I'm approaching my 1 year anniversary of arriving in Sweden. Times going fast and I've just received the bid list from which I'll try to pick my 2nd directed assignment. After that it's a more open bidding system where people lobby the posts with job openings and try to convince them they want you there. It's almost like applying for a job each time you move. In contrast, directed assignments are decided by our Career Development Officer (CDO) considering our rank ordered preferences we submit along with any special family needs and maybe a dart board or some other random selection device. Apparently there's a little art to the science of slamming a list of people into a list of posts.
This is the Summer 2016 cycle where all of us at our 1st tour post starting between May 1 and October 31 2014 will have to move next summer. We had a big class of 23 people in the IMS specialty when I joined. Now we have a total of 42 jobs for 42 or less number of people. 42 is a nice number featured in my favorite book series: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I've read all 6 books in the trilogy several times. Yes, it's a trilogy because Douglas said so. Anyway, we now have just TWO WEEKS to research and rank order the entire list of 42! There's actually just 38 distinct posts since 4 of the posts have 2 positions each. Just a week later I should know where I head to next...
Stockholm Sweden is a 0% differential hardship pay and 0% danger pay post. I'm getting a high cost of living allowance but that doesn't matter for this next little bit of math where 0+0=0. That's the amount of "equity" I have towards picking my next post. This means there's lots of other people with lots more equity getting higher precedence towards their top choices. I'm instructed to be realistic with my bidding. Apparently this means I should guess what other people will want and not bother rating those high since someone with greater than 0 equity will win out and get it. My classmates desires were all over the map and now we have an even bigger map of choices:
The other idea concerning equity is to not bother too much with what other people might want since I'm not The Amazing Kreskin. I'm in Europe now and some people may think I'd want another European post when in actuality I'm looking around at other areas of the planet to try out. That's the point of joining the Foreign Service instead of getting a regular job in Europe. Over the next 2 weeks I'll be busy researching and hashing out some pros and cons for 38 locations. I think I'll end up with a mix of sorting it as I desire and kind of taking into account my equity by not seriously considering other 0 equity posts. I'll turn the list in and then I'll get... something in the top 1/2? Even if it's something in the top 1/3 that's still one of a dozen possibilities.
All I know right now is that I can honestly look at the map and have absolutely no clue where I'll end up next. Isn't it exciting?!? I think so! :-)