Because I do not want my current colleagues to know I have an intention to apply to other schools, I am not going to ask any of them to write me letters of recommendation. I wonder if you guys could suggest some good ways I could convey this in my cover letter? Thanks.
Date: 28 Jul 2013 14:40
Number of posts: 5
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How long have you been at your current institution? Last year, when I was on the market, having been at my then institution for less than a year, not having recommendations from that institution was a non-issue. During interviews, I was asked why I wanted to leave where I was, but that was easy enough to answer because my commute was very difficult and there was no way to make it better (my two-body situation prevented improvement). Again though, that only came up during the phone interview phase. If you've been at your current institution for more than a year though, you may want to confide in a colleague you trust who can speak to your teaching/research and get a letter from him/her. In recent years, I've come to believe that most faculty and even administrators are understanding of the fact that sometimes, despite the best of intentions on everyone's part, a better fit is needed and therefore, sought. Best of luck!
Related question — I will be starting my second year at my current institution this fall, and plan to go back on the market. I have told two of my assistant professor colleagues. Do you think a rec letter from one of these folks would be acceptable, or should it be from a senior/tenured faculty member? Honestly, the assistants know me better, and there aren't many senior faculty in my department (we're really small). One of these folks started the same time as me (so also going into her second year), and the other is starting his fourth year, and so has a bit more experience. I just worry that some places might not see these folks as being experienced enough to evaluate me (but then again, my advisor was still an assistant prof when I was on the market two years ago).
AND, if I do get a letter from one of these folks, should I still use the three letter writers from my grad program that I had before (and have four letters total), or drop the one that knew me the least well? My understanding is that his letter was strong (though I never read it, just heard through the grapevine), but I didn't have a ton of contact with him during my program so it probably wasn't very specific.
I am in a very similar position so am wondering a very similar thing.
Your graduate program writers' letters will only be effective if you've had significant contact with these people within at least the past year. If you've fallen out of touch with these people and haven't had much collaboration with them, then their letters may not hold as much weight as would those from people at your current institution. That said, I think it's necessary to still have a letter from your primary dissertation advisor.
Going into a job search while in an academic job is a challenging process with lots of potential pitfalls. I suggest sleuthing through the Chronicle of Higher Education's "advice" sections as there are some good articles on this from about 2009, if I recall right.