Requesting vacation time after receiving a job offer is a universally tricky ask. Every employee deserves time off, but when you’re brand new at work, leisure time might feel like it should be on the back burner.
Except that isn’t always how it works. You may have interviewed and been hired, despite having a vacation planned; or maybe some watershed life event—like someone’s wedding—has long been planned during your third week of work. The truth is, there are ways to ask correctly so the question doesn’t come across as careless.
When to ask for time off when you’ve just started a job
You might hear things from certain workplaces experts that point to exact rules, like a measurable length of time that signifies you’ve paid your dues and can snatch a little R&R with little fear of repercussion. What matters most, however, is that you understand a company’s culture, and moreover, know what your manager is comfortable with.
“Vacation policies vary by company, by boss,” says Marc Cenedella, the founder of the resume writing service Leet Resumes. “What’s written in the handbook is only sometimes the way vacations are really approved,” he tells Lifehacker.
For example, some companies have an accrual system, in which employees have to work a certain amount of hours to earn vacation days. That system is sort of archaic nowadays, though: Many younger companies have transitioned away from the notion that work equals earned time to decompress. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, such formats are usually a deterrent to prospective employees who could simply direct their job searches to companies with more generous vacation packages.
However, if you find your self in the unenviable position of having to ask a boss about a forthcoming vacation before you’ve logged considerable time, there are plenty of ways to go about it diplomatically.
How to ask for vacation time at a new job
If you’re in the position of having received a job offer, but still haven’t signed your offer letter, then you’re in the best place to broach the topic, says Cenedella.
The employer clearly wants you to join, and an innocent ‘by the way, how do I request a weeklong vacation?’ followed by ‘and is it ok if I do that in the first three months?’ will likely get you the most lenient reply.
Of course, it’s understandable that everyone has a life outside of work, so it’s more than likely that if your request isn’t completely outlandish—don’t plan a two week vacation immediately after your first week of work—you’ll be obliged. If you have a wedding or family vacation to attend within the first month of your job, just say so. You shouldn’t be scrutinized if something important has been planned long before you were hired.
“Waiting to ask until it’s a forgone conclusion is worst,” according to Cenedella. Saying “‘My family bought a cruise for the end of this month and I need to go,’ puts your boss in a bind, and shows you don’t know how to communicate or manage well.”
You needn’t play a guessing game either, but if you can’t read your boss you might look elsewhere within the company for guidance. “Asking your new colleagues for practical advice on how vacation works at your new employer is helpful, and can give you guidelines about how the company culture actually works,” Cenedella notes.
Everyone merits time away from their desk. Asking for the time off without putting your boss in a precarious place should be easy enough, as long as you plan ahead.