Advance Vacation Notice

I am currently looking for employment (I was laid off) and was wondering about how to ask for a few days off that I know I would like to take. I am completing my MBA in December, and the graduation is in a neighboring state, which would require a few days off for driving, plus the actual ceremony and celebration. Since I already know about this desire for time off, when would be the appropriate time to mention this, in the event that I am interviewed and/or offered a position? I am ok with being told it is not possible, if that is the employer’s policy, but if I can take the time off (even without pay), I would prefer to do so. I don’t want to offend the employer by them thinking I would always be asking for time off, but also feel the kind of employer I want to work for would be understanding for this special occasion.

First, good luck with the job hunt. It’s a painful, but hopefully fruitful time. Second, congratulations on the MBA. (Almost! I probably shouldn’t congratulate you until you actually receive it.)

Now, as for time off at the end of December, take a deep breath and don’t worry about it. Everyone and their dog wants to take vacation at the end of December and no future employer is going to be shocked by the request. (And, FYI, if you came and worked for my company, we shut down between Christmas and New Year’s Day anyway, so everybody gets time off!) This is something I wouldn’t even bring up in an interview.

I would, however, bring it up in the negotiation phase. Once they’ve offered you the job, then you can mention, “I’m graduating from [MBA Program] in December and the graduation ceremony is on December 22. I’d really like to take December 21-23rd off. Would that be a problem?”

Chances are the answer will be no. If the answer is yes, then you get to decide if the new job is worth missing your graduation.

This would be a problem if what you wanted was 6 weeks off to tour Africa or something. Two-three days off to attend your own graduation is not an unreasonable request. And a manager would be a fool to not want you to work for them because you have something so reasonable scheduled. (Heck, I once hired someone who said she couldn’t start for three weeks because she had a vacation planned between the offer and then and didn’t want to request time off. I needed her on board for various reasons and said, “come on and you can take that vacation paid!” So she did and she went on her vacation and 7 years later she’s my job share partner, so aren’t I glad she came to work?)

You’re almost done with your MBA and you’ve been laid off, so I presume you have work experience to go along with your degree. This means you probably aren’t looking for entry level positions where you have to work six months before getting a single day off. Most companies will pro-rate your vacation time anyway. If you were hired in October in a company that offers 2 weeks of vacation per year, you’d have 2.5 days of vacation to use by year end anyway. (10 days/12 months=.833 days per month X 3 months=2.5 days of vacation.)

Good luck with the job hunt. May you land one quickly.

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8 thoughts on “Advance Vacation Notice

  1. I was in this position a few years ago. Well, something similar; I interviewed for a job in June, but was getting married in July and wanted to take a week-long honeymoon. Normally I wouldn’t have even considered taking time off so soon into a new job, but it was impossible to postpone the wedding at that point, and a honeymoon is a once in a lifetime thing. So is a graduation.

    (Okay, so I’ve had two honeymoons, but I really MEANT to only get married once!)

    Anyway, I was young and inexperienced and did mention it in the interview. We were discussing vacation time, and it just sort of slipped out. But it was fine – most employers are going to be so happy to find someone who otherwise fits their needs that they’re not going to sweat a few days for an important life event. Just like EHRL said.

  2. I wouldn’t worry about it at all. But do be prepared for a possible no…if they have a hard time staffing in late December and have had to tell current employees “no” for that week off, they may not be able to grant your request.

    My best advice: once you are offered the position, THEN tell them about the time off. DO NOT ACCEPT AND THEN BRING UP THE TIME OFF. That move (given the time of year you are asking for the time off) can seem a bit manipulative. We had a candidate try and negotiate salary after accepting, and we rescinded the offer because it showed poor judgement.

  3. If they want you, they will accommodate your request. Plain and simple.

    Most managers would be thankful you let them know up front rather than starting a job and a week or so later saying, “Hey Mr./Ms. Employer, I need a week and a half off…etc”

  4. I’d be more concerned with a 2 week vacation than 2-3 days off. I started off my first official job with the need to attend my own graduation in May (I was one of the weirdos who graduated early in Dec). This is big and something I can imagine not too difficult to accomodate given the proper notice, unless you’re working for a small shop with only a handful of employees.

  5. Once upon a time, before Christmas, I asked for a weekend off in mid-February to attend a wedding. I was salaried and did lots of overtime. Two days before the weekend, the boss told me I had to work THAT weekend. When reminded that I could not possibly give more advanced notice than two months, the boss grudgingly took “my” shift. I was gone by spring.

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