Job Journey: Negotiating Vacation

As you get higher on the food chain, compensation packages have more and more elements: vacation, bonus, education, work from home, pension plans, parking and more.

One of the first things to consider is vacation.  It should be pretty straightforward but it is not always so.

If you have been with a company for a long time, you may be entitled to four, five or six weeks of vacation per year and maybe you can even carry it over into the next year.

You might be able to secure that in a new role if you are moving to a very similar organization ie hospital to hospital or between divisions of a global entity.

If you are starting from scratch in a company, you will be looking at something between two and four weeks to start.

Yes, there are still companies that start everyone at two weeks. That can be tough pill to swallow when you are negotiating an offer and you are already quite smitten with the opportunity and the people.

In these cases, there may be no flexibility, even if they really, really want you.  If the supervisor has been with the company for ten years and just earned a third week of vacation and then you show up with three weeks in your first year, it can make for a pretty tense environment.

The other piece of vacation is understanding when you are actually able to take the vacation you fought for.  One of my clients has a policy that you have to accrue all of your vacation before you can take any of it.  This means no paid vacation for a year.  That’s a long time.

Other companies are quick to provide four weeks but require that one of the weeks be used between Christmas and the New Year.  In reality, you have only three weeks where you can actually choose to be off.

It’s important to keep these things in mind in the early stages of interviewing.  Asking about vacation policies and practices can be easily dealt with towards the end of a first interview and should definitely be covered in a second interview.

You don’t want to discover that a company has tiny, rigid vacations after that all-important last interview.  It can be heartbreaking and stressful.  Get it on the table early and respectfully.

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