Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Getting in Step

Ok, so today I submitted my official agreement to join the Foreign Service. I'd been putting it off for a couple of days until I got a few administrative things sorted out. First, our second daughter was born after I received my offer, so I wanted to make sure she'd be on all the travel orders, etc. First step here is to get her DS-1622 completed for medical clearance...hoping to do that at the next well-baby check-up.

Secondly, there was a discrepancy in the offer I received from the State Department, but after talking with my registrar, it looks like it was more of a typo than anything. Going by the book, I sent in  a request to the State Department to review my entry grade and step. I hate talking about money, but for all of you who might have found this post while looking for information on the Foreign Service salary determination process, I thought it might be helpful from the point of view of someone going through it.

Perhaps the most important thing to realize is that you have to request a review BEFORE you accept the appointment. There's nothing you can do after you accept the appointment, so you might as well ask. The worst they can say is "no," right? Anyways, the request for review might sound like a counter-offer, but trust me, it's not. There's a formula for determining what grade and step you enter into the Foreign Service, based solely on your education and years of experience. Sounds fair, right?

Well, yes, it is. And administratively, it's very cut and dried so that it's easy to administer. Basically, the formula works out that for each year of experience, you go up one step, from 1 to 14. An increase in step comes with an increase in salary. However, the biggest "catch" is that you don't get credit for experiences under one year. So, if you had a total 5 years and 11 months, you only get credit for 5 whole years.

But the devil's in the details. As far as I could tell, your credited experience is aggregated before rounding down...so if you had two jobs that each lasted 1.6 years, they would sum to 3.2 years, and round down to 3.0 years (rather than 2.0 years if they were rounded down first and then added together). I thought this was my case, as it initially appeared that I wasn't getting credit for a job I before I joined the military.

Turns out, I did get credit for it, but the Foreign Service job also required some years of experience to even be considered. So, I received all the experience credit that I was due (by both my and their calculations), then the years of experience required to be considered were deducted, and the remaining years were applied to my entry grade and step.
Hoppin' up the steps
I still have like an inch-thick packet of information to pour over to determine what sort of health plan and life insurance to get. Apparently, you can get hostage insurance. Good to know? Also reviewing the moving/shipping weight allowances...turns out that any household goods destroyed by military action won't be charged to my total allowance if it's considered a total loss. That's good, I guess.

Anyways, I need to get back to the paperwork.
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