Wednesday, October 28, 2020

2020 Fall Jobs Post

My annual fall jobs posts, giving advice to PhDs looking for faculty positions, were getting repetitive. See last year's post for the usual stuff and feel free to post opportunities in the comments on this post. This year let's talk about what's changed.

First something you might have missed--the latest Taulbee Survey shows a small drop in the number of new undergraduate CS majors in 2019 after years of massive growth. Is it a simple blip or have we hit the saturation point? We may never know because of the change you definitely didn't miss seeing.

So let's talk about the effect of COVID. We're seeing a large drop in new international students who are having a hard time getting visas or just avoiding the US like the plague (literally). Not sure those numbers will fully come back given other alternatives and a changing international relationship particularly with China. Many undergrads have delayed college and some may never attend. 

On the other hand, COVID has accelerated digitizing the economy, from videoconferencing to in-home entertainment and games to remote access to work environments. The post-COVID economy could create even a larger demand for computer scientists. 

Many universities curtailed hiring last year worried and may do so in the spring given the uncertain budget situation due to the virus. Others continue to hire in computing, some to make up for last year. I just can't make a prediction for the upcoming year but I wouldn't rush to the job market if you have the option to wait. Last year the CRA reinstated the CIFellows, postdocs to help those in a tight job market, and may do so again next year. The CRA will also repeat its CV database.

Late spring interviews in 2020 went virtual and will likely go virtual again in 2021. Nevertheless take the zoom meetings seriously. Make sure your interview talk is still a discussion--answer questions people give in the chat. Still do your research to have strong conversations with everyone you talk to, especially the non-theorists. And still dress nicely, at least from the waist up. Putting on a sports coat is not a bad idea. 

Though most places continue to focus on data science/ML, cybersecurity and to some degree quantum, Rutgers is specifically looking for a hire in computational complexity. Don't see that everyday. 


  1. I'd just like to point out that it wouldn't really be natural for me to wear a sports coat if I were interviewing for a job this year -- do you mean to offer your advice to all job applicants or just the men?

  2. The Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo is hiring. While we have targeted areas including AI/ML, Security & Privacy, Data Systems, and Systems & Networking, we are always have an open call for great candidates in all areas.

    Let me be explicit: if you are a theory candidate and interested in the University of Waterloo, please submit your application. FYI, this holds true for any other school that may or may not have an ad for your specialty.


  3. I've aggregated a list of current job postings that specifically mention theoretical computer science, broadly construed: I would like to crowdsource it; the Google Sheets file should be editable.

    Currently the list is fairly narrow in that it only has tenure-track positions at research universities in the United States that mention theory. It's missing open calls, teaching-oriented positions, positions in other countries, etc. I'm tracking some of that too, but wanted to post a "useful kernel" to start with.

  4. The School of Computing Science at Simon Fraser University (SFU) invites applications for tenure-track faculty positions. The School has multiple openings and will consider applications at all ranks, including assistant, associate and full professor. Excellent applicants in all areas of computer science will be considered. Applicants with research focus on artificial intelligence, computer security, networks and systems, and quantum computing are especially encouraged to apply.

  5. Northwestern is definitely looking for Theory Postdocs (most likely 2). Deadline is Jan 1 2021.