Should I Use Interfolio?

[Sept 2019 update: the fact is, Interfolio is unavoidable for many searches and required in a number of fields. The advice here is mostly outdated. I’ll leave it up because I still think it’s worth asking ourselves why this tech adaptation became necessary and what it says about the academic job market. But in terms of practicalities…  you’re probably going to end up using Interfolio or another similar site, and it probably is going to be just fine in terms of how your letters are received. Thanks to those who have commented to this effect over the years].

Today’s Post is a Special Request post for XXX, who asked the $64,000 question: should I use a dossier service like Interfolio?

If I had my druthers, this post would run like my previous one on edited collections—ie, variations on “no.”

Fundamentally speaking, nobody who is on the scholarly, tenure track job market should be using a dossier service for their letters.

However, it has come to my attention that quite a few Ph.D.s on the market ARE using such services, for a range of reasons. The reasons that I’ve heard include the following:

  1. My professors insisted I use a service
  2. My professors have proven themselves to be totally unreliable and my only hope of being sure of letters arriving by the deadline is if they come from a service
  3. My professors seem really busy and I already bothered them last year, so this year I think I should use a service.
  4. I am a control freak and want to control how and when my letters are sent out.

There are only two reasons among these four that have a modicum (and it’s only a modicum) of validity.

These are #1 and #2 . If your professors have proven, through their past behavior, that they cannot and must not be counted on to provide letters on time for your job and postdoc and grant deadlines, then, and only then, are you justified in considering (not immediately turning to, but considering) a dossier service.

Similarly, if your professors have told you point blank that they refuse to write fresh letters for students in general/you in particular and that they will only consider providing one for a service, then, again, you may consider using a dossier service.

However, in principle, nobody who is on the scholarly, tenure track job market should be in a position in which their supporters are not writing them fresh letters.

The fact is, in all the searches I conducted (11) over the course of my career, I never once—not even one time—saw a candidate short short listed, ie, invited to a campus visit, who had a letter that came from a dossier service.

It is hard to overstate the importance of the personalized letter. The custom of personal letter writing reflects one of the most fundamental values of the academic community. Ph.D. level training is slow, painstaking, and highly individualized. It is not a mass market process, and it never can be. Its extreme personalization, based on a relationship built over years between a graduate student and his/her advisor, means that every Ph.D. student finishes with the personal imprimatur—and de facto sponsorship—of that advisor, as well as a committee of other deeply invested faculty members. These relationships at the heart of the graduate enterprise are reflected in the lengthy, detailed, and personal letters of reference that the advisor and committee member write for the student.

There is no clearer sign of the neoliberalization of higher ed than that this relationship has broken down to such a degree that there are advisors all across the country, including extremely well known and influential ones, who will do no more for their Ph.D. advisees than write a single generic letter to be put into a dossier file.

It is a core duty of faculty to write letters of recommendation. This is not an optional part of the job; it is a required part of the job. A faculty member certainly is not obliged to write for every student who asks. But a faculty member is obliged to write for those students whom he or she genuinely supports, and for whom he or she is a major element of their educational experience.

[Addendum: Faculty have computers.  Computers have files.  Letter files can be easily customized by simply adding a new heading/address, first paragraph, and closing paragraph. Each individual letter is not completely different.  Rather, each letter is sent out with a tailored address, a few sentences appropriate to the job, and a  live signature.

There may be field variation, with some fields more likely to accept such letters.

At the same time, it’s important to understand that the quantity of letters that a professor has to write is not in and of itself justification for turning to a service.  Many professors have lots of grad students applying for lots of jobs (my Ph.D.s applied for 25- 50 jobs in any given year, as did my colleagues’, and yet we all wrote personalized letters). It is typical in the Fall job season to hear faculty groaning about the “25 letters I have to write today,” etc. etc. ]

What does this mean for you, the applicant? It means that you need to start out with the expectation of having individualized, personalized, and tailored letters written for you for every single application you submit. It doesn’t matter how many applications you submit, or over how many years. You are justified in expecting that from your main group of recommenders. Just because they “seem” busy, or you “think” that you’re annoying them, doesn’t mean you should not ask them in a courteous but determined way.

If a letter writer is proving unreliable or obdurate, then the solution is not to then give up and beg for a dossier letter, but to find a different, and better, letter writer.

You are not tied to your committee members for your letters. In fact, the most successful candidates will have letters from leading scholars around the country, and not just from their Ph.D. granting institution. You cultivate these relationships over a period of years, by getting to know senior scholars in the field at conferences, during their visits to your campus, or through polite email correspondence. While asking external scholars to write for you can be delicate, as those scholars might have their own Ph.D. students on the market as your competition, nevertheless, it can often work very well indeed. And be aware that having a letter writer from outside your Ph.D. institution adds greatly to your reputation, in that when that letter writer indicates that you are among “the top 2% of students with whom he’s worked,” the total includes his university, in addition to your own.

It goes without saying that reason #4 has no place in the decision making process about letters for your applications. It should be evident by now why. The relationship of trust between the applicant and his or her letter writers is a reflection of the quality of the applicant’s graduate training itself. An applicant who is demonstrating that he or she does not have sufficient trust in faculty mentors to submit letters on their own is communicating a profound message about the quality of his or her graduate education and the attitude that he or she might bring to the new department.

Having said all of this, there are good and bad ways to request letters. A frantic email at midnight, 2 days before the due date, with no email address or mailing address or even full description of the thing being applied for is the bad way.

The good way is an excel spread sheet that has columns clearly listing:

the job/grant

the deadline

the contact email/website

the snail mail address (still essential for the heading of the letter, even when it is sent electronically)

the contact person’s name

the description of the job or grant

notes about the applicant’s ideas for tailoring and the strengths and weaknesses of his candidacy.

This spreadsheet should be created at least a month in advance of the deadlines, and 2 months in advance if possible.

If a candidate provides this exhaustive information in a timely fashion, then the occasional last minute lapse for a sudden, unexpected opportunity will be forgiven.

So to conclude, the dossier service is a poor, poor substitute for individual tailored letters. It is becoming more and more common in recent years, and is even being demanded by an increasing number of advisors. Nevertheless, candidates should be aware that they are entitled to expect individual letters from their dissertation advisors and committee members, and should be aware that the refusal to provide these represents a dereliction of duty. To the extent possible, candidates should seek to replace unreliable and irresponsible letter writers who will not provide individual letters with better ones who will. Where that is not possible, then, and only then, can a dossier service be entertained as a substitute, with a full understanding of the risks.

