Call me a freeloader, but this seems totally ridiculous. Since when is it inappropriate to use a university e-mail account and letterhead to apply for another job? Over at the Chronicle blog “On Hiring,” Gene C. Fant, Jr., writes,
When I see applications coming in, I really like to see people using their own private e-mail accounts, home or cellphone numbers, and “From the Desk of” letterhead. The use of campus e-mail and phone numbers doesn’t spoil me on a candidate, but I have to say that, for the sake of both stewardship of resources and confidentiality, I like to see personal materials used.
Good grief! Tom Benton had a good reply in the comments to the post above: “There is no generally accepted rule that graduate students and faculty should not use university letterhead and email addresses for job searches, and in fact some encourage graduate students to do just that. In my view it is unethical to start setting ad hoc ethical traps for people at other institutions who are acting in good faith.” In my first non-tenure track job, I was urged by the Chair of that department to send out applications on department letterhead–so long as I was using it for professional purposes and not my grocery list, I was told that it was not only acceptable but one of the perks of employment. Many fellowships include an e-mail address and the use of fancy letterhead, which is a big bonus for otherwise unemployed graduate students and recent Ph.D.s–why shouldn’t an actual employer offer the same?
Furthermore, applying for other jobs is very much a part of professional life and development in modern academia, whether or not one has tenure or a tenure-track job. Please advise me if it’s different where you work, but at Baa Ram U., the only way to get a substantial raise is to attract an outside job offer, so the university’s own incentives clearly encourage us to apply for other jobs.
I’d also like to note something that Fant overlooks: affiliations don’t just work one way. I’m not just affiliated with an institution, Baa Ram U., Baa Ram U. (Sheep be true!) is also affiliated with me. The university gets to list me and all of my colleagues on its website and use our names, publications, grants won, and areas of specialization to attract interest from students and impress the taxpayers, so I fail to see why faculty should hide their affiliations in the name of not “misusing campus resources.” I’ve chaired a search committee and served on several others–if someone claimed to be affiliated with an institution but didn’t use their campus e-mail, contact information, and letterhead, that would suggest to me that they’ve got a good reason to seek employment elsewhere if they feel that unsafe from spies and retaliation. It would strike me as eccentric in the extreme to see an application on blank paper with only home or private contact information from someone with a job and an affiliation.
But, let’s pretend this is just a bean-counting exercise. Imagine, if you will, that you’re a department Chair or a Dean. How many job applications would your faculty have to send out every year, year after year, that it would make a serious dent in your stationery budget or server space? (Psst: if your faculty are sending out that many job applications, wouldn’t that suggest that you’ve got bigger problems?) Duh.