Of course, I am talking about bidding.
What, you think I forgot about it? Or forgot to write about it?
Nope, neither. In fact, there are times when it threatens to be all consuming.
The bid list came out on August 1, and I was really excited to see that a number of the positions that were listed on the projected vacancies and had looked promising were still there.
You see, those projected vacancies may or may not have any connection to reality. A person in a position at a post with 15% or great differential (hardship and/or danger) can extend if they choose. Poof...that job that was expected to be available is off the market until next year.
And the other issue is that bidders agreeing to go to what we are now referring to as PSP, or Priority Staffing Posts (aka Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Libya), get to link to their next assignment. Meaning they just to the head of the bidding queue and pick the nicest jobs, competing only with any other PSP bidder who might want that position.
And there is no guarantee that just because you are interested in something you think would not be interesting to someone coming out of a place where things blow up, that it won't get linked to. Some people really like the excitement. Some like the extra money. Some think that every place in Europe is easier than any PSP place. There may be some truth to that.
So yeah, that job you have an eye on at a 25% differential post could still get snapped up by someone who just served at a place with a 70% differential (look, over here...wouldn't you really rather take this nice Paris job?).
The linking part of things is now over, so the jobs on the current list should be there, provided people don't extend. There is at least one job I am looking at where the "incumbent" arrives this week (because it is a two year tour and you get one year of language before going to post, the people I would replace in some of these jobs are only just arriving), and he has until after the bids are due to decide if he will stay for a third year. Hopefully he will decide sooner than that, and hopefully he will decide not to extend, because that is the place I would really like to go.
But here is the rub: it isn't the place my wife really wants to go.
If you think bidding is a pain, bidding tandem is even a bigger pain.
Not only are you now hunting for two jobs instead of one, but you are also looking for two jobs at the same post or at least at posts within commuting distance of each other. That really limits the number of jobs you can bid on that.
Add to that each of our own career wants and needs. For example, we are both currently section heads. We'd like to be section heads in our next assignment too, but in many cases, there simply aren't enough section head positions open. Or there is a section head position that will be open at just the right time but it doesn't require language so it won't be on the bid list until next year. Does she take a deputy position or do I? How do we decide? Or do we just do like many tandems and go back to DC, where it is easier to find another position overseas next time around?
So many of our spare time conversations for the past week have revolved around what to do next. No option is perfect. There will be compromises either way.
And there is no guarantee we will get any of what we want (though I did have a phone interview yesterday that felt really positive. It was essentially for any position in Europe because the bureau has a new system for Public Diplomacy jobs that involves a new web-based reference center....lucky me, my experiences with it are helping them work out the bugs, sigh. A couple quick notes about the 360 Reference Center for you if you are bidding PD jobs in Europe. That "save" button? Don't use it. It submits your application without you getting to finish it. Also, don't start unless you have time to finish...the application times out if you are away too long - or take too long. The description of why you are qualified - have it in a word document or something you can use to cut and paste from in case you lose it. And if you put in a state.gov email address for a reference, it will automatically populate the rest of the fields for that reference from the GAL, even if that person is on home leave, and you won't be able to add a correct phone number or change the person's position).
And of course, all of this is before we move on to the asking your bid to the prom phase. Do I wait for the girl I like like, or do I just settle for the girl I kind of like?
Nope, it never gets easier. God I hate bidding.