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Comments

Should I Use Interfolio? — 91 Comments

  1. Is it possible that this is a field-specific issue? Because everyone in my PhD program (in English) uses either the internal department dossier service or Interfolio, and we have one of the highest placement rates in the country for our field. In a full search, a job applicant in English seems to apply to between 50 and 100 jobs; I’ve already got a list of 10 jobs I’ll be applying for and the MLA job list (the main way of advertising jobs in my field) hasn’t even been posted yet. Many of our advisors have multiple students going on the market at the same time–my advisor has five people he’s writing letters for (which would work out to 200 personalized letters, on the conservative side!), and the director of our teaching program is writing letters for more than a dozen. Also, our placement officers encourage using the dossier services because it allows them to check our letters to make sure no-one says odd or bizarre things in our letters. This has saved more than one grad student from having an external letter writer say really bizarre, inappropriate things (such as one external writer saying how horrible a graduate program was for not hiring him years previously).

    • It is possible that it’s field specific. I know History as a field is more likely to use these as well.

      It’s important to understand, though (and I’m actually going to put this comment into the text of the post), that the quantity of letters that a professor has to write is not in and of itself justification for turning to a service. Many professors have lots of grad students applying for lots of jobs (my Ph.D.s applied for 25- 50 jobs in any given year, as did my colleagues’, and yet we all wrote personalized letters). It is typical in the Fall job season to hear faculty groaning about the “25 letters I have to write today,” etc. etc.

      Faculty have computers. Computers have files. Letter files can be easily customized by simply adding a new heading/address, first paragraph, and closing paragraph. I am not saying each individual letter is completely different. What I’m saying is that the letter is sent out with a tailored address and a live signature.

      I get that there may be field variation. But what I think is happening is that students are being too quickly and easily put off with a second string solution.

      • In my field of art history, Interfolio is very common. I used Interfolio for all my job and postdoc applications, and over the course of my 2 years on the job market, I landed 7 campus visits and ended up at an R1.

  2. This is completely wrong. I’ve been on about a dozen search committees, and *never* has the dossier service issue come up in any substantive way, except for candidates who had letters missing because they didn’t use one.

    I’ve seen plenty of dossier-using candidates make first and second cuts. And given the number of applications a candidate needs to send out at this point in our absurd market, the dossier service is a great kindness to both candidates, advisors, letter-writers and (given the organizational challenges of getting hundreds of applications with loose, delayed letters) search committees.

    Yes, tailored letters are best, IF your letter writers actually know enough to write them. In most cases, what the candidate needs is not tailored letters, but letters which address all the critical aspects of academic life, including research, teaching and service: generally, each letter-writer has one or two areas on which they can write authoritatively (and believe me, search committees can tell when letters are vamping or guessing without real value), and they should, with a clear recommendation which does not presume a particular kind of job.

    That’s what constitutes a good letter: one which is based on experience, real judgement, and which makes it clear (a common complaint of those of us at lower-tier teaching-oriented institutions) that the candidate isn’t looking for a completely different kind of job than the one offered.

    What is a candidate going to get who insists on individual letters? At best, in most cases, one or two well-tailored letters, and a lot of letters in which find-and-replace have been used — sometimes not all that well — to “personalize” an effectively generic letter based on the first one.

    • Jonathan, you say this is completely wrong. And then you say tailored letters are best! Contradiction alert.

      I would say this sums up the weird prevailing attitude toward dossier services in the academic job market right now.

      As you say, tailored letters are best. I am not really following your logic as to why most students won’t be able to get three of them. If a student has spent 6-10 years in a program and a field and can’t find 3 (three!) people who can write substantive letters addressing their research, teaching, and service, that says something about the student.

        • Yes. Now I’m on the tenure track and nearing tenure (one hopes) and I applied with a dossier service, just like most of my younger colleagues. It is not reasonable to expect a letter writer to send out 25 letters on your behalf, end of story.

  3. I’m not sure I agree with this one! Maybe there’s some disciplinary variation here? At my Ivy graduate institution it has been standard operating procedure to use a service for job letters since (at least) the 90s. It was the university’s own dossier service until they outsourced it to Interfolio. Everyone asked their letter-writers to update the letters every year, and most people only used the service for job letters–people generally asked for non-dossier-service letters for fellowships and grants (which are few and far between in my field). Then again, it was not uncommon in my field for people to apply for upwards of 30 jobs per season; for those whose dissertations spanned several fields, it could easily be double that–that’s an awful lot of individualized letters for a faculty member to write who has several students on the market at any given time.

    • Nobody said being an advisor was easy….

      Seriously, I get that there may be a range of practices in different fields. But the fact that it’s hard to write lots of letters is not in itself justification for not doing it.

      • In a response below you speculate that the difference may have to do with gender/status of department. I suspect that it may also have a lot to do with field and scale-of-field. Much as I like to look to the neoliberalization and corporatization of the academy as the inherent evil behind everything, I think it this case the use of dossier services has more to do with the the sheer volume of work generated by the wonky job market. (And yes, look to neoliberalization and corporatization to explain WHY the academic job market is the insane lumbering behemoth it is, but that’s another conversation…).

        If I had been in a small field with a small department, where I was one of a handful of advisees (say, one of 5 Ph.D. candidates on the market) and applying for a a handful (say, 10) academic jobs in my area, hitting my adviser up for a personalized letters would have seemed like a reasonable thing to do (particularly in a smaller field where it’s entirely possible that my adviser would personally know members of the relevant search committees). That would mean that the faculty members writing letters would each be writing 50 letters apiece in any given hiring season. That seems entirely reasonable, even more so if everyone gets jobs the first or second year out.

        I’m in English, in a Ph.D. program that took placement seriously and had a fairly good record. I estimate that during the three years I spent on the job market, I sent my dossier out for something like 400 jobs. I could have totally bucked standard operating procedure among the 20+ job candidates from my department in any given year, and insisted that my adviser personalize every one of those 100+ letters/year, but I’m not sure the incremental advantage it would have given me (at places that are routinely getting 200+ applications for every job) would have been worth the busywork it would have generated for him–not to mention the chill it would have created in our working relationship and the strange place it would have put me in vis-a-vis his OTHER advisees, who would then be contemplating whether to add THEIR 400 letters to his to-do lis).

        • I think that this lays out the disciplinary issues really well, kirstin! It certainly explains why English and History are the two fields most (apparently) invested in the dossier service. it might be interesting to hear from other behemoth fields like psychology as well.

          And we still get to blame neoliberalism ultimately, so it’s all good…. 🙂

  4. I have been short-listed scores of times since hitting the market in the early 2000s, yielding a dozen campus visits and two TT offers. I have used a dossier service for every job application I’ve submitted.

