Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Notes for Junior Candidates (2)

At this time of the year, EconJobMarket (EJM) gets a lot of support requests from candidates about specifying their references and about communicating with them.  Here are a few common questions and answers related to references (also called “recommenders”):

1. How are reference accounts established in EJM?

EJM has a large database of references.  A new reference account is established whenever a candidate specifies a reference for an application and provides the proper identification for this person (including the reference’s own email address), and when the reference does not already have an account.  The database has been constructed over the past few years.  If your references provided letters on job-market candidates in the past, they probably already have reference accounts with EJM.  In this case, when you submit an application via EJM and give your references’ names and email addresses, they will be shown as already in the database.

2. Are my references notified every time I submit an application?  How can I be sure that they are prompted to submit their letters?

References are notified when their reference accounts are initially established (that is, the first time they are named for an application).  Subsequently, the notification schedule is determined by what the references specify in their account preferences (see point 6 in the October 15 blog post).  If you want to make sure that your references know about your recent applications, you should communicate directly with them.

3. My references say that they haven’t received any emails from EJM recently and they do not know how to log into the system.  What do I do?

Tell your references to use the reference password-recovery link on the EJM front page.  Entering a reference’s email address into this form will generate a password reminder message, sent to this email address.  Have your references check their email spam/junk folders if they don’t find the message in their in-boxes.

4. In my department, a staff person handles the letters on behalf of the faculty references.  I don’t want to bother my advisor with email messages from EJM.  Should I specify the email address of the staff person when specifying references?

No.  EJM must keep track of individual references using a unique identifier, which is the email address.  As noted above, references are not bothered with email reminders unless they specify that reminders be sent.  References can designate proxies in the system; these are staff people who can access the system and upload letters on behalf of the references.  If your department has such staff people, stay in contact with them to make sure that your application files are complete.  To reiterate, do not associate a staff person’s email address with a reference in EJM.  If you do, the reference will be denied.  (Actual people check this.)

5. If one of my references has multiple email addresses, which one should I use when specifying references in EJM?  Can a reference change his/her email address in the system?

Because EJM folks manually check to verify the identity of references, you should use the most “official” email address that your reference has (as opposed to gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc., addresses that anyone can obtain without any formal identity verification).  EJM staff retain the option and authority to use a different email address to create a reference’s initial account than the one a candidate might supply; this is done, in particular, if an official email address is known for the reference.  When a reference gets a new account, he/she is free to log into the system and change the email address.  If the initial email address used for the reference turns out not to be functional, then the reference may not get his/her account information.  In such a case, please have the reference contact EJM support for assistance.  When EJM approves a new reference account application, a notification is sent to the candidate and includes the email address of the reference.  This is to help you determine if an incorrect email address has been used to establish the reference account.

5. How can I ensure that my references write good letters on my behalf?

Do brilliant work!  Kidding aside, I’m sure you are doing your best.  I hope your experience on the market is a good one.


  1. Thanks for writing these tips.

    As a suggestion for future posts, I am particularly interested in hearing advice on what should go into supplementary materials: namely, the research statement, teaching statement, and diversity statement. How much are supporting materials like this valued?

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