at all. Later in your career, especially, a habit like that will show that you’re not doing your job hunting at work, on company time.

    1. moe

      Sure, but sending it at 6am or 7pm will show them the same thing… as well as that OP doesn’t have a strange sleep schedule.

      On the small chance it does come across the desk of someone who notices these things, why not just send it in the morning? For a typical entry-level job, there may be some value in showing them that you get up and start working early.

      Again, not that many are going to notice or care.

  4. Sophie

    During the last round of hiring my team did I didn’t even get to see when applicants submitted their materials. It all went through HR’s system first and then I picked who I wanted to interview from a list. So I would say, no it doesn’t matter…but Greg above made a good point about setting it aside for a while so you can take one last look with refreshed eyes. Makes a huge difference.

  5. Victoria

    Huh. I guess I’m in the minority here. I definitely notice if someone sends an application in at 2:00, and it does give me pause. Not enough to affect whether I move the person along in the process (I will almost certainly forget about it before I move someone along in the process), but it does make me wonder what’s going on that you’re online, working on something at 2 a.m.

    But then I’m happiest if I go to bed by 9. :)

    1. Just Me

      With all do respect why does it matter to you what this person does at 2 am? How do you know your current employees aren’t playing compter games, playing tiddly winks or making cookies at 2am?
      I guess I don’t get why you need to know that and why you care.
      Just wondering not aruging. : )

      1. Ellie H.

        It’s because we have a culture where it’s moral to go to bed early and get up early. We associate staying up late with “degenerates” like computer gamers, nerds, college students, teenagers, and drug users. People who don’t have enough self control to make themselves go to bed at a “reasonable hour.”

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          How interesting. I bet you’re right. As a huge night owl myself, I’ve flipped this around — I actually feel slightly suspicious of people who go to bed really early, like there’s something with wrong them for willingly giving up the clearly superior night hours.

        2. Anon2

          I suppose that could be true, or it’s just that the majority of people work a standard 9-5ish so it stands out when they see something different. It’s funny actually, how little people think of different shifts. I work a shift somewhere between a 2nd and 3rd shift time frame. So many of my earlier coworkers will say “oh, must be nice to sleep in” or “you have so much time to do things in the morning”. LOL, do I? So when you come in at 6am, you typically get up at 2 am to run errands? No? Me either. I’m working the same amount of hours you are and I’m doing chores and unwinding AFTER my shift too. So when I go to bed at 1 or 2 am, I’m not getting up at 7am so I can run errands at 8am. smh

        3. Heather

          It’s all Ben Franklin’s fault. If he hadn’t started with his “early to rise” crap… ;)

          1. Jamie

            Ha! I agree – he’s made it tough for those of us who don’t do our best work by 6:00 am.

            I don’t notice time stamps on emails for this kind of thing – not even for those sent in the middle of the work day by someone currently employed. Maybe I’m naive, but I assume that they are taking care of personal stuff on lunch or a break – like many of us. At least that’s my assumption until proven otherwise.

            Time stamps are irrelevant to me – what is a red flag is resume submissions from the current employers email address. Unless the whole company is going out of business and they all have carte blanche, it’s basically telling me they have no problem using their employers network and resources to find another position.

            Maybe it’s an IT thing – but I can’t see past that.

            1. Ariancita

              Ok, question: What if you use your own gmail address for work (because you work from home mostly). But you have your work contact info as a signature in your email (because most of your emails from the firstname.lastname@gmail account is for work) and you forget to delete that info? Would you see that as using “work” email address/network and ding it negatively? Even though it isn’t job/network specific? And given you might ding the person for forgetting to delete that info, how fatal would it be?

              For the record, I’ve never forgotten to delete that info, but I worry some day I will. (I have other email accounts for personal email, but the firstname.lastname is appropriate for professional emails, so for job apps too).

              1. Greg

                If you’re really worried, you could set up a separate email account and use that exclusively for your job search. Gmail lets you adjust your settings in order to have two accounts open simultaneously, or you could just use Yahoo if you think that will get too confusing. Also, some email programs let you create different “personas”, and you can set it so your work sig is only attached to messages sent from your work persona.

                1. Ariancita

                  Thanks for your input. I already have 7 active email accounts, not including my domain account (which has a whimsical name so not appropriate for professional correspondence), so I’m not keen on opening another. So I’m not actually looking for a solution, but wondering how bad it would be if someday I forget to delete the signature information on an email account that is clearly not current employer proprietary. Maybe I should just take my signature off altogether….

      2. Victoria

        I’m way late in responding here – sorry about that.

        Honestly, the initial (admittedly judgmental) reaction I have to a 2 a.m. email is a sense that the sender is disorganized, a last-minute scrambler.