      • Interdisciplinary Humanities (American Studies/Performance Studies), with short-list interviews (conference/phone) for positions in AmSt, Theatre, and English Departments.

        • I’d like to know your Ph.D. institution, if you don’t mind sharing. And also, again if you don’t mind, your gender.

          Since this post has prompted so much energetic reaction, I’m actually trying to get a sense of whether there are any observable trends in the responses in terms of status of institution, and gender.

          Again, only if you feel like it.

  5. I’m with Jonathan. I use interfolio. My PhD school started offering it while I was there (there was no dossier service prior to that).

    For those of us who went through the UK system, which means 3 years in a program (not 6-10), yes it CAN be hard to find three people to write, especially in the final PhD year. Remember, we don’t have committees: I had ONE supervisor. After the degree is finished, it’s SOP to ask one’s PhD examiners to write, and that means two letters for the file. But a professor who accepts the role of examining the dissertation of a PhD candidate at another university (ie, to be the external examiner): that person is NOT signing up to spend the next few years writing multiple letters every year for that student (who, remember, they have never met before the viva)!! By your rationale, I have one person – my PhD advisor – on whom I should prevail to write 60+ letters each year. But I’d still be using a dossier service for the rest.

    I’m several years post-PhD now, and I have letters from several people in my file. I feel much more comfortable asking a colleague at another university “would you write for me, once, for interfolio” than asking someone to make an open-ended commitment to be hit up for a letter for everything I apply to for the foreseeable future!

    I have also been shortlisted and interviewed for tenure-track positions having used interfolio letters to apply. I have never heard from historians in my field that it is viewed negatively.

    • Katrina, the point of the post was to prod graduate students to look closely at their own attitudes, just like this:

      ” I feel much more comfortable asking a colleague at another university “would you write for me, once, for interfolio” than asking someone to make an open-ended commitment to be hit up for a letter for everything I apply to for the foreseeable future!”

      Why would you not seek to cultivate a permanent supporter who is so investedin your future that they WOULD write for you each and every time? You are selling yourself short to start out, at the outset, feelking that you’re not entitled to do that.

      This is setting aside the issue of the UK system, or the History context, etc. etc.

      What I’m getting at is that the dossier service is ANOTHER WAY that too many graduate students sell themselves short, and accept crappy advising from irresponsible advisors, because they don’t always know what they’re actually entitled to ask for.

      So setting aside whether or not you do in fact use a dossier service, I would urge you to closely look at whether what feels “comfortable” to you is in fact a practice that is overly diffident and not fully representing you as a powerful, assertive, and confident young scholar in the field, deserving of highlly invested, ongoing sponsorship and support.

        • LOL! Sadly, my letter writing days are over for all but my former and current students.

          It does raise a really really interesting question though—–and this is just me speculating, not pontificating—which is, at some point in the neoliberal spiral, will there come to be letters-for-pay? Is what’s stopping that now just the continued ethical boundaries of academics? And then again, how can we be sure it isn’t happening? Can we be sure? Just things to think about.

  6. The quality of the letter written for a candidate has no relationship with whether it comes directly from the advisor or from the advisor and others via an interfolio-type service. When I’ve been on search committees, I’ve seen wretched letters sent directly from the advisor’s home office, and outstandingly personalized ones sent either from a university’s placement system (like Berkeley had in my day, in the 80s) or from some kind of interfolio thing. The letter’s the thing, not the return address.

    Also, those of us who are NOT advisors and don’t teach at PhD institutions but end up writing a ton of letters for friends/junior colleagues/grad. students we’ve met at conferences appreciate interfolio services. And, it’s easy to change/update those interfolio letters to personalize them. Finally, sometimes in addition to interfolio I’ll send a shorter letter/email on behalf of a candidate that speaks very specifically to some personal qualification/quality, when I feel strongly enough about that.

    In my day everyone used Berkeley’s placement system, and since a lot of Americanists applied for 50 – 100 jobs a year the thought of asking an advisor to send an individualized letter for every single one (and most of the jobs were similar enough that it would be hard to individualize anything) would be unthinkable — this would involve an advisor sending out literally thousands of individual letters, a dubious spending of time. Instead, advisors sent the basic letter to the placement service, and then very selectively sent follow-up notes and letters (today would be emails) when they truly had something very individualized to add.

  7. But on the other hand, a followup, your response to Katrina is right on target: “What I’m getting at is that the dossier service is ANOTHER WAY that too many graduate students sell themselves short, and accept crappy advising from irresponsible advisors, because they don’t always know what they’re actually entitled to ask for.” Absolutely. One time on a search committee I actually wrote a professor and told him he was selling his student short by writing a terrible letter of rec (and this was an “individualized” one, not a service). We interviewed that candidate anyway, but I warned him his prof. was giving him no help, and that we recognized that as being the prof’s fault and not a reflection on his work (good we asked for a writing sample so we could say that).

    • This is so, so true…..

      I need to add another addendum to just hammer home this core point of the post!!!!! It’s about students all too often not demanding what they’re entitled to from their advisors!!!! And advisors not being responsible and accountable enough to actually do what they should without prodding!!!!

      arrrrgggghhh!!!

      And btw, backchannel discussion is revealing an emergent GENDER variable in this entire thing. more on that later.

      • IT looks like my original comment didn’t post for some reason? Anyway, I basically think it’s the letter that is the thing, and it makes no difference where the letter comes from, straight from the professor, or from a service, or whatever. I have never been on a search committee that has paid any attention to that. Anyway, that’s the summary of what was a longer comment!

        • I’m not seeing an earlier comment, other than the one that starts “as a follow up.” Sorry, that’s frustrating. Thanks for restating it.

          I think in some fields it will matter a lot. I think the consensus that HAS emerged is that fields differ WIDELY on what is acceptable. People should check with recent hires who actually got the kinds of jobs they want. in other words, don’t take the word of someone who’s been on the market for 3 years with no luck, OR someone who is coming from a vastly higher status institution than you. But yes take the word of someone from your own institution who HAS scored a tt job (if that’s what you’re looking for) as to whether or not the dossier letter was good, bad or neutral.

        • never mind–just found it! It got lost in the big list of comments that all came in almost at once! sorry for the delay–it’s up now.

  8. In my field (Communication), dossier services are not the norm because we generally apply for about a dozen jobs and our advisors tend to only have ~5 advisees at various stages.

    However, I hear from my pals (students and faculty) in more humanities-oriented departments (and even sociology) that they’re applying for 40-60 jobs and that non-tailored letters are acceptable.

