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« Publishing a book, part 3: Referee comments and contracts | Main | What’s the big deal about illusions? »

09/19/2015

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Nathan Stout

These are all good things to think about, Marcus. With respect to the use of a dossier service, you're absolutely right about the time that it saves. That said, there's a further consideration in favor of dossier services that's worth mentioning: it's far less expensive than applying through the university's HR website. Virtually every job candidate that I know has their letter writers upload letters to Interfolio in order to avoid having to ask them to send out 100 separate letters. As you mentioned, it's free to apply through Interfolio, but many hiring committees may not be aware that it's actually quite expensive to apply through the HR website when one's letters are distributed through Interfolio. The standard cost to email a dossier from Interfolio is $6, but the standard cost for Interfolio to upload a letter to an HR website is $4 PER LETTER. So, if you have 5 letters to upload, the cost per application through the HR website would be $20, via email $6, and via Interfolio $0 (not including the subscription fee). Thus, if, like you, a candidate applies to 100 jobs, hiring committees could save the candidate $2000 by using Interfolio across the board, but they could also save the candidate $1400 simply by accepting dossiers via email. So, if a department can't convince their university to use a dossier service, email applications would be the next best option for candidates.

UK PhD

I think that instead of asking letters as part of application, the Department should just ask for contact detail of referees. This is how it works in the UK and Europe. They would contact the referees for letters for those who are shortlisted.

Wesley Buckwalter

Establishing one email address in which all reference letters can be sent is *one of the simplest ways* departments can minimize applicant costs. Of course some do not have flexibility and must use HR systems, but avoiding these systems would really help with incredibly wasteful costs sending letters.

As said above, departments can make applications free for job seekers when they use an application service to accept applications. Interfolio is one such paid service. Another is Academic Jobs Online. Additionally AJO also now has a *free eDelivery service* for both applicants and departments. On this service, it costs nothing to send or receive secure application items like reference letters. All you need to do is sign up. Not only do these services limit or eliminate costs, but also promote administrative ease in accepting and organizing documents. (Ironically, and I don't have time to do the math but I'm pretty sure this is right: it would be significantly cheaper for job applicants to get together and buy each hiring department on the market their own dossier account!)

On the applicant side, the Vitae service will send letters for free to an email address. It doesn't help with sending letters through HR systems, but it can reduce costs when applications can be submitted by email.

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