I am a tenured professor planning about seven years past the Ph.D. Over the past few years, I've applied to a handful of jobs (I haven't been looking aggressively — just applied to the good opportunities that came up, along with 500 other people).
My references usually come from:
- My Ph.D. advisor (who has moved to a new institution since I finished my Ph.D.).
- Another professor who taught me in graduate school.
- A mid-career professor from another institution who has read some of my publications. He's not a super-star academic that anyone from any field in my discipline will know, but he is established and well known within my particular field.
- (For jobs requiring four reference letters) another professor from my graduate institution.
This is basically the same set of letters I have used since I was on the market as an ABD student seven years ago. They worked back then for finding a tenure-track job, but I'm wondering now if I should shake things up – perhaps get away from having any letters from people at my graduate institution other than my Ph.D. advisor, for example. I worry that the letters from professors who only knew me in graduate school will seem stale (and frankly, I haven't had much contact with these people since I graduated, so they probably can't comment in detail on what I have been up to since I was a student).
If I don't continue to rely largely on letters from professors at my graduate institution, whose letters should I replace them with? People who I think were anonymous reviewers for my books and articles? People who I think wrote letters for my tenure review? People in my current department whom I trust (this is tricky, of course, since I don't want to advertise too loudly within the department that I am applying for new jobs)?
I'm in the humanities, for what that's worth.