United States foreign service posts and Department of State jurisdictions, February 2006

That’s right folks, we are no longer “entry-level” bidders! The bid list for our next post comes out on Friday, woo hoo! Although technically it’s not that exciting since they’ve had a great new function for mid-level bidding for a while now called Projected Vacancies.

So instead of blindly waiting for the list to come out, you can now run a little search based on your bidding cycle, federal pay grade, and job title and see what positions are scheduled to be available. And we assume that it’s fairly accurate since we all know going in whether a post is usually one, two or three years long.

But there are a few big differences between entry-level and mid-level bidding. They are as follows:

Directed vs Lobbied

Your first two entry-level posts are “directed.” So you are handed a list of posts by your Career Development Officer (CDO), and you rank them according to preference by high, medium and low. You can send your CDO a short narrative explaining your choices, that person then decides where you will be assigned.

Mid-level bidders are not directed. They have to “lobby,” which means they have to contact the person in the job they want, talk to them about the position, send a letter of interest to the hiring manager for that job (usually a supervisor), and interview in competition with other bidders…just like in the private sector.

It is entirely possible that you will not be hired for ANY of the 15 jobs that you bid on. In that case, you then have to start all over again with a new list created from the jobs that are left over from other bidders. Not an ideal situation.

So it is not uncommon for people to create “bidding strategies” involving a certain amount of hardship posts that presumably other people don’t want that will increase your odds of getting them. But be careful! If you bid on it, you just might get it. 😉

The List

Our first list had 19 posts with entry-level jobs on it, and Belize was a medium choice for us. Our second list had 50 posts on it, and London was high (obviously!). When you’re bidding mid-level, you can see every position that’s available for your bid season. It is your job to filter them correctly to match your pay grade and job title.

You then have to bid on at least six “core” locations that fit those criteria. And your list can have no more than 15 posts…quite a change from the 50-post bid list! Your non-core bids can be in any field at any grade. But most hiring managers will probably choose from core bidders to fill a job because they’re often the most qualified.


Almost all entry-level posts are two years. You may volunteer to go to an extreme hardship or danger post for one year, but that is separate from the usual entry-level list. Most mid-level posts are three years…again, extreme hardship and dangerous ones are one year…and some random posts are two years based on weather extremes or isolation level. For example, Iceland is only two years, while the rest of Scandinavia is three. Go figure.

So that is mid-level bidding in a nutshell. Good luck to any fellow bidders!! I’m curious to see if the actual bid list remotely resembles the projected vacancies. And we should find out where we’re going sometime in November!