Thursday, May 22, 2008

Help Me Interpret, part II

Post doc and the annonymous commenter on my last post confirmed my suspicions about the post doc job I received an email about yesterday.

I was interested in hearing other's opinions on it before I gave mine because I am SO incredibly pissed off right now. When I sent this email to my current mentor she said "did you not find out about this job until long after it was posted?" So the consensus is that it's a timing issue and not one of qualifications for the job.

As it turns out this job was posted end of April, I wrote my cover letter and emailed my recommenders on May 2nd asking for letters (mailed my CV and cover letter that afternoon). Recommender 1 sent letter May 3rd, Recommender 2 sent letter May 5th. On May 15th I emailed Recommender 3 (my graduate advisor!!) to say "did you get this email about this letter I need" and they responded that they did get it but hasn't sent it yet because they had been swamped!

Guess what that means? The post doc job got the most important letter!! 2 weeks after the other two letters and all my other materials arrived (which means they got it yesterday or the day before) and they contacted me immediatly upon receiving it.

This is the 2nd job opportunity where I've gotten a "too bad your letter was so late" email. The last one was not my grad advisor, so at least it's not always the same person but I really feel like they're screwing me here! The letters are written-- all they have to do is change the contact info, I try to give them as much notice as possible.. how fucking hard it is to find the time to print it out and give it to the department secretary???

So here's to hoping that they hate all the first rounders and I actually get the chance to interview.


post-doc said...

Oh, ick. In the current market, your references can not screw around - this is important stuff and if opportunities are missed because someone is 'swamped,' you need to be immediately informed so you can go to plan B. I'd personally be polite but clear about how vital it is that materials get sent in a timely manner.

(SO sorry about this! It really sucks. I hope the first round applicants are terrible.)

Mamabeek said...

That sucks horribly! It's a familiar tune to me, too, though. Had this happen on jobs and also when I was applying to various graduate programs. I agree w/ post-doc that people need to let you know what their time frame is for writing letters so you can ask someone else if need be.

I was just told that I should ask some of my profs for letters of rec NOW, for internships with application deadlines all the way in November!!! I'm glad for the heads up though, because it would suck to ask in August only to learn they can't get to me because they have so many other students already in line. But as you say, if the letters are already done and all they have to do is print and mail, that's pretty lame.

Is it possible to hand them an addressed, stamped envelope to help the process along?

I sure hope first round is unsatisfactory and you get a fair shake at this job.

Psych Post Doc said...

Thanks for the comments. I am still pretty pissed about this and I am waiting to see how it all plays out before confronting my GA.

You are both right that LOR are so important especially in this job market. It's even worse because I do not really have a plan B given that this is my GA, people are going to really wonder why I don't have a letter from my grad advisor and that alone could impact my job candidacy.

Maybe after the holiday weekend I'll hear about some of the other jobs I applied for and then this won't sting so much.

Mamabeek- my post doc mentor is GREAT about sending letters the day I ask. It's my 2 GA who have been late and they each live 6 hours away in different directions so nope, I couldn't just hand them the envelopes. I wish.

thenextfish said...

I personally give my referees at least two weeks notice when I need them to write for me. If I need something last minute I'm always very apologetic and give them the option to back out.

Having had to write references for multiple students at once in the midst of research and lecture prep I can sympathise with your referee. It DOES add up. So I think you can only be pissed off if s/he didn't complete it by a deadline you indicated.

Are you sure they hadn't advertised earlier because that is an incredibly fast moving process!

Great idea for a blog - it's so easy to get lost in postdoc land - you've motivated me to go finish writing that article!

Psych Post Doc said...

Thanks for the comment the next fish.

All that you say is very true and I try to give as much notice as possible as I too have had the never ending letter writing that can drive you over the edge.

However, I am in a unique position as my letter writers have been sending letters for me since Oct as I applied for a couple of tenure track jobs. Then most recently I started applying for non-academic positions and spoke to my letter writers about the different between the two.

I told them that 1. I'd only be asking for letters when the job ad specified it. 2. Non-academic jobs tend to move really quickly so I need them to send the letters ASAP. 3. I would send them the job description and my cover letter but that if they didn't have time to do too much editing for each job I totally understood.

Then when I send a request I always remind them that I need it ASAP (or by the deadline if there is one in the job ad), and to let me know if this is problem.

My GA never wrote me back at all, thus I am pissed. In the past GA has not written me back but then later says "oh by the way I sent that letter last week when you asked" so I just assumed that was the case this time and the letter was sent.

And yes, this is definitely the first time that job was posted. It's a research center associated with but separate from a major university. Perhaps things just move faster there.