What would you do? (Job Application Advice Needed)

I’ve spent the last 48 hours furiously reworking my resume, crafting a cover letter, thanking colleagues for letters of recommendation, and determining how to get a PDF copy of my credential.

Everything is ready to go. I originally planned to submit my online application early Friday morning. Then my former principal responded to my request for a letter of recommendation, saying he’d “try to get me a draft tomorrow (Friday).” I asked for a letter or recommendation two days ago and never received a response, so I assumed he couldn’t do it. Getting his text threw a wrench in my timeline.

My original plan to submit the application Friday morning was based on a couple of things:

– The position went up Tuesday and I figure the sooner I apply the better.

– If my application is viewed Friday, perhaps action could be taken next week (see next point).

– Most school offices close at the end of June (until early August) and I’m out of town from June 27th to July 8th), so next week could be of prime importance.

I already have two letters of recommendation from colleagues, both of them great. My former principal is a very nice guy and I’m sure he’d write me a wondeful letter of recommendation, but he’s also kind of flaky and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he didn’t send me a draft tomorrow. I am certain I won’t get one from him before lunch.

So I’m not sure what to do. Should I wait until his letter of recommendation, even if that almost certainly means postponing submission of my application until Monday? Or should I include him as a reference for them to call, but submit my application without his letter on Friday morning?

I do NOT have a lot of experience applying for jobs, so I was hoping some of you would advice me on how to proceed. I’m definitely burnt out on the whole process and eager to submit the application and commence Phase 2 (driving myself crazy wondering if they’ll respond) so I worry I’m being silly about my perceived need to send it early Friday. I’m getting varying answers to the question of whether two letters of recommendation is paltry in comparison to three (some say two is fine, others say I should have three–the posting itself does not specify), but that is a concern as well. I also hate the idea of waiting of my former principal, who I know takes a while to get things done.

One final note: a friend, who is also a principal at a middle school, has copies of my final resume and cover letter to read over, but I’m not sure when I might hear back from her. She read an earlier draft of my resume and gave me some suggestions (which I took) and also counseled me on what to include in my cover letter, but she hasn’t read the final drafts with her suggestions incorporated. She is a good friend and I know she will eventually read my stuff and get back to me, but she is also very busy and I wouldn’t know when to expect a response. She probably won’t get back to me until later Friday afternoon, and I doubt she’ll have specific edits for me to include. Both my parents and my husband have read my final drafts and made edits. I feel strongly about both documents and don’t expect to make significant changes based on my friend’s feedback, but I felt I should include the possibility of her final critique before soliciting your advice.

So what would you do? Send the application ASAP? Or wait for a third letter of recommendation and a possible final critique?

Thanks in advance for any advice you are willing to give!


  1. In my experience (both as an applicant and as a person making appointments) applications aren’t acted on or assessed (or even looked at) until applications have closed. Drawing up a shortlist for interviews is usually a comparative process, so doesn’t happen till all applications are in. Finally, I’d say that as summer vacation is beginning, they won’t be surprised if applicants aren’t available. I bet some of those making the decision will be away on vacation too. I guess what I’m saying is that I wouldn’t be surprised if this process takes a lot longer because of the timing. If I were you I would feel free to wait for the recommendations and review comments. Till Sunday at least. And just … breathe.

    1. I don’t think the application does close (it says on the posting that it is open until filled) so I’m not sure what that means as far as when/how they look at applications and move forward). They probably do wait a little while to see what they get before proceeding though.

      Sounds like Sunday is when I should pull the trigger. Thanks for your advice!

  2. from my perspective from the other side: i review a lot of resume and did 6 interviews just last week! i read the applications as i receive them but i will wait to have a bunch of interesting ones before I move to the interview process. I usually do not read recommendation letters!! I want to make my own opinion of the candidate then I will ask for recommendations… So in my opinion you should wait for your friend’s edits (always good to have another set of eye looking at it) but I would not wait for the recommendation letter…

    1. That is good to know. I’m sure they will schedule interviews together, especially since they want to get a group of teachers and other people together to do the interviewing. Interesting to hear you don’t read letters of rec until later though. Will definitely wait until my friend gets back to me.

    2. Totally agree- my feeling is that everyone can find SOMEONE to write them a great letter of recommendation, so I don’t read those when candidate’s include them. I want to formulate my own opinion.

