Navigating the undercareerents


Dear Reader, I’ll let you in on some of the impending career decisions I have to make in the next month that will significantly impact my career–and our future overseas.  I call these "undercareerents," or those ongoing career activities one has to do to keep their career afloat and livelihood intact.  I’ve alluded to these undercareerents in some of my past blog entries.  One is bidding on my next assignment.  Another is my quest to improve my German language skills.  The third is my career evaluation, which I must write and update each year.  All three of these ongoing undercareerents come due next month.  Between now and then, I will be very busy finishing all of them before I drown in the undertow.
 
Last fall I talked about bidding early for my next assignment.  If you recall, I submitted bids on ten jobs in China and was turned down for every single one of them.  Now my own bid cycle has come, and I must choose 20 jobs worldwide on which to bid.  I will be assigned to one of these jobs in 2007, after we leave Korea.  Everyone who will bid on assignments next month received the master bid list yesterday.  Over 350 jobs are listed for approximately the same number of bidders.  I reviewed the list and eliminated over half of the assignments on the list, including ones that start too soon or too late or require proficiency in a foreign language I do not speak.  I whittled the list down to 38 assignments in 24 countries that fit my schedule, my language ability, and my job preferences.  The list is only preliminary, and my wife and I have to research each assignment further to see if they meet our needs.  What surprised me most is how few attractive jobs are available in China.  I fully intended to bid on many China jobs, but after reviewing the bid list I found just two that really appeal to me, one in Hong Kong and the other in Shenyang.  I did not find a single job in Shanghai or Beijing that interested me, primarily because the work is far too similar to what I do now.  I really enjoy what I do for a living, but one of the joys of my line of work is the variety of opportunities available.  In my next assignment, I want to do something far different from what I do now.
 
Following is my preliminary list of assignment preferences.  This list is bound to change, but for now, this is my own wish list ranked by preference from 1 to 38:
 

Wellington New Zealand
Athens Greece
Hong Kong PRC
Berlin Germany
Damascus Syria
London UK
London UK
Montevideo Uruguay
Bogota Colombia
La Paz Bolivia
La Paz Bolivia
Belize City Belize
Asuncion Paraguay
Shenyang PRC
Buenos Aires Argentina
San Salvador El Salvador
Montevideo Uruguay
Bogota Colombia
Kuwait Kuwait
Panama Panama
Windhoek Namibia
Quito Ecuador
Sydney Australia
Shanghai PRC
Shanghai PRC
Hong Kong PRC
London UK
Managua Nicaragua
Tegucigalpa Honduras
Hamilton Bermuda
Santo Domingo DR
Santo Domingo DR
Havana Cuba
Mexico D.F. Mexico
Mexico D.F. Mexico
Beijing PRC
Guangzhou PRC
Guangzhou PRC

 

Cities listed in multiple indicate more than one job assignment.  Some of these, notably Wellington, New Zealand and Athens, Greece are assignments I have virtually no chance of filling because they are highly sought after and will receive dozens of bids.  Still, I won’t know unless I try.  I hedged my bets by adding less desirable assignments in places such as Bolivia and Paraguay with excellent job prospects.  The Berlin assignment is contingent on whether I can improve my German score.  If I fail my exam next month, I will have to drop it from my bid list.  Until yesterday, I would never have considered working in El Salvador or Namibia.  I was certain we would head to China in 2007.  Now, we could head anywhere in the world.  One aspect of bidding that works in my favor is that many of my peers are obligated to bid on assignments in hard-to-fill places where they speak the language, improving the odds the rest of us will get a position we want to fill.
 
At the same time, I must complete my six-page career evaluation detailing why I am a good employee.  Six pages doesn’t seem like much, but it can be very difficult to complete.  You have to condense your entire career into six pages and work with your supervisor and a senior reviewer to draft the best evaluation possible.  It is not enough to claim that you walk on water–you also have to feed 5,000 people AND walk on water.  The key to writing a good evaluation is to show that you are very successful in a succinct manner.  Tonight I probably should have been working on my evaluation, but I was so excited to consider the possibilities of my next assignment that instead I dissected the bid list.  I will dive into the evaluation tomorrow night.  Enjoy your Friday night!  I will spend mine writing my evaluation and taking a break to write another blog entry.
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3 thoughts on “Navigating the undercareerents

  1. quemino's world says:

    Too bad they cut the position in our office or I would suggest you come fill the spot! And you aren\’t alone as I know two other people in the exact same position as you right now. Good luck!

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