on bidding

So, bidding.

Picking your next home is fun in theory, but there’s always a but. You get the list, and there are so many amazing possibilities, but…

  • You are only allowed to go to Russian speaking posts.
  • You have to go somewhere with special needs schools.
  • You need a country with a bilateral work agreement for your spouse.
  • Your kid says he’ll emancipate himself from you if you don’t go to a country where he can play hockey.

Those are just example buts. We all have them. Sometimes they’re mandated by the State Department, and other times they’re personal preferences. Either way, they impact how we bid.

Here are our specific buts:

  • We have to go to a post that’s either English or French speaking.
  • I have to serve a consular tour.
  • Abbey has to be able to come.
  • There has to be adequate medical care for Andy’s follow-up treatment.

Even after all those buts we have some really amazing options. Seriously amazing. I have to bid on 30 total jobs, and I could come up with an entire list of 30 that would make you all insansly jealous.


We have another but to consider:

  • We want Andy to be a Foreign Service Officer too.

This whole tandem couple thing really throws a wrench in my bidding plans. Here’s what happens. This summer I bid and get my onward assignment. Then, next spring, Andy will join the Foreign Service. We will hope with all our hopes that another job at the Embassy I’ve been assigned appears on his bid list. If it does, we hope will all our hopes that he and not someone else in his A-100 class gets assigned to it. Obviously there are lots of points at which this plan could go south.

What if no jobs at the Embassy I’ve been assigned are on his list? What if there is a job at the same place I’ll be going, but another person gets it? Well, then Andy ships off somewhere else in the world and Flynn doesn’t get to live with both his parents for two years. That sucks.

So a huge factor in my bidding right now is maximizing the possibility that both my post will show up on Andy’s bid list (this means huge embassies) and that he will get it (this means places where other people aren’t dying to go).

As much as we would love to head off to Sydney or Dublin next, they are small and highly sought after posts, so they aren’t great options for us this time around. Sorry family and friends. Where will you be visiting instead? Stay tuned. We should know in about a month.

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11 Responses to on bidding

  1. Natasha says:

    I thought being a tandem couple made your bid prospects better? Just not likely that you both would get your top preferences. I don’t know anything though, as we have yet to bid. And yet to leave for our first post haha. We’re USAID so I think we only bid 10 or something. Sometimes it’s easier to not have so many choices though!

  2. Frans Wiggers says:

    I will only say one thing:
    (all your reqs are met)

  3. Kate says:

    Can you clarify what is considered an English-speaking post?

    I realize that should really be a “Duh” question, but we consider posts like Delhi (India), Mumbai (India), Abu Dhabi (UAE), and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) English-language posts, but others like Hanoi (Vietnam) and Bangkok (Thailand) as foreign language posts. It seems to me like you folks get a much wider range of language training than we do- does that mean that the list English/French speaking posts is that much shorter?

  4. Al says:

    Alex – Did you have any tandems in your A-100 class? We had about 3 or 4 and they were all assigned before we even got the bid list. Their posts, in fact, did not even appear on our bid list. (The exceptions, of course, was the one couple who were both in our A-100 class). So, while you still need to look for posts where a job will be available, I don’t think you have to worry about someone else from his class getting assigned there.

  5. Alex says:

    Natasha — No, definitely not, with State being a tandem makes your prospects much more limited. All the tandems I’ve met say it is possible to stay together, but you have to be willing to really compromise about where you go. That said, some State “compromise” places would probably be considered pretty nice USAID places, so it’s all relative. =)

    Frans — You think Brussels is somewhere others wouldn’t want to go? Ha! But I’ll give you a head start in the Halley bidding prediction game… Brussels wasn’t an option for me. Darn!

    Kate — There aren’t English speaking posts per se, but there are English designated jobs. In India, there are both English designated jobs and those that require Hindi or Tamil or whatever. Seems about half and half. But the Philippines for whatever reason is almost all English jobs, and only a very few Tagalog jobs. At State, we get a certain amount of training before we’re tenured. Because I used up my training time before my first tour with French and maternity leave (yes, that counts toward my time… blah) I can’t have more time in training so I need to get a job that’s either English or French designated.

    Al — Yep, that happened in my A-100 too, but sadly that policy was changed in January of this year because there were a lot of complaints that tandem couples were getting special treatment. No more pre-assignment. Now it works as described above. Of course CDOs will factor in your preference of keeping your family together, like they factor in other people’s preferences, but there are no guarantees and no way of lining up anything in advance.

  6. Frans Wiggers says:

    I can imagine Brussels would be a popular place to go, but if you never ask you will certainly not get it. But seriously, Brussels would meet all your requirements. And please don’t forget that Flynn would have some reserve grandparents / baby sitters… 🙂

  7. Frans Wiggers says:

    What about The Hague?

  8. alex says:

    Frans — I’d love to go to Brussels or the Hague one day, but they weren’t on my list this time around. There were some other great places, though, and while yes, I could maybe get one of them if I tried, the issue is that it’d be much harder for Andy to be assigned there too. Possible, but harder. So we’ll see. We’re bidding on some European posts though, so who knows! And I’ll DEFINITELY need your babysitting services if I’m in Europe and Andy is off in Ougadougou or somewhere. Willing to relocate beyond Brussels? =)

  9. bfiles says:

    I think it is so sad that the tandem policy changed. I will be rooting for you guys.

  10. Lynne says:

    I have been following you guys just recently and will definitely be on the edge of my seat regarding your whole “entry to tandem” issue. My husband’s an IMS and I plan to be a Consular officer next year when we leave this post (I’m on the register now, deferred and studying Russian). Best of luck to you!

  11. towelspacked says:

    I’ve heard that tandem is tough, but on the upside at least you’re not CNL. We had 5 posts to bid on for our second tour. D needed a Consular and Russian designated position but not in Russia. We had better luck at Flag Day. All I can say is at least there’s no directed assignments after tenure.
    Also, wow, I didn’t know the policy for tandems changed as of January (D also had someone in his A-100 who was a tandem and pre-assigned)… hm, that’s no bueno.

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