Professors and other high-profile connections continue to write letters of recommendation for students, former employees, and acquaintances applying to jobs and internships in fields from education to engineering. Some letters are still sent via email or even snail mail, while others are sent via contemporary platforms such as Submittable, Linkedin and Slideroom.
The process of typing up a well-written recommendation letter tailored to an individual is time-consuming and arduous. Even the recommendation letter seekers, such as The New York Times writer Kenneth R. Rosen, are often left dreading the process as well.
“I fully accept that I need recommendation letters, but the process, as it stands now, is unmanageable, inconsistent and an unnecessary burden on the kind people who have been writing these letters at my request,” wrote Rosen in his article, “Please Don’t Make Me Ask for Another Recommendation.”
A recommendation letter can involve a significant amount of time to write. Resumes, transcripts, CVs, and other materials must all be reviewed, as well as information about the organization, grant, or school that will receive the letter. And of course that’s not counting the amount of time it takes to actually find professional contacts willing to write the letter—and hit the deadline.
While newer recommendation letter submission platforms such as Submittable are offering quick, innovative ways to submit letters minus the mediator, letter writers still must adapt their styles for these platforms and learn how to navigate the websites.
Other platforms that allow recommendation-letter sharing, such as Linkedin, permit both the viewing and sharing of general letters that users can pin to their profile. However, they do not take into account the long-standing recommendation letter guidelines that ask writers to be as detailed as possible when considering the qualities of a candidate for a specific job.
The solution? Rosen thinks it’s time to imagine a more private and inclusive clearinghouse in which letters can only be seen by those given permission.
While letters of recommendation are not yet outdated and are still a necessity in today’s job market, they may be revamped by submission platforms in the near future.