Recommendation letters today become less and less important in affecting employers' final decision, though they are often requested at different stages or even before any interview. What to do to avoid requesting letters too often, annoying letter writers?

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    Why do you believe that recommendation letters are less and less important? For academic positions, they are critically important! You might want to revise the text of your question to be more specific: "Will asking your references to provide letters of reference many different times annoy them?" – alerera Apr 30 '19 at 2:24
  • did u have experiences where ur letters helped u land a job – feynman Apr 30 '19 at 2:48
  • Other than the obvious choice of not asking for reference letters until a reasonably short list of candidates has been selected? – Brian Borchers Apr 30 '19 at 2:55
  • @BrianBorchers almost. or how to explain to employers that u wanna defer requests of letters – feynman Apr 30 '19 at 2:59
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    Not a chance. No (or bad) letters, no interview. The letters are literally how we tell whether someone looks like a good fit. – JeffE Apr 30 '19 at 19:07

What to do to avoid requesting letters too often, annoying letter writers?

You don't request letters “too often”. You request letters once, at the beginning of your job hunt: “Would you be willing to write a strong recommendation letter to support my applications for [kind of job]? I'm planning to send out about [number] applications.” If they say yes, take them at their word.

At least in North America, academic/research employers request letters directly from your references, not from applicants. Applicants only provides names and contact information for their references; they never see the actual letters. Most universities send letter requests by email; a few ask references to submit their letters when the applicant submits their other materials, without waiting to be being asked directly.

Keep your references up to date on which [kind of job]s you've actually applied for, and how they should expect to receive the letter request. I strongly recommend maintaining a single Google spreadsheet (or your favorite equivalent) with a row for each target institution, and columns for each of your references to indicate who has asked them for letters, and which letters they've actually sent. (Then your references can see which of your other references have already submitted letters, making it less likely that they'll fall behind. Peer pressure works.)

  • that's right. some do ask applicants to send letters or have their writers send, rather than the employers requesting the writers directly. for applicants with a very long job search cycle like 1~2 years, requesting letters over a long time can annoy writers can't it – feynman Apr 30 '19 at 8:04
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    If you're worried about your references getting annoyed, be sure to reveal up front that your search will take 1-2 years (giving them an excuse to decline), and ask how to minimize their annoyance. Then take them at their word. (The only time writing more letters annoys me is when great people don't get jobs and have to keep applying. But then I'm annoyed at the employers, not at the applicant.) – JeffE Apr 30 '19 at 19:11

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