  9. For me, Interfolio is useful in three ways. First, they will print everything for you, assemble it, and mail it out. Not having to run to the post office or the copy center every other day adds up quickly, particularly for the folks in fields where 50+ applications are the norm.

    Second, although I agree with your point that we should seek out alternate letter writers when we can, sometimes that isn’t an option. Both of the inside members on my committee, both prominent and bright scholars who know my work well, are notorious for not finishing letters (one almost cost one of our grads a job a couple of years ago). Incomplete application packets don’t even make it into the consideration pile at some institutions. I’m not taking any chances, but I also can’t afford to totally skip the support from these people.

    Finally, jobs sometimes crop up suddenly, without much turnaround time (e.g. right before a conference). Although those jobs sometimes indicate an imminent internal hire, without letters on file it’s almost impossible to apply to some of the last-minute postings.

  10. Recently, I have seen a number of job postings that specifically ask for letters that DO NOT COME from a dossier service (either asking for “specific letters aimed at the position” or ask for a list of reference’s emails so that the hiring department may send an email request for a letter). It seems like some departments are turning away from Interfoli!

    I mentioned this recently to two of my letter-writers over lunch (one of them being my dissertation advisor, the other a junior faculty member). My advsior (a male full professor) was exacerbated by the news. While he claimed to understand the need for such requests– he also expressed extreme frustration at them. His point of view: in the current economic climate where faculty are being asked to put in more hours, commit more time to service, cut corners, do work for less pay, it’s a burden to keep it all straight. Meanwhile, the junior faculty member (a woman), waved away the request with a shrug and said “it’s my JOB to write you letters. I am prepared to do it, I expect to do it, and and I am happy to do it.” So, there are two very different responses.

    I appreciate Karen’s tip on providing a spreadsheet for my letter-writers— and such organization appeals to me– however, considering the job market in English lit (where jobs do not come out until Sept 15th and then then are released on a rolling basis every Friday, until April), I am not sure how practical that is.

    It’s all rather problematic– and this conversation only highlights that. I’m happy to hear that some folks don’t hold it against applicants if the letter originates from Interfolio. But it seems– at least currently– that many departments have noticed some difference in the letters and are therefore requesting more personalized recommendations.

  11. I will add my voice to the growing chorus of English folks that have landed several interviews and a job via Interfolio (and before that the campus dossier service). I have found that the most important personalization of the letters is done at the level of the student rather than the position. A generic, hasty letter–however properly addressed and on lush letterhead–is always trumped by a really strong, detailed, and unique statement of your support via Interfolio–which I think is a better use of a mentor’s time. My advisors certainly personalized a few letters on my massive search–but only to schools where they knew folks and it made sense to do so. I kept them informed via a shared Googledoc . . .it is a good way to update this info in real time.

    A blanket dismissal of Interfolio causes other problems. I have friends who have committee members who refuse to post letters on Interfolio as a way of controlling the students’ job search (even post graduation). I have also seen an undergrad advisee miss out on applying to a grad school she wanted to go to because the school *only* accepted Interfolio and one of her main mentors refused, as a rule, to use it.

    And while in a perfect world, graduate students shouldn’t have to worry about late letters–or letters that don’t make it–they absolutely do. It didn’t happen to me, thankfully, but I know more than a few folks with the missing letter situation. As the saying goes, we can wish in one hand. . .

    • ” I have friends who have committee members who refuse to post letters on Interfolio as a way of controlling the students’ job search (even post graduation). I have also seen an undergrad advisee miss out on applying to a grad school she wanted to go to because the school *only* accepted Interfolio and one of her main mentors refused, as a rule, to use it.” That is truly appalling.

      I think what this discussion has illuminated is just how varied the acceptance of dossier services is—and in variation lies risk to those who don’t have a perfect understanding of hthe micro-parameters of their specific circumstances.

      One big caveat here though: I completely object to the dichotomy arising in this comment stream that posits a generic over-hasty personal letter and good dossier letter.

      I will repeat: faculty have computers, and computers have files. The personal letter is as much based on a template as an Interfolio one is. And it can be THE SAME letter that would be on Interfolio—but on letterhead and with a live sig, and perhaps sentence or two added. In short—no prof has to write an over-hasty generic letter just because it’s personal. They write one great letter, the first fall of the first year that the student in on the market, and then that letter serves over and over and over again, with but a few changes.

      so don’t let any professor tell you that their letter will be “bad” unless it’s on Interfolio. It will be virtyually identical regardless of where it is housed–on interfoliio or on the prof’s hard drive.

      I do accept the testimony from English and History that scale makes personalization impacticable, and that’s fine.

      But I don’t accept that the ONLY alternative to Interfolio is a crappy over-hasty generic letter. That’s just rationalization. And any student operating in a smaller field should approach this very cautiously indeed, just as I say in the post.

      • “But I don’t accept that the ONLY alternative to Interfolio is a crappy over-hasty generic letter. That’s just rationalization.”

        Then you’re not accepting reality in large fields. Please do not try to make it the student/the job candidate’s fault that this is often the reality.

      • I think all dichotomies of this kind aren’t useful. Just as individual letters aren’t always hasty and poorly thought out, neither are dossier letters. In fact, it’s my sense that the professors in my department go all out in those dossier letters. They might not be tailored to the institution, but they are detailed, long, and thoroughgoing accounts of the student. So this is an issue of tailoring or not; it’s not an issue of quality or not. Here’s where I would say that if the letter isn’t quality, there’s a problem, but from my own experience, I know that the problem doesn’t always lie with the student.

  12. Granted I’m only a finishing grad student, but this strikes me as so field-specific I can’t even say. Many people have already highlighted that faculty in history departments expect their students to use a dossier service (and just yesterday, it was driven home again to me that even for the most major of jobs, my advisor intends for the dossier letter to suffice). To that, I’d also add that making this kind of demand could really do catastrophic damage to an advising relationship. The point here isn’t whether it should or not, or whether it’s the advisor’s responsibility or not (and to the latter point, I’d lean towards it isn’t the advisor’s responsibility to do an individualized letter for every application–out of everyone i know at many different institutions, only one person’s advisor wrote individualized letters, and that included the most supportive and dialed-in advisors). The reality is what’s important, and in reality making this kind of demand could do serious damage.

