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56

MARCH 2017

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

Bill Miller believes part of the problem is the sheer number of

bidders at the middle levels. “Do the math,” he says. “Our top 10

bid positions at the FS-3 level had 548 bids. That’s an average of

54 bids on each job. For every one person who is excited about

their assignment, 53 will be upset.”

“Ten years ago, you put in a list and you got an assignment,”

says Batman, whereas now potential bidders need to sell them-

selves to prospective offices. “The expectation is you’re making

the calls, engaging with these offices. The reality is there are a lot

of great agents. You need to contact those offices and tell them

why you’re the best person for the job.”

When agents complain that they believed they’d spend

the majority of their career overseas, DAS Rice corrects them.

When he came on in the late 1980s, he says, “we never did

get overseas.” Back then, there was a five-year rule before you

could serve overseas. “We used to have more RSO jobs for our

size. Now it’s way harder to be an RSO. You probably have to do

multiple ARSO tours.” His advice to frustrated bidders: “There’s

only one rule in the Foreign Service: needs of service. Some-

times you will benefit, sometimes you will not. Bloom where

you’re planted, be flexible and work to make yourself into a

commodity.”

Changing Times

“Bloom where you’re planted” is good advice not just for

bidders, but for everyone under the umbrella of the Diplomatic

Security Service. As they move into an increasingly uncertain

and dangerous future, DS agents have to be prepared to change

with the mission.

Flexibility, creativity and intense training are required of

anyone who wants to stay in the bureau. The people who have

survived and thrived as DS has taken on broader, more complex

responsibilities are excited about the challenges they see ahead,

even as they remain pragmatic about the struggles they’ll be

forced to endure, both personally and professionally, to stay

afloat.

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