Monday, September 18, 2017

Bidding Wars: Attack of the Choices

The bid list is finally here! The actual list provided some surprises. One of the posts I was most interested in (Harare) disappeared, but new interesting posts have appeared (Hong Kong)! I've already done much of the leg work in researching my desired assignments, but with the new options, there's always more research to do. I guess I'll be spending some time on the Overseas Briefing Center's website (Post Info To Go) and on Tales Mag's Real Post Reports.

Now that the bidding season has 'officially' started, it's time to start lobbying posts in earnest to convince them that I'm their best choice. This awkward task is made slightly easier if you know people at the place you're bidding, but still includes a bunch of bragging (but not too much!) e-mails. It's not what I would describe as an enjoyable process.

Everyone's bidding process is different. Looking at my cohort mates and friends... some of us are bidding on one bureau, some on multiple. Some are lobbying 20 posts, and some just 3 or 4. Some are bidding based on geographical location, others based on the job. I can't speak to which is best and really, a lot of it is just personal preference. However, I can explain my bidding methodology.

I’m planning to actively lobby/bid on 5 posts.

1) We removed all posts requiring malaria medication. We're not opposed to serving in one of those posts in the future, but don't want to deal with having to remember (and fight) to give our one year old meds every day.

2) We crossed off places with (apparently) low morale. Morale is definitely based on the people (which can change before I arrive), but morale tends to be passed down to incoming officers. Low morale posts often appear to stay that way.

3) We looked at places (rumored to be) good for young kids. Our son has had a particularly rough time in Buenos Aires. The Embassy community is scattered, which makes it hard for him to make friends and most of the locals don't speak English. He has some expat friends, but they're also hard to nail down for regular play dates. All-in-all, we're looking for a place that he will enjoy.

4) As always, we're hoping to go to new (and interesting) places. Buenos Aires feels similar to living in the US. It's not exactly what we were aiming for with the Foreign Service. Also, we're hoping to have a tour in every continent by the end of my career.

All in all, this leads me to bid on (in no particular order): Reykjavik, Ho Chi Min City, Hong Kong, Phnom Penh, and Guangzhou. Apparently we also had a requirement that everywhere be hard to spell correctly... Guangzhou (as with most of China) tends to be light on bidders and will act as a fail-safe of sorts for me. I'd be interested in going there - no malaria, good morale, good community for kids - and I really enjoy China, but the others are slightly higher on our list. Those five posts actually represent 9 positions, which seems like enough for me. I'd rather seriously bid on a few realistic positions than take the scattershot approach. Which is better? I guess we'll see!

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