I had a really interesting afternoon - material enough for several posts. But one thing that came up as an aside was the difficulty of finding appropriate people to write letters of recommendation for various jobs. Typically I am asked to provide contact info for 3-5 references. Occasionally (annoyingly) I am asked up front to provide three letters of recc. with my application. I thought I'd lay out my cast of characters because I wonder if they don't form some sort of typology that more people will identify with.
The Boss/Advisor - Gotta include him. Fortunately he likes me. Wants to see me at a high-level place, whether I want that or not, but can see the value and appeal of a liberals arts college (LAC) job. On every job app.
The Nice Guy - Committee member, professor, and one person who's seen me teach. On every app last year, but this year he's out of the country. Damn. But at least I can include the teaching evaluation he wrote for me in my LAC apps.
The Big Name - Took a class from him and had him as a committee member. Said complimentary things about me at my defense. Used him as a letter writer last year and he counseled me to focus on the 1-2 jobs I really wanted rather than a broader scattershot. This year: including him only on research-intensive or high prestige job apps.
The Successful Woman - Collaborator. Bluntly told me that I'd be wasting my potential at a LAC, really wants me at a research intensive place. Thinks that because she has kids and a big career that its what every woman should want. Using her only for letters at places with graduate programs.
The MS Advisor - Nice guy but a different field (but related) than that in which I now work. We never really clicked personality-wise but he's always been encouraging. Using him for apps in Midwest and when I can't figure out who else to use.
The Young Gun - Committee member, collaborator, presitigious degrees from prestigious universities, wicked smart. Never quite feel like I live up to his expectations, but he knows me well. Using him for ???
The Lab Rat - Collaborator. Always praises me but has seen only one side of my research. Works in a non-university setting so has no way of appraising my teaching. Has offered multiple times to write letters for me. Using him for nothing.
The Outsider - Not in my field at all, but has supervised my teaching and likes to talk big picture, interdisciplinary stuff with me. Not sure what sort of letter she'll write. Using her for those LAC apps where they want an interdisciplinarian.
Even though I've got a bunch of names up there, when it comes time to list contact info or ask for letters, I struggle with who to choose. I could analyze this further and try to dig into each of their motivations towards me but I think I'll leave it for another time, and simply ask: Do any of these people look familiar to you? How do you choose your recommenders?