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Monday, March 03, 2008

I Disagree

Today's Dear Abby column includes a question about disclosing a planned vacation during a job interview. Abby says to tell the hiring manager, who will respect you for your honesty.

She may be right. But, I would give the opposite advice and tell the person to disclose the planned vacation after an offer has been made. Why? Because while a good manager knows that vacations happen and won't let that influence her hiring decision, a less than perfect manager would let that information cloud her judgment. Instead of realizing that whoever she hires will take time off for vacation, this one vacation could cause a job to be lost.

My advice would be, after you get the job offer, to say, "I will need to take August 2-10 off for vacation. Are those dates going to be okay with you?" If the answer is no, then you graciously decline the offer.

Those are my thoughts, anyway. What do you all think?

24 comments:

The Engineer said...

Just had that experience. I did not tell the hiring official about my plans. They were irrelevant until I was offered the job. After I accepted and was hired, we discussed the possibility of my taking time off. It wasn't and I knew that was a possibility going in. One of the costs of switching jobs.

Ask a Manager said...

I totally agree. When you have a really strong candidate pool, little things like this can tilt a manager's thinking, even though there's really no sensible reason for them too. Also, I've had candidates bring up planned vacations before I've made an offer, and it always sounds a little premature. Wait until the offer -- we'll deal with it then.

Just another HR lady... said...

I totally agree, the place for advising your potential future employer about vacation time is at the job offer stage, not at the interview stage. When I've selected my successful candidate, a little request like a planned vacation is nothing.

Shauna said...

I agree, it is not an issue unless you are offered the position. It should not be a factor in their initial consideration.

class factotum said...

I waited until I had the offer, then told my new boss that I had made plans (as in, already had the tickets) for a two-week trip to Ireland three months hence. I said I would be glad to take the time without pay given that I would only have been working for a month, but he said not to worry about it. He let me take the time with pay and didn't even charge it against my vacation!

Connie Cossar said...

As someone in HR, I have had most candidates tell me in their interview if they have planned vacation time and I have appreciated it because I can then plan ahead (I am a planner at heart). It has not clouded my selection, but given me the impression that they will be forthcoming about things in the future and maybe I won't be hit with too many "surprises" from them (not always the case, but works sometimes).

Teri said...

Before you have the offer, you don't have the job, so your vacation plans aren't relevant.

After you have the offer, they can still withdraw their offer, so they have the same opportunity to decline to hire you.

This can be one of the factors that lets the candidate evaluate the company and the desirability of the position.

Withdrawal of an offer in these circumstances could indicate that there is a lack of flexibility in the company, a lack of work-life balance, a high-stress position, and/or a less-than-firm commitment to you as the candidate.

Those are good things to find out before you take a job, not after.

Ramona said...

I wholly agree. You always state these type of things, post offer, so it isn't in consideration while they are weighing options.

If you do it post offer, and don't wait until you show up the first day to ask for it, you will likely be able to negotiate from a better position because by this time, you're sure they want you.

Special Projector said...

Wish I had an opposing view to offer, but have to go with the majority here; your vacation is of no relevance unless they offer you the job. I would not hold it against a candidate (but unlikely it would be with pay, unless the company's vacation policy is substantially altered...)

Rick said...

Can't help but agree here. Mention the vacation before you get the offer and well, you just might not get the offer. When you get the offer, you know they want you, and that's when you have leverage. Besides, I'm sure they can do without you for a week. If they say no, and work/life balance is important to you, they may have just telegraphed you a message that work/life balance is not important to them. And that's a redder than red flag.

Evil HR Lady said...

Well then, I'm glad there is such consensus. I think the fact that Dear Abby has probably never held a real job influences her advice.

Scot Herrick said...

This advice here is correct.

The first miracle is the phone interview.

The second miracle is the face-to-face miracle.

The third miracle is the offer.

Everything to getting the offer is sales and nothing about logistics, including vacation.

An offer in hand is worth two vacations in the bush, so to speak.

Krupo said...

Teri's logic is very strong, as is Scot's.