    And here’s where field specificity comes in: in history, at least, there is significantly less flexibility with who one chooses as an advisor. Unless you’re an Americanist, you’re working with the geographic expert in your field (and depending on the field, it’s the geographic expert for the time period that you study). So there’s precious little flexibility there. If you study the modern Middle East, you can’t work with the expert on early modern China, even if that person’s a better advisor/mentor. So you’re stuck with that person. So whereas it would be great to get the kind of advisor who would view taking on this kind of commitment as part of hir job, that’s a minor consideration in light of the more important issue of training in the field. Furthermore, as your program’s winding down, it’s too late to manufacture the kind of advisor who is going to do this (again, in light of how few do).

  13. I’ve never studied or worked at a university that didn’t require a dossier service. There were once provided by the university, and then it became Interfolio.

    Later in career one has tailored letters. And of course some professors always *also* write tailored letters to some universities for some candidates. So you have your dossier, which you can get out at any time, and then, in addition, the tailored letters your professors might send to departments where they have contacts. That’s nepotism in some ways, I know, but it’s how it works. You can’t put the burden of fighting this system on individual PhD candidates and new job seekers, it isn’t fair to them and they’re not likely to get good letters out of it.

  14. P.S. I have hired a LOT. Almost everyone uses a dossier service. Those dossiers are the best organized. When people have gotten individual letters sent, they come in willy nilly and your departmental secretary can lose some and put them in the wrong file. Also they’re not always written nearly as well as what that same professor would write for Interfolio — they haven’t been able to take the time, etc. AND people who insist on individual letters often are doing it so as not to pay Interfolio, so they’re just applying for one or two jobs. So their professor realizes they’re not seriously on the market, and sends something off saying yes, I’ll recommend this person, let me know if you want some serious info. It looks terrible.

  15. And P.S. here’s the way to put it: from the point of view of the search committee. People who get individual letters don’t appear to be on the market in a serious way — they’re just testing the waters, or they have some personal reason to want to be in your place that doesn’t have to do with the university or the department, etc. People who are using a dossier service are going all out and they mean business. They aren’t going to withdraw from market, refuse interviews, etc., and they are seriously interested in getting an offer. There are of course exceptions to this, but. And also: not having to assemble their file yourself, watching the mail for all sorts of different envelopes, and so on, or print things people decided to send from abroad in .pdf, etc., is a great help. When people send these individual letters, they already start showing how high maintenance they are going to be.

    • Nobody sends paper letters anymore (at least that I know—but then I suppose some do, as some holdouts still use typewriters, as we hear occasionally). Anyway, virtually all letters, including the individually tailored ones, are sent as email attachments, pdfs, uploaded to an application site, etc.

      • “Nobody sends paper letters anymore.”

        This is absolutely not the case in history. Most jobs require hard copies of applications, and many of those explicitly state that they will NOT accept emailed application materials, including letters.

    • I guess actually, I need to respond more substantively, that I would strongly disagree with this comment. Again, as has emerged from this comment thread—the most important single factor in deciding whether or not to use dossier services is to know what is expected in your own field, and to follow that practice carefully and consciously.

  16. Here’s one more issue to put in the pot: at least one department is using Interfolio to collect job applications.

    The Department of English at the College of the Holy Cross invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in rhetoric and composition. . . . The Holy Cross English Department uses Interfolio to collect all faculty job applications electronically. Email and paper applications will not be accepted. See http://www.interfolio.com/apply/3059 to apply. Through Interfolio, please submit a cover letter describing research and teaching interests, curriculum vitae, statement on teaching, copies of unofficial transcripts, and three letters of recommendation.

  17. The central target of this post, dossier services like Interfolio, is a straw man. It is just as possible, and sometimes easier, to request tailored letters for every job application through Interfolio. All it takes is to send another letter request to your letter writers, who can then simply upload a new file to the service. There’s still the problem of disciplines where getting tailored letters for every job application is impractical if not impossible, but that has nothing to do with dossier services. Instead of taking aim at dossier services, which many commenters have noted have many advantages over putting together your own applications, you should instead have focused on the need for a clear relationship between advisor and advisee. Without that clear relationship that makes asking for multiple letters possible, whether through a dossier service or not, it’s not going to matter how you ask for those letters. I think a retraction/restatement is in order so as not to lead new job seekers astray.

  18. Interfolio costs job applicants a lot of money. Each letter costs 6 dollars. 3 letters per job times 30-50 jobs is a lot of money for those of us who survive as adjuncts and postdocs.

    • Considering most applications are still paper, it’s going to cost applicants roughly as much in paper, printing, and postage. The costs aren’t much of an argument against dossier services.

    • As well, since the cost is per application not per letter, the cost of Interfolio is actually $6 times 30-50 jobs, not $6 times 3 letters times 30-50 jobs. Still not insignificant, but considerably less than your calculations.

      • I use interfolio just for one letter at present so I assumed the cost was per letter, thanks for pointing that out. I send my own materials and cover letter in, and just use interfolio for one reference at present. If it is 6 dollars for the whole application than you are right, it is not that much more expensive, than printing everything out yourself and mailing it. I prefer to only use it for the letter, when I have to.

        I have a committee member who dislikes the dossier service. They told me that the materials come with a lot of service branding, making it obvious the candidate used a service and using the opportunity to promote their service with the search committees. I do not know if this is true with interfolio specifically, I have never seen the finished product myself. This is just what one professor told me, advising me against using it for this reason.

  19. I also found this post to be completely off the mark, and bizarre for being so confidently off the mark. My department has done numerous searches where candidates have had dossiers sent either by their schools or by a service. And my students have gotten visiting and tenure-track jobs with letters I put in a dossier. Do you really think it matters if I write “I have spent 45 seconds looking over your department website, and I think John is the perfect person for you?” “Susie tells me she has always wanted to live in a big city/little town/tornado alley/city near the beach”? At times, when I or the candidate have a special connection to the hiring department, I will write a separate letter right to them, or more commonly an email to all my friends in the department, which will then be added to the file–and can alert friends of mine who are not on the hiring committee that there is an applicant they may want to speak up about. And because I do this only when I have something helpful to say, I can do it well, instead of wearily cranking out thirty lightly tailored letters each for several students every Fall for the rest of my life.

  20. I have to disagree, much as the person who posted a response first did. In my first job search, I applied for nearly 100 jobs. Some were for writing center director positions; some for writing program administrator positions; some for primarily teaching positions at 4-year, comprehensive, or research universities. I tailored my own job letters for each job, but by no means was I going to ask my letter writers to write new letters for each of those 96 jobs. The time they’d have to spend printing, addressing, and sending the letters in itself was justification for me to use a dossier service (provided by my department). On the other side of this is my experience as someone who has now sat on many search committees. The only times I remember that when non-personalized reference letters (as in those not written specifically for our job) caused me to seriously reconsider a candidate is when they were out of date (more than a year old) or when they were clearly written for another purpose (for a candidate’s application to full professor, most recently). So I always suggest that my graduate students use Interfolio if they’re doing a substantial job search. In fact, one of our candidate for a position in my current department–for Department Chair, no less–has submitted good letters through Interfolio. None of the committee members even mentioned it.