      I do start reading applications and resumes as they come in. In my line of work (private industry) the volume of applications gets overwhelming if I wait, and using the “until filled” well, I’d never fill it if I didn’t just dive in somewhere! I would make sure the coverletter and resume are just right so if that takes until Sunday do it. 🙂 And good luck.

  3. I agree with Mali. Particularly as you do want to put your best foot forward with applications, especially if they don’t know you otherwise. HR tends to be a black hole and you want a reason for your application to stand out.

    That said, I would worry about a flaky letter writer. Is he truly slow, but will give you a solid letter, or is there the possibility of it not being so good? You do want strong letters, as a lackluster one can tank your application.

    My vote is sit on this for a couple of days and submit on Sunday. This will give you time to collect this potential last bit of information. Having you in laws and husband read through your application is good, but you want feedback from those who actually make these decisions.

    Also, is there a way to connect with someone who is doing the hiring for this job? I ask because all my positions have come through networking. People tend to hire who they know (and in many cases, write job ads with a specific person in mind).

    1. Thanks for the advice about why I should wait. That seems to be the consensus and it’s helpful.

      Unfortunately I don’t know anyone who has connections with this high school. I’ve definitely asked around. The Bay Area is a big place with a LOT of schools and I don’t know many people in the high school world… My husband was reminding me that most people have an “in,” (and that maybe this posting is just a formality and they are planning on hiring internally, though that is a lot less likely with Spanish because fewer people can speak it). Ugh. Probably all those hours were for nothing, but at least I’m giving it my best shot.

  4. In my experience hiring, we only solicit and consider recommendations from the top tier candidates—i.e. I don’t care about your recommendations unless I’ve read your resume, met with you, and think you’ll be a great fit. Every has the same glowing recommendations and they don’t mean much (though a sub-par one would be a BIG red flag).
    That being said—you don’t want to stand apart for anything other than positive reasons. So if you think most applications will have 3 recommendations, you don’t want to have less. So its likely worth waiting.
    In terms of timing, I agree with above that there is no advantage to being super early. You have no idea if the person in charge is actually going to look at it today vs. next week vs. August, so just wait a while to get the input & the recommendation.

    1. I don’t know if I think most applicants will have three letters. Like I said, some people thought that idea was ludicrous and others were adamant it was true. I trust both sources so I don’t know what to believe. There is nothing on the post saying what they want/expect.

      Good to know there isn’t an advantage to being early though. I guess I should wait until Monday… I do think that in teaching, schools are generally eager to fill spots and right now there can be a dearth in applicants because fewer people are becoming teachers in California (the low pay and shitty conditions are turning them away–what a surprise!?) I also know Spanish positions can be especially hard to fill, so I guess I was hoping they would want to jump on me, being as awesome as I am. I think really going out of town makes me really nervous, and I’m trying to mitigate that possible conflict by turning it in earlier, but that is almost certainly not a big deal.

  5. Most jobs wait until the applications are closed before reading through and assessing, not a first come first serve basis.
    It makes more sense to have an idea of who ALL the applicants are and then picking the ones you want. Unless recommendation letter is going to arrive after closing date, you may as well hold it till then, as you can be sure that an earlier application doesn’t mean a better result.

    1. It says on the posting that the post will not close until filled, so I’m not sure how that works with when they consider applications… I wonder if things are a little different in education.

  6. I guess I’m the outlier here. I review resumes as they can come in here and if the right candidate comes along, I know. No need to look at everybody else’s resumes. That said, I don’t think waiting until Sunday would be a dealbreaker for anyone. As long as I haven’t made any one an offer, I’ll still look at a good resume that comes in.

  7. I work in the public sector (not schools though) and I know the open until filled thing can mean rolling interviews rather than waited no for a deadline to pass and then reviewing/selecting…and even in the latter situation exceptional apps can catch the selecter’s eye and be pulled and set aside (I’ve hired/selected)…I do not think a few days would hurt though. Maybe you can prompt the principal to see when he expects to be done?

  8. I would have submitted it but after reading some of the comments, maybe wait for a few days and see if this guy comes through. I never submit recommendation letters with my resume or application. I usually say recommendations/references are available upon request. No need to waste their time if they aren’t interested after reading my resume.

    Good luck! I know how hard this is. Thinking of you….

    1. I have to apply online through a website and I can’t submit my application without the letters of recommendation. Not sure is this system is unique to education, but that is what EdJoin requires and it’s really the only site schools use to post positions and accept applications.

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