The Unknown Adjunct

April 8, 2009

Reference Roundabout

Filed under: Job Hunt,job placement — unknownadjunct @ 3:08 am
Tags: , ,

Jeeze … makes me think of the first time I faced a roundabout in the UK. Holy circularity Batman!

What is the deal with references in the academic biz? Businesses don’t bother to check references unless they are seriously thinking of hiring you. Most of the jobs I’ve applied for (thankfully) seem to do the same — a list of references and contact info is just fine. Then we have those who want the letters up front, and even go so far as to specify that letters must be originals.

Wonder what the back story on that was. Did someone do the old white-out and copier trick photoshop and pdf trick and get caught? Sign it in pencil? Plagiarized letter? Enquiring minds want to know! Or are the committees only doing this to make sure that folks with the proper pedigree and patents of academic nobility make it past the first cut?

As the noted philosopher George Carlin once said, “It’s a mystery.”

My committee members and other supervisors are more than happy to crank out letters on my behalf — but I couldn’t imagine having them do it 40 or 50 times. (And that may be a low number based on the number of apps required in the job market).

I tailor my CV and cover letter for every app — and thus far my committee is happy to do the same for up-front recommendation letters, but it’s beginning to be a pain. Is a “generic” recommendation good enough for those who just want a letter up front?



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