The good news about interviewing for a new job with your vacation quickly approaching is that you have two very good things to look forward to. The bad news, though, is you'll need to let employers know eventually. So, how will you do that without jeopardizing your candidacy? Take our advice below.
Should I bring up a planned vacation during a job interview?
For large companies with flexible PTO policies and multiple employees in your position, you may be able to let hiring managers know sooner rather than later. But if you're the first person in your role and the company has needs to be met in a timely manner, then it's better to wait until you've gotten further along the interview process. But, in general, telling hiring managers about your vacation too soon could cost you your candidacy because they won't have had enough time to get to know you and evaluate your candidacy ahead of time.
So the answer to this question is, yes, but not until your second interview, when you're asked about your start date or until after you've received your offer. When you make the ask is completely dependent upon the company culture and the interview process.
Getting called in for a subsequent interview is a great indicator that you're a top competitor for the position because it often means hiring managers have decreased their pool of applicants from the double-digits to their top 10 or fewer.
When you're asked about your start date, you can also tell hiring managers about your pre-planned vacation — you just don't need to tell them the reason why. If your vacation is coming up soon (as in, you'll be back in less than two weeks), then you can set your start date a day or two after your return. For trips planned way in advance, you can just let them know as an FYI.
You can also bring up your planned vacation between receiving the offer and officially signing it. By now, you're the best candidate employers have spoken to so, unless there are urgent demands in your new role, there's a little more wiggle room to plug the FYI without jeopardizing your position.
How far in advance should I request a day off?
Generally, you want to wait at least three months after you start a new job before taking your first vacation. You may have some wiggle room to take a vacation sooner (like, in the summer if your colleagues also have vacation's planned), but you shouldn't hop on your PTO policy before you've gotten a handle on your new role, if you can help it.
You should also give plenty of notice before requesting a day or more off of work (unless it's an emergency). A minimum of two week's works well for most businesses and should give you just enough time to prep for your PTO. Try to pick a good day or week, as well. For example, teachers shouldn't take a week off during state testing season because finding someone to replace them when staff and standards are tight can be difficult. When teachers do take time off, they should have their lessons for that day or week prepared for their substitute to take over (trust me — I was a teacher, and I've been there!).
How do you ask for time off before starting a new job?
It's generally best to wait until you've been offered the job and have been on-boarded before you take time off of work. If you ask too soon, like during an interview or during training, it may be perceived that you care more about money than the position or are generally not invested in the role to begin with. Before you request time off, you should wait until you've started performing well in your role and learning the ins and outs of the company, strategy and success metrics.
There are, however, some instances where it could be OK to request time off before starting a new job. Such instances include landing a role during the holiday season or requesting time off to deal with a family emergency. During the holidays, many people are taking time off and offices may even be closed so you'll have plenty of time to show up for other parts of your life. Family emergencies are unpredictable, one-off instances that warrant a reasonable request for PTO.
Preparing your talking points.
A little rehearsal time goes a long way when you're letting employers know about a vacation you've already planned. Before you fill them in, have an idea of when you want to let them know and how you want to say it. Any of the following phrases could work:
“While we're on the topic of start dates, I wanted to let you know I have a trip planned between April 6th and April 10th. I should return to work/be available to work that Monday, April 16th.”
"Since we're discussing the company's time-off policy, I should note that I have a trip booked after my tentative start date. Can you explain how this would be handled?"
"Several weeks ago, I booked a flight for the week of April 6-10th and wanted to let you know. I can start work as soon as that Monday, following my return."