Does anyone have any insight about why so many departments do not accept some form of electronic submission for application materials? Submitting materials electronically seems cheaper, more efficient as well as environmentally friendly. I do not understand why electronic submission has not become the standard.
Date: 30 Oct 2010 00:03
Number of posts: 6
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There are many things that do not make sense to me in the application process. For example, in other fields you only submit a cover letter and a CV and names of references. That way 70-80% of the applicant don't even have to bother to ask letters from their advisors. There is so much waste and redundancy in all this but I guess the answer to your question is that they do it because they can.
I am one of the “they” of whom you are speaking—a department and search chair who has been involved in hiring many times over the years. I my department, we require research statements, teaching statements, and letters of recommendation, along with the cover letter and CV and let me assure you that each of these documents is read by a number of the faculty in our department before we begin phone interviews. We have not used electronic submissions in the past primarily because the majority of faculty members in the department prefer to read hard copies of these materials rather than reading electronic versions.
I'll tell you as an applicant that a number of the interfaces SCs use to facilitate the process limit the number of attachments and file size. It's difficult to send electronic versions transcripts and copies of student evals when both are requested. Moreover, even zipped folders and email attachments don't help with the sheer amount of materials requested. More often than not the extra materials are to be sent via snail mail anyway, so I elected to make it easier on everyone and send hard copies. Make the process easy on the SCs! After all, "they" are the ones who make the call or not.
I have little problem w/ the variability in requirements by institution. As the "one of the 'they'" commented, some places like being more thorough at the outset, which gives the applicant a better chance to showcase the entirety of his or her application. I'm still not sold that hard copies are the best (or even a good) idea… a) The presence of printers will allow any of those who wish to read hard copies to do so and, guest pointed out, will limit wasted paper (as well as stop these annoying threads about how to staple, paper clip, double side, etc… I mean, really? If that's what gets my application tossed, I most certainly do not wish to work in that dept). b) I really don't love the idea of the USPS being responsible for my future. I would much rather send an email (or submit via the interface) and get the automated "we got it" email than have to sit in wonderment (yes, obviously some previous negative experience behind this). I really like the, "send an email w/ everything in one pdf' to XYZ.com" vs. the interfaces. Though, I'm sure there is some institutional red-tape related thing that requires those goofy interfaces, but there are easier ways to be sure. I'd be curious to hear more reasons why hard copies remain preferred bc the, "I like reading paper" doesn't do it for me.
My university suggested I utilize a portfolio service (www.interfolio.com). It allows me (for a fee) to send either paper or electronic applications (but all electronically). Considering how much printing and post-office time it saves me it is worth it. Thoughts?