Well, not exactly, but close.
This summer is when we bid for the first time in years. Four years to be exact, three for my wife. Three or four blissful, awesome years...are coming to an end.
I checked, and my last post on bidding (or at least that I tagged with bidding...I am too lazy to actually look) was in 2010. It has been awesome!
Because bidding sucks.
If you search bidding and the Foreign Service, you will find very few folks who like the process. One compared it with being asked to the prom, and whether or not you get asked by your number one crush or have to take the second, third or twentieth down the list. Does she like me? I mean, really like me?
Now we have a new tool, which simultaneously makes bidding easier and harder and extends the bidding period indefinitely. It is called "projected vacancies."
We have always had it, but you had to really want to search in order to use it. Because it only existed for each bureau on their web page, IF you could find it (unless you are bidding on posts beginning with A, I or P, in which case you are greeted with flashing signs "BID HERE!"). Lots of bureaus didn't have it at all.
Now it is all in one lovely, horrible place.
Which means instead of waiting until the bid list comes out in August-ish, we can start searching NOW. And getting disappointed NOW. And fretting NOW.
And wondering if the only way to be posted together, or get promoted, or get a decent onward, is to look at those posts beginning with A, I or P. Not that we are unwilling to serve there (seriously, we volunteered for Jerusalem when that was THE place...now it is like, yeah but what have you done for us lately), just that we have some other career boxes we need to check first.
I am a planner (ENTJ baby)...I like lists and organization. I like being prepared for what comes next....it is a trait that source of perpetual frustration in the Foreign Service, particularly where bidding is concerned, because bidding takes away all ability to plan. Not to be deterred, I already have spreadsheets of overseas and DC positions, places where there are jobs for both of us. Can we try for a stretch...there is a list for that. Should we just go back stateside and then lobby next time? There is a list for that. (though going stateside would make us Fair Share, meaning our next time bidding, we would need to bid at least three hardship posts of 15% or greater in two geographic bureaus, and we don't really want to be Fair Share. Though lots of people are Fair Share and still don't end up in a hardship tour. Because BIDDING hardship and LOBBYING for hardship are not the same thing. In fact, you don't have to lobby for any of your core (at grade and in cone bids)...and if you don't lobby, you won't get them. I only lobbied for this job, not a core because it was a stretch position. None of my core bids gave me a second glance. Nor did I want them to.
The bad thing about the "projected vacancies" is that they aren't necessarily REAL. I have already found two positions I thought looked promising (one I thought would be our #1) that won't be on the list at all. the incumbent extended.
So we are looking for hardships, hopefully in Europe so that can be my major bureau, maybe in South Central Asia (so we could maybe get a language in common that isn't a single country language), or maybe even Asia (did she really just mention Vietnam??).
And we are looking at DC (the ultimate hardship, but it doesn't count!).
And we are trying not to look at posts that begin with A, I or P.