Let's file this under things I wish I had known, though to be fair, there is not much I could have changed.
For those of you in the 152nd in particular, you have just gotten your bid list. You have been told that your first two tours are directed, and that after that, you lobby for jobs in the direction you want your career to go.
Those two things are true.
That doesn't mean you will get the jobs you lobby for. What they never tell you is how much those two directed tours affect your whole career. For your third tour and beyond, you do lobby for the jobs you want. But lobbying is all about who you know. People doing the hiring either want to know you or know someone who knows you. You want big dogs in your corner who can help persuade those people to hire you.
And where do you acquire those big dogs? From your previous tours. It would be nice if they considered your experience from before the foreign service, but often they do not. So for me, I had trouble getting my first public diplomacy job even though I had degrees in journalism and anthropology as well as experience in both fields (so I have both aspects of PD work covered) because no one knew me. So instead, I went from my second tour to a position as a staff assistant in the same bureau as my second tour. Why did they want me? Because they knew me. I was a known quantity in the bureau. Now fortunately, the PDAS in that bureau had previously served as an office director in the office I wanted to go to. HE (not me) was a known quantity there, and so HIS word (not my experience) got me the job. Before he weighed in, I couldn't even get them to schedule a time for me to come by and chat about the job.
From that job, I was able to get the job overseas I wanted because I got the biggest dogs in the bureau to weigh in for me, plus I knew one of the big dogs making the decision through GLIFAA.
Same story for my wife. Her DCM and Pol-Econ chief from her first tour weighed in for her for her third tour. Again, despite her experience (and PhD) in the area of concern, it was who spoke on her behalf, and that she herself was something of a known in that bureau, that got her the job. Her next assignment was because of her experience in her third tour. Her onward is because of her experience in that bureau and our connection to the big dog making the decision for the next tour.
All of this is to say that when you are considering where you want to bid for your first and second tours, consider too where you want to go after that. Find out about the people you will be working for, where they have served, etc. And use that as an additional guide when you decide which posts to bid high, medium and low. You will still go where your CDO assigns you, but since they do TRY to put you where you want to be (within reason), it can only help to be armed with as much information as possible when you make your case.