Posted in WashingtonDC

Bidding – Wake Me Up When September Ends

After months (years) waiting for bid season to start so that we can get back overseas, it finally opened on September 16. I had all my bids in by 8:30am, and now I am not-so-patiently waiting until October 28 for handshakes to go out. “Hurry up and wait.” The real State Department motto. 😉

I’d be happy to tell you all about my bid list, but I don’t want to jinx it (and technically we’re not supposed to). Rest assured I am only bidding on cold places in the Northern Hemisphere above 45°N latitude. Gotta get out of this disgusting summer climate. Yesterday was September 23, and it was 95F. Fall is nowhere in sight, but many of the leaves have just dried up and fallen off the trees…heat exhaustion presumably.

Bidding has changed quite a bit since I first started in 2011. Back then, you had to bid on five to 10 posts, and they had to be in at least three different geographic regions. If you had not been to a 15% or higher hardship post in the last eight years, you were considered a “fair share” bidder, had to bid on one, and could not accept a handshake for a nicer post until stretch season three or four months later…a few years ago the hardship level was raised to 20%. And all of your family members had to be medically cleared for the post you were going to before you could accept a handshake.

Happily, most of those rules have gone away since then. They realized that most positions were being filled by people that actually wanted to be in those places for one reason or another. The geographic requirements disappeared while we were in London. And the fair share and family MED clearance rules were amended just this year. The only catch is that if you accept an assignment and get paneled, and they still don’t clear your family, you’ll be in a very awkward position.

In 2017, I bid on eight posts and had five interviews. Nothing worked out overseas initially, then Brussels popped up, and then we ended up medically curtailing, lost Brussels, and ended up back in the States. MED is still holding my son’s leash (god forbid they let an adult parent make an informed life decision about their own child), so we’re not able to go very far afield, and I’m forced to bid on some pretty popular and competitive places. So we’ll see how it goes. I am trying not to sound quite so sarcastic and cynical during interviews. 😉

And I am still holding out hope that we’ll get one of my top three posts and that MED will clear my son. If they don’t, I’m not sure what our options are. I can’t afford to stay here indefinitely, and I’d be pretty pissed if I “wasted” all of the money my mom left me on rent in DC when it could go to A’s college or toward buying an actual home in the future.

Plus there’s the fact that my current job will be going away next summer, and someone else will be taking it. So I’d have to find another job here in DC if we can’t go abroad. Another option would be if MED clears A after bid season but before next summer, perhaps I could find us a “now” position…one that’s popped up randomly between the regular bidding cycles.

I have had two interviews that I thought went well, and I’ve been able to meet with some of the managers associated with different jobs while they were passing through FSI for training, which is a great place to be during bid season. So I will try to stay positive and take things one day at a time.

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