Besides, it all depends on how badly you need the job. If you can afford to go on vacation instead of working, then you can risk losing the offer.

If you need the cash, why are you even considering a vacation???

Having said all this, I did find myself taking a summer job years ago, telling the boss that I'd be gone in 6 weeks for a grand adventure, but I knew the entire product line and would require minimal training. I proved that within a day and the position was so hard to fill they were happy to accept. The job was even open when I returned.

Most aren't so lucky - this works easiest when it's a cheap job, that's for sure. But knowing the company's "true" flexibility in advance is also key.

Just another HR lady.... said...

Someone should write a letter to "Abby"? lol!!

danka said...

I think it depends how soon the planned vacation is scheduled to occur. If you have a two-week vacation scheduled to start a week after your planned start-date, then yes, I would say you have an obligation to mention it prior to the offer. If it's several months away, then I'd say you have some room to decide whether or not you want to disclose it.

Katherine said...

We have a form that's part of the face to face interview process, called an preliminary employment checklist where candidates list what times they can and can't work. We explain to them that's where they list any planned time off, such as vacations.

So for our hiring process, writing a vacation on the form is no big deal, but if you don't write it down and then ask after an offer, I'm going to think you can't follow instructions, and it may affect your offer.

But if a company doesn't ask, I'd go with the majority and wait for an offer.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Once an offer is on the table, it's your chance to negotiate and that includes the time off you will need. If the hiring manager won't budge on that, neither should you. Great advice.

Anonymous said...

I had this happen right as I took my current job. I had a two week trip out of the country, and said nothing of it until the offer was made. One thing to point out: AS SOON AS THE OFFER IS MADE...BEFORE YOU ACCEPT, you should request the time off, and usually, it will be considered some sort of employment agreement. If you accept the position and then mention the vacation on day one...whole different story. In the past, I've refused people the time off because they didn't mention it ahead of time, and our old company policy was that vacation time needed to be pre-approved.

Anonymous said...

I had this happen right as I took my current job. I had a two week trip out of the country, and said nothing of it until the offer was made. One thing to point out: AS SOON AS THE OFFER IS MADE...BEFORE YOU ACCEPT, you should request the time off, and usually, it will be considered some sort of employment agreement. If you accept the position and then mention the vacation on day one...whole different story. In the past, I've refused people the time off because they didn't mention it ahead of time, and our old company policy was that vacation time needed to be pre-approved.

Anonymous said...

I had this happen right as I took my current job. I had a two week trip out of the country, and said nothing of it until the offer was made. One thing to point out: AS SOON AS THE OFFER IS MADE...BEFORE YOU ACCEPT, you should request the time off, and usually, it will be considered some sort of employment agreement. If you accept the position and then mention the vacation on day one...whole different story. In the past, I've refused people the time off because they didn't mention it ahead of time, and our old company policy was that vacation time needed to be pre-approved.

Anonymous said...

As an HR pro who has been in the trenches for over 30 years it is best to inform the hiring authority UP FRONT your future plans for vacation, etc. To do less would bring suspicion to the hiring authority for "what else are they hiding". If the hiring authority uses that info against you...they weren't the upfront firm one would want to work for anyway. Jon

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Danka, I don't think it's any worse if you have a vacation planned for a week after the planned job start date....It is actually easier...we can either delay the start date, or let them come on board and do the inprocessing and training stuff and then start them on their job training after they return...easy to do and certainly no harder to let them go then than if they have one planned a few months in the future. A few months from now it is more likely there might be customer requirements to be met during the same time frame which require him/her to be at the job...not on vacation.

Anonymous said...

Yup I agree

Jena said...

Hi, I've read all the responses that say i shouldn't tell a potential employer about an upcoming vacation, or 2. I work for a large hospital and i'm transferring from one area to another, if it's been pre-approved in my current department to new departments typically stick with what the old department approved. Also, IF an offer is made, HOW should i bring up the fact that I have a week vacation planned, and then a 4 day weekend a month later?

Thanks!