Summertime Blues: Accepting a new job when you have a vacation commitment

You’ve searched for months and are finally closing in on your dream job. There’s only one problem — you have a planned vacation coming up in just a few weeks. How can you handle it professionally to make sure that you don’t offend the new employer or worse yet, lose the job? Pre-planned vacations are unavoidable and completely acceptable. Especially in the summertime. Reunions plans, flights, weddings and family commitments often need to be made months in advance. So how do you break the news to a potential employer?

First Things First

First, take a deep breath. You are not alone. This happens all the time. Employers face the same commitments and issues as you. If you handle the situation professionally there shouldn’t be an issue. Following a few simple guidelines should help.

When is the right time?

When it comes to permanent positions it really doesn’t make sense to tell an employer that you have a prior vacation commitment until they clearly indicate serious interest in you as a candidate. But, as soon as the employer or recruiter asks you what your availability is to start, let them know that you have a commitment to a planned vacation and when it is. If you are upfront about your commitment, it will generally be accepted without issue.

Should you get paid for it?

Whether or not you get paid for vacation time when you start a new position depends on the policies at your new company. Most companies will not have paid vacation time in the first few weeks or months and you should not expect it. At those companies where there is an unlimited vacation policy, you may be granted the time off with pay but this is likely the exception rather than the rule. If possible, set the start date for after the vacation.

What if it is a problem?

If the employer makes it clear that it is an issue for them you will have a difficult decision to make. Employers usually place a high value on getting the right person into a position. If they truly believe you are a great fit they will likely make the accommodation. Sometimes though, there are important factors that prevent them from offering that type of flexibility. Critical company events or key meetings that need to be properly covered are an example. In this case, it is you who may need to make the adjustment. Perhaps you can shorten your plans or join a critical call from the road to make things work.

Dream jobs don’t come along every day. If an accommodation cannot be reached and it truly is your dream job hopefully your friends and family will understand and support your decision to go for it.

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