So, as the announcements about interviews begin to pick up, one of my letter writers has yet to submit my letter. This is a big name person that I'm relatively close with. I know it isn't personal - the letter writer has lots of letters to write and other work. I'm also behind on publications, so my chances are slim. Still, I've been painstakingly getting all my materials together and revising my statements. I've sent a couple of reminder emails, but the letter writer responds that it isn't a big deal for letters to come in late. Is this true? Would one think that if they were interested they would contact the letter writer directly? Or is the late letter a sign that the letter writer is unenthusiastic? I guess there is nothing else to be done though…
Date: 21 Oct 2010 01:01
Number of posts: 5
RSS: New posts
I was told to always send one more letter than requested in the ad (so I have four letter writers instead of 3), just in case one of the letters comes in late. Then at least your application can be considered complete. If you list your references on your CV, or in your cover letter, then I suppose they could contact that person for the letter, but I'm not sure how the process works. Sounds frustrating, though…Maybe you can start an outline for your letter writer with the highlights you'd like him/her to cover to help get them started?? Good luck getting your letter!
This also happened to me, and it was very frustrating. Given the large number of places I am applying to, I didn't want to trouble more than 3 people, so I gave polite reminders as often as was reasonable until some letters were finally sent. I also offered to take the snail mail letters to the post office myself bypassing the day or so it would languish in the university mail system. I think I bugged two of my references enough that they agreed to let me switch out the addresses and institution names and send the letters to them to sign.
I recently had a university where I applied for a clinical psych position email me because they did not have one of my letters (it was 2 weeks after the deadline). They informed me that they did not have the letter and asked me to contact my letter writer. I had no idea that he had not sent them so I contacted him, and he mailed them right away. A few days later, I received an email and stating I made the short list. Although when I first realized that for several jobs one of my three letters was over two weeks late I thought I had no chance at those places, but I was wrong. I think as long as you have your part of the materials in on time that if they are really interested in you they will not hold it against you that one of your letter writers is late. Again, this is just my experience; no empirical data to back this up. Also, I am not sure if I would ask for four letters if they state three. My academic advisor who has been on multiple job search committees told me that it is frustrating when applicants send more than is what requested. I am sure though that there are many different opinions on the issue (and no data on "best practice"); thus, at the end of the day, just do what you feel best about doing. That is the persepctive I am trying to take.
I think requesting more than 1 or 2 letters than requested isn't a huge problem and is probably smart in the event that one of your letter writers flakes out. I have been on a few search committees and it is very common for someone to have more than 3 letters. I think getting more than what is requested often comes in the form of extra manuscripts or other longer materials.