Beki Grinter

Help Requested: Managing Reference Letters

In academia, discipline, research on November 15, 2011 at 2:47 pm

It’s the time of year when the academic search kicks into high gear. Conveniently this is timed to coincide with the end of the academic semester and the deadlines for a variety of grants. I doubt I’m alone when I say I need help from the person who wants my letter in managing the letter writing process.

One thing that has helped me in the past is a spreadsheet where I can see what’s due, and what I have to do to submit the letter. I’ve had a variety of spreadsheets. What works best for me is the least amount of information I need to be able to make the submission. Name of place, department, means of submission and deadline. That may well be different from what the candidate needs, but I need to be able to see the entire critical content in one screen on my laptop, because frequently that’s where I am sending letters from.

Some institutions have electronic systems that trigger letter requests which also helps me manage my process. It does so because when I receive the request I can process the letter and usually I remember to update the letter tracker. Other institutions do not actively prompt the letter writer to send the letter. Then I like the applicant to send me an email with the submission instructions, which prompts me to submit that letter.

So, I’m asking job applicants to help me help them recruit. I need a place where I can quickly see what’s due and log what I’ve done. I also need reminders about what does not trigger automatic letter requests. That way I can do this in a timely manner while still coping with everything else I’m doing!


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