Monday, July 14, 2008

Reference Letters

I have started receiving requests for reference letters. Not people requesting reference letters about me - which was the norm all last year when I was applying for jobs - but people requesting reference letters from me. I now have a new appreciation for how difficult it is to write one of these.

Maybe it is because I have never written one or because I haven't read that many, but I'm rather unsure about what to put in it. It would really be a lot easier to just have a conversation. I know that this is also rather common - several of my referrers said that some of the search committees called them to discuss me. But, for the present requests, I doubt that will happen. So, for the mean time, I'm left with the letter.

I guess my main concern revolves around that fact that I actually do want these people to succeed - not that I would ever not want someone to succeed - but I do truly feel that these particular students do embody the characteristics necessary to succeed at what they are applying for. And, I am concerned that my letter won't carry the weight of some of my peer's (as I'm an Assistant Professor) or won't be as convincing (because I won't use the appropriate language).

But, for right now, I had better get started because one of them is due by the end of today.

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