Does it matter at what point you apply for a job? As long as the application is open and accepting resumes, you're good… right? Not so fast.

You're thumbing through job listings, and you're having some luck, favoriting a few that seem like a good fit. You'll come back to them tomorrow — or the next day — once you've tweaked your resume.

But wait! Before you move on, you might want to apply for those jobs now. Why? Well, the sooner you apply to a job after it's been posted, the better your chances of snagging an interview.

Timing's everything: When to submit your resume

When you come across a promising job listing, it's easy to bookmark it and keep moving. “I'll update my resume and submit it later,” you tell yourself.

But studies have suggested it's best to apply for a job as soon as possible. The closer you apply to a job after it's been posted, the better your chances of hearing back. A survey from the job-search site Ladders revealed you have the best chance of landing a job interview if you apply within the first 72 hours the position is posted online. If you wait to apply after that initial 72-hour window, your chances for consideration plummet.

Additionally, a 2019 Jobvite study found that some employers only consider the first approximately 50 percent (30 out of 62) of job applications that make it past the applicant tracking system. That means, even if you possess all the skills and experience you need for a job, you could lose out if you don't apply early enough.

Bottom line? The sooner you apply for a job, the better.

How to beat the crowds: Applying for a job before everyone else

Realistically, you can't sit glued to your computer screen all day while refreshing job listings. And if you already have a job? Your co-workers will certainly take note of your behavior. Here are a few tips that'll help you get a jump on the application process — without dedicating your life to job applications.

1. Opt into job alerts and sign up for daily email updates

If you haven't already, choose your two to three favorite job-search sites (no need to overwhelm yourself with more than that), and set up daily job alerts.

Many job-search sites allow you to opt into daily emails, which will deliver the newest job openings straight to your inbox. Or, if you're more of a phone person, you can set up push notifications for your go-to job-search apps.

This will save you time and prevent you from scrolling through the same job listings over and over … and over again. Plus, you'll find listings that have been posted within the past 24 hours to jump on!

2. Keep your resume fresh and easily editable

One of the biggest reasons you probably don't immediately apply for a job is because you need to make some tweaks to your resume. Or maybe it needs a major overhaul. Whatever its state, give it a good refresh so you can have it on hand and ready to submit.

Don't forget to make your resume editable, too. This will save you time when you want to tailor your resume for a particular job. The best way to do this is to build in areas that are flexible and can easily be adapted to address a number of variables. Then, save the document to a shareable server, like Google Drive, so you can access it and edit it wherever you are.

3. Play fill-in-the-blank with your cover letter

If you're in a field that loves cover letters, consider writing a standard letter you can easily tailor to different job openings. Sure, this might start looking like a Mad Libs game, but outlining your cover letter in a fill-in-the-blank style will allow you to apply for jobs more quickly.

4. Dedicate a 30-minute window of your day to job applications

Turning your phone into your own job-search headquarters can help you apply for jobs as quickly as possible. This is a great move if you find yourself with 15-minute windows of free time throughout the day, like on your commute or during a lunch break.

However, don't let the job-search process take over your life. If you need to, rely on those daily job alerts. Set a timer for 30 minutes in the morning or evening to comb through your notifications and apply to the jobs that interest you.

From there, having your cover letter and resume ready to go will help you cut down time and allow you to apply for those jobs more quickly.

Want to get your resume into tip-top shape so you can quickly apply to jobs? Our expert resume writers can help. Then, you'll never have to say, “Oh, I'll apply after I update my resume,” again!

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