        But a more realistic concern is that I’m always hiring for a traditional 9-5 job. I need folks to be alert and focused during those hours; it’s harder to do that if you’re still up at 2.

          1. Victoria

            Oh, totally. In my first comment on this thread I said upfront that it doesn’t factor into my decision-making; I’m just owning up to the moment of pause it gives me when I notice the time stamp.

            People who can live life on four hours of sleep a night? I envy them so hard. I truly cannot wrap my mind around that. I’m pretty much useless with less than six.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Yes! I used to have an IT director who preferred four hours of sleep and was amazingly good at his job. When he had kids, he was the only non-exhausted new parent I’ve ever seen.

              1. Jamie

                I love this. I’ve always said IT people are better prepared for parenting than most…because end users train us to feign patience and handle emergencies.

                On a serious note, I’ve heard about the people who need four hours of sleep before. Is that something that can be learned, or developed…or are they just superhuman and I should stop trying.

                I cannot tell you how jealous I am of the people who don’t need a full 8 hours – I could cry when I think of how much more I could get done if I had an extra four hours a day.

            2. EvaR

              As a natural night owl, unless you’re from New York City or something, you tend to develop that skill because most of the things you really need to get done are not open when you feel most awake and productive. If you need to go to the bank, buy anything you can’t get at walmart, or make a phone call, it generally has to be done between 8am and 5pm, and you spend your childhood in school, as well.

          2. Anonymous

            For the record, I’ll be up at least an hour or two still, and I have to be at work at 7:30am. I’m also a hard-working, efficient employee (just a weird sleeper).

    2. Heather

      What Just Me said…I don’t see why it would matter to you what time people go to bed. Just because you’re happier going to bed at 9 doesn’t mean everyone is. It kind of reminds me of people who have kids and tell me that I’m making a mistake by not having any (not saying you would do that!). They seem to think that the fact that I’ve made a different choice is somehow a negative commentary on their own choice. No, it’s just a different choice!

      Personally, I find it weird when I see emails sent at 6 a.m., but I wouldn’t judge the person for being up that early (well, unless they judged me for staying up late).

  6. Shane

    I have started turning off the data connection to my phone because the NPO I volunteer for is full of night owls who like to respond to the mailing list at night. I invariably (and somewhat involuntarily as I am too dumb to realize the consequences at 1am) reach for my phone and burn my eyes when I unlock the screen…

    It shouldn’t affect your application but I like the advice others have given. Hold onto it and give it a read before you send it in the morning. Not only will you have the chance to catch any small mistakes you overlooked the night before but you might save someone’s eyes!

  7. Anonymouse

    I’d just be a little leery about your work at a late hour. Are you a night owl? If not, then your work might show it. Maybe keep working and save it for the next day to proofread and send during regular business hours.

  8. Elizabeth West

    I don’t see why it would matter. Unless you’re sending a resume at 10 am that says “Currently employed at [Company].” Then they might wonder why you are doing that instead of working.

    1. Anon

      I’m wondering if I’m shooting myself in the foot by doing this. I am currently employed but come in at 9:30. I’ve been known to submit resumes between 7:30 and 9 in the morning.

        1. Mike C.

          Maybe you work second or third shift. Maybe your company gets a nice tax break from the local municipality for shifting the standard schedules a few hours back to avoid a huge spike in traffic. There are a bajillion reasons why the time might be “odd”.

          1. Bookworm

            Thank you. I rotate between all three shifts throughout the year (in fact, I willingly and gladly left my former 8-5). Not everybody has or wants to work a normal yuppie 8-5 or 9-5. Diversity makes the world go ’round.

            I would never judge someone based on a time stamp. Who gives a rat’s backside.

  9. MillenniMedia

    If someone is going to screen you out because you submit at an odd hour, it could be a red flag as to the type of manager they are. Screams control freak to me. You could be taking a class, juggling two jobs or enjoying a couple hours of peace after putting your kids to bed. Maybe you’re one of the few that functions best on a few hours of sleep. Who knows and really, what does it matter?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Exactly. I do a ton of work late at night (I email, post blog posts at 1 a.m. all the time, etc.) because I’m a night owl and that’s when I’m most productive. But even if that weren’t the case — maybe the person can’t sleep. Who cares?

      1. Maraca

        You are spot on. I’m in HR and have screened thousands of resumes so far in my career and I’ve never paid attention to the time they were submitted. If I told my hiring managers that I used that as a disqualifier, I’m sure that they would rally to have me fired. Focus on writing a great cover letter and resume (by using AAM’s advice!) and you’ll be fine.

