I am wondering folks thoughts on LORs. I am mixing and matching letter writers by what they can speak to (teaching, pubs, areas of expertise, etc.). Do things matter like Assistant vs. Associate/Full, whether the writers are from your home institution, etc.? Any thoughts on how you think about letters of rec would help.
Date: 04 Aug 2014 03:02
Number of posts: 6
RSS: New posts
Being on a recent faculty search committee, I'd say that it's a good idea to have at least one senior faculty member or administrator (e.g. a dean) write you a letter. You should also be sure that your dissertation adviser writes you a letter if you're finishing your studies or graduated in the past 5 years. The same goes for any post-doc supervisor you might have or have had. If you're currently in an academic position, a letter from your department chair would be an asset. Finally, if you're applying to SLAC positions or teaching focused institutions, be sure that you have at least one letter from someone who can elaborate on your teaching and work with students.
Finally, so long your writers are familiar with you and can provide specific information/examples about your activities, then where they're at doesn't matter too much. But, lacking a letter from someone at your present place of employment looks bad. The same goes if you've graduated or completed a post-doc recently - not having letters from an adviser/supervisor also looks suspect.
Does it really make sense for someone who just started a 1-year postdoc to need a letter from his/her supervisor, even though they've only been working together for maybe a month or two by the time he/she is applying for those first october jobs?
I'm tenured and I'm not sure I'd feel safe asking my chair for a LOR, and he's super nice (and likely understanding)! I think he'd have nice things to say, but if I don't get a new job, I assume things would get real weird after…
DocJ did you really see that many LORs from a current chair, dean, or colleague?
@ Anon - If one has only recently started a post-doc, then indeed not having a letter from the supervisor would be okay. However, I'd still list the post-doc supervisor on my reference list and would alert him/her to your job search.
@ Anonbanon - For the faculty search I was a part of about half of our finalists had letters from a current chair or dean. All finalists had at least one letter from a current colleague. While it's uncomfortable to request letters from people at one's current college/university, it definitely causes search committees to question "what's up" with a candidate who sent in an application with no letters from current colleagues/higher ups. Perhaps the best way around the awkwardness is to seek a letter from a trusted colleague who's familiar with your teaching and research (or service) and confidentially request a letter.