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How to Tell a Prospective Employer You're Going on Vacation

How to Tell a Prospective Employer You're Going on Vacation

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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, Online Career Tips

We’re now into the season of end of the school year, graduations, weddings and summer vacations. So it’s an appropriate moment to talk about the dilemma of a new job offer and long-planned time away from work.

When I was offered my current job, I had just returned from a vacation. So I didn’t face the awkward problem of having to tell my prospective employer that I could join the university, but first I needed some time off.

However, suppose you are a candidate interviewing for a job who has a long-planned, expensive vacation beginning soon? To tell or not to tell? That is the question.

A Conversation that Needs to Occur with Your Prospective Employer

Vicki Salemi, a career expert at Monster.com, says, “Yes, the conversation absolutely needs to occur, but with tactfulness and grace, there will be no need to stress.”

You especially do not want to put yourself in the awkward position of starting a new job, only to immediately inform your new employers of your planned vacation. “They’ll wonder why you didn’t mention it earlier,” Salemi says. “You will also make them wonder whether you’re prone to keeping important information like this to yourself until the 11th hour.”

Mention Your Planned Vacation when You’re Asked about Your Start Date

Salemi suggests that a good time to raise the issue is when the recruiter or hiring manager asks you when you’re available to start. “First, that is an excellent sign that they want to move forward! Second, that’s a perfect window for you to tell them about your vacation plans,” she notes. You’re not asking for permission; you’re simply telling them as an FYI.

“You don’t have to give a specific reason for your time off,” Salemi adds. “Although it’s a good idea, especially when the time off is longer than a week.”

An example of a good reason for time off before starting a job is a destination wedding that requires extensive travel. (Your own wedding might be the best reason. Who could say no to that? Besides, employers look for committed employees and being married is a commitment, to say the least.)

Here are two examples Salemi offers as ways to broach the sensitive topic of vacation time prior to starting a job:

  • “While we’re discussing start dates, I should note that my friend is getting married in Australia and I already booked my flights to be there for two weeks in August. I just wanted you to know.”
  • “While we’re talking about start dates, I just wanted you to know that I have a trip booked between August 1 and 12. I should be back to work that Monday, August 14.”

Many hiring managers will adjust their planned start dates to accommodate a candidate who is forthcoming about a previously planned commitment. By being candid, you also show that you are considerate of your prospective employer’s needs. That’s always a plus for any recruiter.

What to Say When Your Planned Time Off Is Months Away

But suppose your planned, prepaid vacation or important commitment is not for six months? Should you mention that to the hiring manager?

Writing in Forbes, Liz Ryan suggests that you should just say, “I know you’re still working your way through your recruiting process, but I wanted to let you know that my daughter is getting married in October and so if you and I move forward to a job offer, I’ll need to arrange some way to take that time off.”

If you’d be willing to take the time off without pay, you can say that. The other option is to remain silent and let the manager chew on your vacation request, Ryan advises.

“This type of issue falls on the NBD (no big deal) list in a big way,” says The Prepary, a Web site devoted to job search information. By the time you’ve received an offer, the company has likely screened numerous candidates and spent hours interviewing many of them. Because you’re the chosen candidate, you have a modicum of “clout.”

When you’re the person who was chosen after all of that, something as small as a pre-planned vacation or other commitment is not going to get in the way of making a deal.

There are a few reasons for that, says The Prepary:

  • You’re not asking for more vacation. You’re asking to use the allotment given in a different way than specified. Companies often have to be flexible about this because there is no way for job seekers to know where they’re going to be working in the future, when that offer is going to come and what the vacation policy will be. They can even make you pay it back if you leave the company and didn’t accrue the days you took. It’s still NBD.
  • This is something many companies would be flexible about anyway. When it comes to vacation days or non-paid time off, managers generally have discretion to be flexible. If there is a big life event or commitment, the flexibility tends to be there more often than not.
  • Overall, it’s just not a big ask. You could be asking for $10,000 more in salary, a four-day workweek or a bonus guarantee (things that people negotiate for all the time, by the way). When it comes to things that recruiters get asked at the offer stage, this is a tiny one.
  • You will be back from your trip shortly. You’ll be refreshed and ready to go. As long as you do your job well and gain the support and respect of your team, no one is going to remember or harp on that vacation you took during the first month of work.

So disclose your vacation time and hope your prospective employer will be flexible. Most of all, enjoy your vacation. You’ve earned it.