  10. Corey Feldman

    As long as it is done well, no typos etc… Send anytime. Even if the recruiter notices the time it was sent, which is unlikely, the hiring manager won’t ever see that, most likely. Besides who cares if you are up late sending applications, I wouldn’t see that as a negative.

  11. Eve

    I actually knew someone who was extremely judgmental about the time. She rejected everyone who applied a few days before the closing date and late in the evening.

  12. YALM

    As a manager, I sometimes look at the time stamps on emails coming from the people who report to me. I don’t like seeing mails from the wee hours, so I check in when I see crazy time stamps.

    If you’re applying for a job with me, I don’t look, and I don’t care. You’re deal is yours. If I have questions or concerns, I’ll ask during the interview.

    1. Risa

      It’s an important distinction. I care what time my current employees are emailing me, because I want them to have a reasonable work-life balance. The work we do can generally wait until a reasonable hour in the morning for a response.

      For applicants, I wouldn’t think anything negative…. In fact, I might think that the applicant is really dedicated to the job search and eager to work, because they are putting longer hours. I wouldn’t think it necessarily indicative of their normal behavior, and it can be an exception because they are specifically looking for a new job. A job search done seriously can be like having a second job – every day searching postings, writing cover letters and sending out the resumes.

  13. Just Me

    I can’t imagine why it would matter. I am currently looking for a job and I have applied to all of them at night and a lot on weekends. Not as late as the OP ( OK one was midnight or so ).
    For me I obviously can’t apply during work. I walk after work and then come home and do house stuff, maybe make dinner for my hubby.. lol.. and THEN… sit down and look for a job. If I can get it together that night I send it. If not, the next night.
    Working full time and doing other things I grab the time I can and send away….

  14. HH

    And how about different time zones? I know some mail clients (like Gmail) can tell you what’s the time zone of the sender, but as a long distance job hunter I believe my emails might have been received at strange hours…

    However I totally agree that setting the application aside for a couple of hours before proofreading again helps a lot.

  15. TMM04

    One other thing to consider is that the time stamp showing time received on an e-mail cannot necessarily be trusted to show the exact time it was sent. I believe that internet providers send emails at different rates according to traffic and a bunch of other criteria that I don’t know about. Just because an e-mail says it was received at 3 am doesn’t automatically mean that’s when it was sent.

  16. Tracy Brisson

    I don’t make assessments on an applicant because I assume they have day obligations, but I have noticed a correlation with late night night work and disorganization with virtual people I’ve had on my team. Plus, we work with organizations that are open during regular hours and that’s when most of work should take place, even if it’s behind the scenes work. I talk about this preference during the interview and if I see someone sending a lot of late night emails, I’ll have a talk with them immediately to make sure they are prioritizing their work during the day.

    Kudos to the reader for thinking about these perceptions it will make it easier to adapt to a cultue when you get hired if you’re thinking about these types of questions now.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      For what it’s worth, I am one of the most neurotically organized people on the face of the earth and I prefer to do a huge amount of work at night. So I wouldn’t assume a correlation there.

  17. Just Me

    For all of you who like reading the morning paper.. please thank my husband and all the others that are delievering the papers in the trucks to the distrubution centers so that the paper person can get them to you in the EARLY AM.
    This is done in the middle of the night. He was at work at midnight and home at 5 am. Sometime he is at work at 3 or 4 am.
    So to answer some questions on here.. that is what some people do in the middle of the night. They are not degenerates, nerds or have organizational issues. They are simply doing a job.

  18. Anonymous

    As an employee who works swing shift, I get home about midnight. So submitting stuff at 2 am is a way of life for me. I’m trying to get a day job, but for now, I’m on swing shift. If there are hiring managers out there that are concerned about applications submitted at all hours of the night, they need to keep in mind that not everyone has a 9-5 job.

  19. S

    I never thought it was an issue. When I get a job, I adjust my hours, so it may be tough for the first few days to get up early, but my timings adjust quickly.

    Personally I’d love a night shift……that would be so awesome. but my husband would never go for it. boo.

  20. anon

    When I worked as a projectionist at a movie theater, I had a flex schedule that could have me working 9-5 one day, then 5p-3a the next, and 8-4 the following. Even now, in a regular retailer, my hours cab vary as early as 6am or as late as midnight.

    Recruiters should take these kinds of variances into account-a wildly inconsistent schedule could cause someone to look for a 9-5, and shouldn’t be held against them.

  21. Joseph

    I’m a college student applying for internships. I found this from a search because I wasn’t sure if I should send my email cover letter/resume in to the recruiter when I was done around 3am. Almost 5am now… I guess I’ll just wait anyways until around 6am-ish. And yes, I have class at 7am. Slept for 2 hours yesterday, and it seems I probably won’t get any tonight. I love college life (sarcasm).

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