It's application season again. I've been a postdoc for two years and that is wrapping up soon. I'm applying for both permanent and postdoctoral positions, mainly through mathjobs.org. Many position advertisements ask for specifically three or four letters of recommendation, often specifying that one letter address teaching. My question is: what should be the pecking order if I must choose a subset of the letters I have?
I have five letters of recommendation on hand:
- My thesis advisor
- My current postdoc supervisor
- A letter addressing teaching (an instructor at my graduate school department; I taught a stand-alone course that this person was the coordinator for)
- A well-known, senior mathematician in the field from a prestigious university (this person knows me personally less well than the others)
- A mid-career but well-respected mathematician at another university who I've visited
I assume all the letters are quite positive, although there might be some uncertainty for letter (4). If there are other factors that could tip things one way or the other, what are they? (Since this is a public forum, I can't be too specific about things here.)
Another approach could be to simply submit all the letters of recommendation and let the hiring committee decide what to do with them. Is this a reasonable idea?