  21. Everyone I know uses Interfolio. I’m in political science. Almost everyone I know got TT jobs. I can’t even begin to imagine demanding my writers write 50+ different versions of my letter, even at the level of copy and paste. That is insane.

    You seem to have a lot of useful advice but this is so far off it makes me seriously question everything else you have to say.

    • It’s insane only to those who have internalized the message that they are not worth their advisors’ time and investment on the job market. I am sorry to see in how many fields faculty have succeeded in selling graduate students yet another bill of goods.

      • I’m a professor, but in Europe where we don’t use letters of recommendation in this way. I don’t see how any professor can realistically be expected to personalise all these letters for all their students. Is this really in the professors job description? I was asked to be on a dissertation committee in the US once and said no because it was WITHOUT PAY. that is a lot of time commitment to expect a professor to do with no compensation. When I asked what the expectations were for committee members nobody even mentioned letters of recommendation. How on earth can letters be a professor’s job when they’re not paid for it? Even if you’re the main advisor, I can’t imagine the professors are really paid for the many hours of work you are saying they are supposed to put in to this. If a grad student asked me for 50 personalised letters I can tell you those letters would get less and less enthusiastic.

        • Actually in the US at least from my experience as a PhD candidate, sitting on a dissertation committee requires only about one hour of the committee members time in which they just sit there as the major adviser asks virtually all of the questions. I was completely surprised at the lack of involvement of my committee members, I basically had no contact with any of them (not by my choice, they just did not respond at all) except for when they showed up at the comprehensive oral, proposal defense and final oral. Wow I can’t believe professors are still getting paid!Also they act like they are doing you a HUGE favor whenever they do show up, instead of just their actual job!

      • I wonder if this is simply a matter of fundamental change in academia? The job market is so competitive mainly because universities have managed to turn tertiary education into a commercial enterprise, producing more graduates than academia can accommodate. If the job search now requires upwards of 50 or 60 applications before landing a position with a measure of long-term security, then the traditional personalized system of referral needs recalibration. I notice Interfolio is widely used in the United States but less so in other countries with less competitive job markets.

        • It’s really a system in flux. Now, in 2017, I am resigned to the fact that interfolio and other dossier services have become mostly the norm.

  22. “Coach K’s” fundamental point that grad students should not shy away from asking their advisors to do their jobs is well-taken. And I understand that her job is to help us work successfully within our flawed system. But rather than directing all of the resentment at advisors who prefer the use of dossier services that make everyone’s (including students’) lives easier, I find myself wanting to rail against the expectations of such search committees as would seemingly prefer massively time-consuming superficial customization that generates busywork for so many people. In an era of diminishing returns on time investment in the job market and rising expectations for research, why can’t we all push for a more humane process that eliminates pointless paperwork? Standardized page count for discipline-specific writing samples, anyone? Or how about a standardized length for teaching statements? Don’t get me started on the endless variants of formats for “statements of faith.” Naturally, job candidates have no choice but to give it everything they’ve got in this market; if search committees demand it, we’ll have to do it. But let’s also advise search committee members to lower the burden on job seekers and their trusty advisors in reasonable ways. It only takes a moment to add a line such as the following to a job posting: “Candidates are encouraged to use dossier services.”

    I should say that I’m from English, and based on the posts here, using Interfolio is the norm for us. Nevertheless, I’ll clarify further that I am a recent graduate of a respected but non-Ivy grad program, and after several interviews this year, I was recently appoint to a fairly compensated tenure-track position with a moderate teaching load in a desirable area. I used Interfolio, and my fabulous letter writers each submitted a single lengthy and detailed letter (4 pages average).

  23. At the risk of bringing back a zombie, I wanted to add another dimension to the the discussion. This is the first hit on Google that wasn’t direct from Interfolio, and I must say I had never heard of them until this week. I myself am loathe to use such services, as I find them to be corporate, impersonal, and the antithesis of collegiality. However, this week I had to apply for a job that would only accept applicants through Interfolio. I see this as accomplishing two things: first, it deals with a reality of the job market, namely too many graduates for too few jobs. Second, it puts the cost of the backend of an HR department on the applicant. This is the first time I have ever applied for a job and had to pay for the privilege. In the non-academic world, paying to apply for a job usually falls into the realm of “scams” and I find it interesting that rather than being asked to fill out a University application and perhaps email a letter of interest and CV to a search committee chair, I have been asked to pay to have a third party deliver the goods. Yet when I preview the document, little of the relevant information is submitted, suggesting that the only difference between Interfolio and what I could email myself is the $6 charge.

    • Responding to a zombie comment – Nowadays, if the university is doing the entire application process through Interfolio, there is no charge for submitting a letter through Interfolio. The $4/letter charge comes into play when you use Interfolio to apply to a job system that is not Interfolio (i.e., click2apply, AcademicJobsOnline, peopleadmin, etc.)

  24. Dr. Karen,
    I have my letter-writers personalize my letters but submit them to Interfolio well before the due date. I keep all my other documents in my Interfolio account. This way, I can send everything out all at once and know my letter-writers did not fail to submit. On a slightly different note, do you have any tips on how to ask outside and senior scholars for letters of recommendation? I have built a relationship with a scholar I very much admire but still fear to approach with such a request.

  25. As I evaluate how to approach the job/postdoc market this fall, I am just making sure that your perspective on interfolio has not changed. Also, as the last comment mentions, it is possible to have personalized letters uploaded to interfolio for each job, but then the applicant can just have all items sent together. If the letter is personalized, but sent through interfolio, is that still discouraged? Or is it ok if they are tailored letters? I think some of my recommenders simply prefer the idea of uploading all of the letters to one place, as opposed to sending each one out separately, so it is not necessarily about not wanting to tailor the letters. Thanks!

    • I think having personalized letters uploaded to Interfolio is a good middle ground. And, in terms of my thinking: well i still consider it appalling that letter writers can’t manage to provide personalized letters, but if interfolio is the only thing they’ll agree to do, then of course you must use it. My critique is aimed at the advisors who add this to their long list of failures of advising and support for the job market, and not at the candidates.

