Friday, February 6, 2015

You've got to be kidding me

How pissed I am says something about how much the application process has changed in the last five-seven years: I have two community college jobs that actually insist on mailed, paper applications! Arrrgh!

It has become so common for places to use stupid online applications and the stupidhead Chronicle Vitae program (which fills in all your stuff into the questionnaire slots for you, but often puts them in all the wrong slots, which is actually more time consuming, thanks), or the portal, that I am completely taken by surprise by this development. I am grumpy and lazy: I ask myself, do I want to bother getting all this shit together and emergency mailing it out? Meh. I am out of sorts.

Also, I still find it weird that some cc places insist I upload my own letters of recommendation: How do you trust that I haven't altered anything in the application? I mean, you're the ones insisting the letter be from this academic year, and yet it would be so easy for your applicants to update the date (or change less-flattering information) if you insist the applicant upload it him or herself. And yet nonconfidential letters are more common than confidential ones at the cc level. Huh.

And in closing: grrr. argh.


Contingent Cassandra said...

Oh brave new world! (/sarcasm). I've only done a fellowship application or two (and my annual review) using the now-popular electronic platforms but yes, it's not at all clear that they're an improvement. And uploading your own letters of recc is clearly nuts (and potentially compromises the integrity of the process for other institutions as well, though I guess that referees could theoretically provide the candidate with different, less-candid letters for such situations. If I were a referee, I'd be tempted to provide a very short, basically supportive letter, followed by a paragraph saying that I'm uncomfortable saying more in present circumstances, but am willing to talk on the phone. Of course, that would be protesting at the expense of the candidate, so not good).

One upside to the schools with non-standard application processes: they'll probably get fewer applicants. Of course, that's only good news if the job is actually desirable, and genuinely available to all applicants, and so on.

Sisyphus said...

No, no, it's definitely a community college standard, which makes me wonder if non-confidential letters is the standard for high schools and the process is based on them rather than down from the 4-year schools. Anyway, I hate either process and am procrastinating today.

J.S. said...

Open letters are the standard for job applications pretty much everywhere *except* 4-year colleges and graduate schools. That small subset of higher ed is an outlier. In any other context, it would be absurd to ask your current boss and colleagues to write you letters for every job you might apply to. First of all, are you really going to let your colleagues and superiors know you are looking to leave? and second, if you apply to ten jobs, are they going to write you ten good letters? The answer to both questions is probably "no". And, too, there's what we might call the "Invisible Man" problem. As an applicant, would you really blindly hand an evaluation of your performance you hadn't seen over to a prospective employer? What if the person you thought was a friend is really a frienemy? What if s/he is applying for the same job and hasn't told you? What if your boss doesn't want to let you go, and is willing to sabotage your application to keep you.

An on the other side, people giving rec's what applicants to know what they say, because outside academia, people get sued over bad recs all the time. Most places I've worked actually have policies against giving recommendations. At my previous employer, all we were technically allowed to say when asked was whether a person had worked in the position s/he claimed. At my current employer, we're not even (technically) allowed to do that. HR has a special automated employment verification line.

Instead (at least in careers where letters are still common, which id fewer and fewer by the day), people collect letters of commendation as they complete particular projects or tasks, and keep them, sort of like a portfolio. This is the model for LinkedIn endorsements, among other things.

Community colleges are a good example, because many--if not most--people applying are already teaching somewhere else, either full time or as adjuncts. Adjuncts in particular don't always want to let their current institution(s) know they're looking for full-time work, particularly if next semester's classes haven't been assigned, yet.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like the application process, what makes you think you would like working at that institution? It says something about the way they handle things. Do you want to deal with that kind of nonsense on a day to day basis?