Michelle Delgado
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As soon as summer sets in, it seems like my email inbox is instantly hit by enticing ads for cheap flights and all of my friends seem to be sipping fruity drinks on tropical beaches.  

Many companies have started offering teleworking options and other perks that help support our work-life balance. But there’s no substitute for a real, offline vacation that allows you to fully unplug. Researchers even believe that taking vacations can reduce the risk of heart disease, improve your relationships, and boost your mental health.

However, if you started a new job recently, planning a summer getaway isn’t as simple as hopping on the next affordable flight to somewhere sunny. How soon is too soon to ask for vacation

If you started a new job recently, keep these 4 rules in mind before requesting your first vacation.

1. Figure out the status quo.

As you adjust to your new job, your colleagues will almost certainly be happy to bring you up to speed on everything from how to use the printer to the company’s history. Before long, you’ll have a good sense of the office’s status quo, or the regular state of the company’s norms.

Business experts debate the value of challenging the status quo, but when it comes to requesting your first vacation, you’ll want to stick strictly within the company’s norms. It’s reasonable to ask your manager, a mentor, or a trusted peer how much time employees normally take off at your company.

For example, you might learn that most people take one long trip plus a few weekends away, or that no one is allowed to travel during a certain busy season. This information will help you make a reasonable vacation request that is likely to be approved.

Additionally, according to Statista, American workers typically take three to four days (27%) or five to six days (25%) at a time. 

You don’t need to share any details about the vacations you might hope to take – gathering information is the first step in making sure that your expectations and hopes are in line with your new company’s norms.

2. Establish a good reputation.

Before asking for vacation, you should have a sense of who will cover your work while you’re gone.

For some jobs, you may need to train a peer to cover your responsibilities while you’re away. For more autonomous roles, you may be able to schedule your vacation so that it falls after you wrap up a major project so that there is nothing hanging over you when you jet off. 

Chances are, assessing this will be easy – pay attention to how it’s handled when others leave for vacation and consider the specifics of your job. 

My tip is the same for both situations: Before asking for your first vacation from a new job, give yourself time to establish a reputation for hitting your deadlines and helping colleagues out.

Best of all, some of the best ways to assist colleagues are subtle and easy to build into your work life. If you struggle to hit deadlines or avoid time sucks, there are lots of helpful resources online that can help you demonstrate improvement to your manager.

You don’t have to be a perfect worker to “deserve” a vacation, but establishing a track record of assisting colleagues and meeting deadlines the majority of the time will give your manager no reason to be concerned about approving your time off. 

3. Give your manager plenty of notice.

Most companies require employees to submit a request for vacation days two to four weeks in advance. 

The first step is checking your employee handbook to make sure you know the rules. When asking for your first vacation at a new job, it’s wise to tack a few extra days onto that window to be sure that your manager has plenty of notice before you jet off.

By padding your request with extra time, your manager will have plenty of opportunity to brief you on pre-vacation processes such as training a peer to cover your work or wrapping up a project. 

A last-minute vacation request could give your manager the impression that you’re disorganized or discourteous to your colleagues. By making vacation requests far in advance, you will signal that you take your job seriously and care about wrapping up loose ends before you leave. 

4. Managers understand that you need time off.

Adjusting to a new job can be hard work, and new job burnout is real – so your manager will understand that at some point, you’ll need a break.

Before requesting your first vacation, be sure to figure out what’s normal at your company, establish a good reputation for being helpful and hardworking, and give your manager plenty of notice before your trip.

By following these 3 rules, you can leave your worries at the office and set off for the relaxing vacation you need.

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