  26. I see that the comment stream on the dossier issue has fizzled. Now that we’re in the middle of application season, I think we need more feedback on this issue. I’m in English, and probably because of the number of applications, Interfolio or a department dossier system is ubiquitously used. BUT, Karen’s points are very important. You need recommenders who are not only willing to put time into the letters, but are eager to do so. Here’s some tips at compromise. One of my recommenders was enthusiastic about updating my letter a couple months ago, and she asked me to send a list of schools I am applying to see if she knows anyone and to add anything to letters. Sending a list of schools to recommenders with clear job descriptions and deadlines, etc., a month or two in advance is essential. ALSO, send your recommenders very clear, bullet-pointed accomplishments you’ve accumulated since the last letter, along with your updated CV. Another tip: if you CAN meet with any or your recommenders for lunch, do it. That’s hard if you are no longer near them, but I’ve had lunch a few times with my dissertation advisor, and we laid out the battle plan, so to speak. Finally, if the school asks for material to be mailed, or material to be e-mail attached, instead of sending through dossier or website, my feeling is that this is not only an opportunity to ask recommenders to tailor the letters (you have to give them these mailing addresses), but you MUST. At this point in the process, I make a point of keeping in touch with my recommenders every week, alternating e-mail updates to all four of them throughout the week.

    • All excellent suggestions. I hope professors know enough to refresh their letters, and it’s certainly easier when a list of accomplishments is supplied.

  27. Dear Dr. Karen,

    Thank you for this. I had a very unpleasant interaction today with a Senior department faculty member when I asked him for a one sentence form letter verifying my status as a Ph.D. candidate. The deadline for this letter, which I am to upload to the application myself as a PDF, is one week away. He responded to my request with “Needless to say, it is unprofessional to ask for a letter so close to the application deadline.”

    I never want this to happen again. Too many tears, too much anxiety. From now on, I’m using the spreadsheet.

  28. Times are changing. I’m applying to 5 postdocs this year and all but one require that letters of recommendation be submitted through Interfolio or a dossier service like it. My field is history/women’s studies.

  29. Pingback: Chronicle Vitae’s Free Dossier Service | The Professor Is In

  30. One of my three letter writers is a famous scientist who is over 80 now. He is in quasi-retirement but when he was active, his students and postdocs applied to far fewer jobs than I have to and could be very selective. I can’t.

    It is completely unfair to ask him to spend his time, at the age of 80+, sitting at a laptop, changing a few lines of the letter and uploading it to over 25 – 30 university websites, each of which have a slightly different protocol.

    It’s a waste of his retirement time and limited energy. He also happens to be contributing some amazing ideas to science with his retirement time and I would be loathe to take away from that as well.

  31. Rather shocked to read this post. I entered grad school in literature 1984. There was a campus placement service that held and mailed letters of recommendation. Given the turnaround time in those days I cannot imagine anything other was standard even then.

    (And what would one do for a personal letter if a reference is in the field or otherwise away from campus in those pre-email days?)

  32. I’ve got a somewhat different take on the regrettable industrialization of academic fields, namely where Interfolio / Dossier services are expressly *not* accepted. I’m a Ph.D. applicant with a degree from a top-10 university, and am surprised to find 2 of the programs I’m applying to (Humanities) won’t take recommendations submitted through Interfolio. Their reasoning: Recommenders have to answer survey questions when uploading the letters, e.g. “How do you rank student among his/her peers?”
    I fear these schools are allowing their machines to determine who is most recommended, rather than letting humans actually read the recommendation letters submitted.
    Can there be a reason to categorically reject dossier services, especially when many of these comments attest to their long standing tradition and (at least arguable) value?

  33. I had a disastorous experience with Interfolio. One of my professors, who I had a good relationship with in and out of graduate school, completely melted down at them. There was some problem where he could not log-on and he got very frustrated with the technology. He even lashed out at me (and later apologized). It was a nightmare. They also spam the professors. It kind of soured our relationship because he was embarassed for lashing out and I was annoyed (I mean, after I spent a fortune on grad school I would’ve hoped for more graciousness and that he could’ve figured out the tech of Interfolio.) I pride myself on the fact that I remained calm, despite his snapping at me, and didn’t take it personally. I am a very respectful person but with a few exceptions of some wonderful profs, most write generic letters and don’t seem all that excited on writing them for anyone. He ended up writing a wonderful letter but now it’s lost forever on Interfolio and to that one school. I hate the whole process of getting letters. It’s awkward.

  34. I just find it incredible that Interfolio gets away with charging $6 for simply forwarding documents to an email address (in this case letters of rec).

    I mean, as a graduate student I do not have money to spare, yet applying to 50 jobs using Interfolio would cost me $300??? That is just retarded…

  35. One of my students just mentioned this site, so I thought I’d check it out. I’m a tenured assoc prof at a large public research university in the western US, in social science (the interpretive, qualitative end). I’ve been on several search committees for tenure-track positions, and I have NEVER heard anyone make a negative comment about Interfolio or other dossier packets we received; we may have hired such an applicant, I can’t remember, because they don’t even stand out in my mind. The applicants’ cover letters are ‘tailored’; the letters of recommendation are not. Big deal. As long as they hit the usual things sought in a letter.

    Now, is this the same for a very small college’s humanities departments? I don’t know. I think this is going to seem like a silly issue pretty quickly, once some of our senior colleagues head for the door, and I think that the ‘majority view’ of faculty on this has shifted in the last couple of years (the time since this thread began, to be specific) to it simply not being an issue. The fact is we’re all busy, this technology exists, and many of us have a lot of students.

    As to the comment, “I still consider it appalling that letter writers can’t manage to provide personalized letters,” I think the academic job market may be different now than it was a few short years ago (ten years ago it was very, very difficult; now it’s even tougher to get a job). I’m writing letters on average every year for ten students (those I’m advising and those whose committee I’m on who are on the market), each applying for upwards of 20 jobs and postdocs. I could probably go on as long as anyone about unconscionable behavior of faculty, but I don’t see how my reluctance to write 200 personalized letters, each year, is appalling. I have my students use Interfolio, because they know the letter has gone out, and I couldn’t keep track of all of them if I tried–and I don’t even have toner in my office printer anymore, I haven’t printed anything in months.

    Now, if there’s an unusual job, or one that wants me to speak to rather unusual things in my letter, I’ll do a separate letter for that (very rare, not even every year). And if I happen to know people in the department my student is applying to, I’ll email them to reach out and simply give them a heads up that a great candidate has just applied, etc. In my experience, for students this usually comes down to balancing the fear of fallout from a ‘generic’ letter with the certainty that once one of your recommenders uploads it, you don’t have to depend on them, which I know often involves getting put through ridiculous stress up to the very last minute, if they ever do it at all. Use a dossier service, folks, and try to get your (especially deadbeat) profs to use it too. Never heard of the spamming with Interfolio, by the way, it’s never happened to me, and as for the prof not being able to log in, with all due respect, it sounds likely it wasn’t a problem with Interfolio per se.

    • These are all good points. Actually, this Fall (ie, Fall 2014) I’ve had quite a few readers and clients write to tell me they had conference interview and even campus visit invites RESCINDED because of a late letter. This was unheard of a few years ago, when a late letter was usually tracked down, or the candidate given a chance to find a replacement. So, in these brutal times, the interfolio/dossier option looks better and better. Because, the candidate controls the timing. On-time arrival trumps personalization, in the current market.

    • Just to be clear, when I say use a dossier service, I mean use one (like Interfolio) for your recommendation letters (when faculty aren’t required to upload them themselves).

  36. I found these posts very helpful and wanted to mention an additional dossier service: privatefolio.com . It allows you to do everything that Interfolio does, but the prices are much more reasonable.

  37. Dear Karen,

    I was going through the comments section and it seems like you might have changed your mind about dossier services. I was looking into using one and when googled , have run into this post.

    The initial post suggests that it is not wise to use dossier services but it seems that lately, they are becoming acceptable. You may want to perhaps consider to put a warning in the original post for those who do not read all the comments since it may now be misleading to suggest the use of the dossiers services only under two conditions. Maybe they should read all the comments?

    Thank you for your attention

    I am a Ph.D candidate in the job market /languages and literature

  38. Thanks, “In” Professor, for this article. This seems good advice for Ph.D. graduates, but what about those applying for adjunct positions? Adjuncts, as we all know, are at the bottom of the academic feeding pool: expendable, poorly paid, and not really seen as part of the academic community. I don’t mind this,however. I love teaching, and I love the students. I also love being both a teacher and artist. Why,though, would a fresh letter be needed for adjunct positions? I have been evaluated only once in a classroom, have not had a dissertation advisor, and the LORs are teaching-based rather than research-based,which seem a little more “evergreen” than those looking for tenure-track positions. I just have a few who know my teaching at this point, and I don’t want to lean on them for LORs every time I apply for an adjunct position. I would rather have them give me a general letter in an editable format. Do you agree? Thanks.

  39. Hi Karen,

    I’m a fan of your blog. This year I’m on the job market (biology) and at least 20 of the schools require the application to go through Interfolio. In that case, wouldn’t the dossier service make more sense then having each writer upload 20 tailored letter to Interfolio? I imagine the search committee is expecting a non-tailored letter.

    • You can still use Interfolio to request institution-specific letters. I tended to use a generic letter for my teaching letter (‘had to repeatedly email him to get one letter), and had back-up generic letters for my 3 research letters. My postdoc mentor and PhD advisor could generally be relied upon to write a tailored letter for each application.

      I think maybe a mix is good?

  40. I didn’t use Interfolio but I had and still have to deal with #2, that is, unreliable reference writers. This was most annoying when I applied for jobs that automatically requested letters from my writers (often used in UK and Switzerland, for example), but didn’t let me send them a reminder/new link to upload one.

    My field is mathematics, and actually in US it is anyhow necessary to apply through mathjobs.org, an automated job application system supported by the American Mathematical Society. One of my writers refused to use it, which completely destroyed my chances of getting ANY job in US. Otherwise, the downside of mathjobs.org is that most reference writers only write a single generic letter once. On the other hand, it is really easy to apply for many positions (compared to the quite time-consuming procedure of having to fill out application forms with all the information anyhow listed on my CV for every single job in Europe). For applicants, this is thus good and bad at the same time.

    Personally I prefer email applications, because it is similarly fast, but less people apply and some of my reference writers actually do tailor their letters (not all and not always, but better than nothing).

  41. So this may finally become a moot point since Interfolio has recently tried to price itself out of the market as of mid-fall 2017 by requiring subscription for letter sending at some $48 for 20 deliveries. They, up until very recently, did an E-mail delivery of 3 letters to an institution for $6 but now have decided they can make lots of money by attrition and sucking blood out of the stone of poor graduate students and unemployed academics by requiring this new subscription.

    One point that I did not see in this thread is that a generic letter inevitably conveys a referee’s phone, address, and E-mail. Any hiring institution could and should follow up a recommend letter with a communication to the writer. All of this effort and attention to applicants that are a fraction of 200-500 applications for academic jobs after the ca. 2008 downturn is just wasted effort. I have not gotten placed in five years after a union requirement (btw, I am pro-union) lost me my emergency hire two-year contract. However, I have had 10 interviews-campus and long list-based on generic letters. Jobs that would attract 20-30 applications now see 200-400 or more applications. All the people not hired during the hiring freezes of the downturn are still looking as well as the new graduates.

    Another problem that I have experienced is a committe member showing their color as a right-wing nut job and asserting a wall of silence after notifying them that FaceBook was not a good fit for our professioinal relationship (unfriending with the option for them to refriend). This person is obviously the political buffoon of their department and is taking this out on people by asserting the damage of not living up to their duty as a letter writer.

    But my main point here is that all of my writers offer to accept more communication and that should be and should have been the norm. A preliminary nod should be followed up with confirming, personalized communication. If you wonder why fraud occurs in academia, my guess is you should look at letters of recommend taken at face value.

  42. Wow considering the notorious unreliability of professors, I am shocked that anyone would consider Interfolio to be a bad idea! Considering how silly letters of recommendation are, if they like you and you are a pet of some professor they write a glowing on and if they cant be bothered you get a substandard one, I’ve even had several professors that are so lazy they tell me to write it myself and they will sign it. Nobody likes to write these stupid things, why ask someone to write the same thing more than once? As long as applications retain the stupid protocol of requesting idiotic recommendation letters, Interfolio at least makes it MUCH less painful for everyone

  43. 2019 update: Four of my applications REQUIRE the use of Interfolio. It is absolutely not even an option to avoid it in the current job market. I am searching here because I have an issue with one that is not editable and I have found a typo. Beware of some Interfolio applications that are not editable. If this option is chosen by the university you cannot edit or even withdraw your application. Overall, the site is very helpful for keeping copies of your CV, research statement, teaching statement, diversity statement, etc. and the letters can be tailored by each writer to each school. There is an option to request a generic or specific letter. It has made some applications much easier to submit versus using the university HR websites which take much longer to complete. However, I’m not very cautious about the whole editing issue. This was only the case on one of my applications. The others have allowed edits after submission.

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